Capitals and Lightning
#CapsYear?? Well actually this might be. The Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning open up the Eastern Conference finals tonight in Tampa. Many people wrote off the Capitals this year, but maybe that is why they have a shot.
For the first time in his career Braden Holtby posted a regular season save percentage below .910. For the first time in a while, the Capitals didn’t make an impact move at the deadline. Compared to last year they lost Kevin Shattenkirk and Justin Williams in free agency. Therefore, many people wrote them off and rightfully so, although the Capitals still had 49 wins and 105 points…. Not exactly a bad team.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had 113 points and boast all the firepower in the world, with the likes of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman to name a few. But while everyone is picking Tampa to win the cup, I am picking the Washington Capitals to win this series because the gap between these 2 teams isn’t as far as people are making it out to be.
Tampa Bay’s top 4 scorers in the regular season had 316 combined points…. Only 7 more than the Capitals 309. The 4 Tampa players I mentioned above are matched by Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and John Carlson. The Ovechkin and Kuznetsov line has been outstanding through the first 2 series and both are at the top of the playoff scoring lead (for players remaining)
Tampa Bay might have an advantage in depth up front as Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, and Ondrej Palat would have the advantage over TJ Oshie, Lars Eller and Chandler Stephenson but time will tell. On the back end both teams are relying on their top 3 defensemen, Tampa has Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman and Ryan McDonagh but are probably evened out by John Carlson, Dmitri Orlov and Matt Niskanen.
In Goal Braden Holtby took over Washington’s net in Game 2 of the 1st round and hasn’t looked back. Andrei Vasielevskiy has been just as good and won both his series in 5 games.
Prediction: Washington wins in 6 games.
Photo: GREGORY SHAMUS/ GETTY IMAGES
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