Time of the Season: Washington at Tampa Bay preview

The Lightning host the playoffs-bound, Stanley-Cup-contending Washington Capitals in the Finale of the St. Pete Times Forum for the 2008-09 season...

And it's not going to be pretty, even if the Capitals decide not to show up.

Defenseman Matt Lashoff and forward Mike Pettinger are among the walking wounded with the Bolts and rumors of callups (Ty Wishart and Kevin Quick) remain just that - rumors - at this point (12:15 PM EDT).  (late afternoon edit: It's Quick and Kinrade)

Now the other ugly facts for you to feast on:  The Lightning have not won against the Capitals since late 2007.  10 Games.  Ouch.  And what hurts more?  The Bolts have dropped 10 of their past 11 at home.

For the Capitals:  As I already noted, they are playoff bound.  They will be the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs (unless the Devils over take them) and have 106 points coming into tonight (Boston, the top seed, has 112 with a game in hand).  Their playoff opponent has not been set, but if the season ended right now it would be Les Habs....The Caps last played on Tuesday, beating the Thrashers in Atlanta 4-2.  With a win tonight, the Capitals set a franchise mark for points in a season (107) and wins (50). 

The Caps boast the #2 Power Play unit in the league (25.2%) and the 18th Penalty Kill unit (80.6%).  Mentioning point totals from the Capitals top contributors (Ovechkin: 106; Nicklas Backstrom: 83; Alexander Semin: 75; Mike Green: 70; Brooks Laich: 50 ) seems almost cruel, but necessary.   I am also happy to report there have been no un-neccesary Ovechkin-50th-goal-celebration stories in the local media in quite some time.

For more on the goings and comings for the Caps, check out blogging at it's best at Japer's Rink

So if those callup rumors are true, it's another trial-by-fire experience for the Norfolk Admirals Tampa Bay Lightning defense...  As for the Lightning offense:  Martin St. Louis has 49 points in 49 games all-time against the Capitals (19 goals, 30 assists), while Steven Stamkos has 22 points this season at home (11 goals, 11 assists) and seeks to lock up the Lightning's all-time rookie goal-scoring record (tied at 21).

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