WHERE:St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
WHEN: 7:30 PM EDT
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE:Japers' Rink
Things have been simmering between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals since that little skirmish earlier this season between the likes of Steve Downie, Alex Ovechkin and Matt Bradley. Everyone's keyed in on it during each of the additional meetings between the two teams since then, and nothing much has come from it.
Yet there is reason to think that perhaps this meeting may be of a more vitriolic nature . This game represents the anniversary of Alex Ovechkin's infamous "Sticks of Fire" goal celebration (video is included on that link) early during the caps 5-2 win.
There's bad blood between these two clubs, you don't exactly need that reminder as a catalyst going into tonight... But if something were to set off the proverbial powder keg, it may be the memories from that little incident.
The Bolts are concluding a four game homestand tonight, and journey to south Florida for tomorrow's game against the Panthers. The team is reeling, but they still hold out hope for the playoffs (even if they've fallen to six points outside the eighth seed):
"It’s hard, but there are still 12 games and 24 points to be grabbed and I’m not giving up. I don’t think anybody is giving up. No one is going to feel sorry for us and we’ve got to fight until the end, and I believe we will." – Lightning forward Martin St. Louis commenting on the team’s mood down the final stretch of the season
I know a lot of people are not giving up, but a lot of fans have. The Bolts have proven too inconsistent this season to put up a last-ditch playoff run. They've squandered too many important games in the standings with efforts unbecoming of a team that hopes to make the playoffs.
Case in point on that focus, Nolan's Five Questions post over at Frozen Sheets Hockey blog. His fifth question is the one that gets people thinking... If not right now, than two or three weeks after the conclusion of the season. It is certainly goign to be another off-season of change, but what is looming exactly remains unseen.