ECSF Game 2 preview: Tampa Bay Lightning (5) at Washington Capitals (1)

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WHERE: Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia
WHEN: 7 PM EDT | | TICKETS: Check Availability
MEDIA: Versus (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Japers Rink, Rock the Red, Caps 'round the Clock

Pavel Kubina and Simon Gagne are listed as day-to-day, and are likely out tonight for Game Two versus the Washington Capitals.  Both players were knocked out, and the fear is concussions sustained both players.  Fears that have not been confirmed by the team (nor would they, for this is the season of vague injuries).

But while Simon Gagne's injury is a blow to the Lighting offense, the story of Game 2 will likely be defense.

Lets start on the visiting team side of the ice, where the Bolts will likely continue to employ the 11 / 7 forward-defense split.  Likely filling in for an absent Kubina will likely be Randy Jones, who would be seeing his first action since sustaining a high ankle sprain almost two months ago against this very Washington Capitals team. 

How the defensive pairings will shift for tonight remains to be seen...  And let's be honest: with how much Guy Boucher plays with his combinations, I wouldn't get too comfortable with the pairings that are presented at game time.

Meanwhile, the Capitals crime during game was lapsing back into the run-and-gun system (or, as Bruce Boudreau described it, "river hockey") of the past, and forgetting the more defensive system that the team has been playing for most of the second half of the 2010-11 campaign. 

Yet, remember, that run-and-gun system torched the Lightning twice this season before Boudreau implemented  changes.  Twice during November, the Capitals put up six goals against the Lightning in lop-sided victories (on November 11, 2010, and on November 26).

That does not excuse Caps players from ignoring Boudreau's system, but it does explain why (after taking a 2-1 lead) the Capitals were able to be taken advantage of:  There was blood in the water, the thought that scoring-at-will was a possibility and the fact the Lightning threw it right back in their faces.

That, in itself, was the grandest of departures from the two drubbings from November, where the Bolts tried to match the Capitals style of play and got burned in the process.

If the Caps do adhere to the tighter system that they'd been utilizing in the second half of the season, expect the game to be tight.  No matter how much offensive firepower each team has on their roster - it'll become a game of strategy as well as a quest to see who can better take advantage of other team's mistakes.

 

Yesterday on Twitter, I saw an interesting historical-context of the Lightning's win at Verizon Center on Friday:

From the playoff years 1990-2010, a team that won its previous playoff round in five games, like this year’s Caps, has met a team that won its previous playoff round in seven games, like this year’s Lightning, 19 times.  The seven-game winner doesn’t historically fare well, 6-13 overall.

When the seven-game winner opens the series on the road, like this year’s Lightning last night, you see that over the last 20 years (not including this) the seven-game winner has gone 1-8.

 

It's a positives stat, indeed.  I have to wonder how many of those six winning teams ended up ultimately winning their series?  Or that singular instance that the Lightning matched by winning on the road?  Did the team in question go deep into the series?

...

There will likely be more news closer to game time, but here's a reminder that Lightning viewing parties are happening around the Tampa Bay area today, as they have for each Bolts road game this playoff season.

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

Full game coverage on SB Nation

Tickets

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