Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals: GAME #60
Time: 7:00 Eastern Time
Location: Capital One Arena
Broadcast / Streaming: SUN, TVAS, NBCSWA, SNP (Canada)
Opponent SBNation Site: Japers Rink
The Washington Capitals played yesterday in Buffalo, the final game of a road trip that included a 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks game was a sticky one for Alex Ovechkin -- the first game in his career in which he registered zero shots on goal. In Buffalo he redeemed himself, scoring his 35th goal of the season in the victory.
Tampa Bay Lightning saw their rank drop to second in the league after a loss to the New Jersey Devils this past Saturday night, overtaken by the Vegas Golden Knights, and closely shadowed by the Boston “when did this happen?” Bruins. The Bolts have been on-again off-again since the midpoint of the season, and are likely glad for the cushion of points they have to keep them from dropping out of playoff contention. Why? Stamkos probably summed it up best, lack of defensive coverage:
“If we’re not going to pay attention to our own net, give up odd-man rushes, it’s tough for Vasilevskiy to bail us out every night,” Stamkos said to NHL.com after the game against the New Jersey Devils. “There were a lot of positives but they scored on the chances that we gave them for the most part tonight.”
Trade speculation also swirls around the Lightning as the NHL heads toward the trade deadline. The Bolts have been linked to Detroit’s Mike Green, in exchange for Tampa’s first-round pick, or a second-round pick plus a defensive prospect. Are we seeing the last days of Cal Foote in blue and white? Or will Mikhail Sergachev be sacrificed at the altar of “win now”? It is often harder for players to settle down and play well close to trade deadline, especially on a team led by Steve “hold onto your butts” Yzerman.
Will the team clamp down defensively tonight against an offensively gifted team? Or will they suffer the same kinds of defensive breakdowns that plagued them Saturday?
A big story surrounding the Caps recently has been the four Chicago Blackhawks fans shouting racial taunts at Devante Smith-Pelly. Those people have been banned but it has reignited the race issue in our society (on Hockey is for Everyone month, no less). DSP had this to say about the incident in a post-game interview. [via ESPN]
It’s disgusting. It’s sad that in 2018 we’re still talking about the same thing, over and over. It’s sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You’d think there’d be some sort of change or progression but we’re still working toward it, I guess, and we’re going to keep working toward it.
Isabelle Khurshudyan has done some great reporting on this issue so I highly recommend reading her Washington Post article on it. It outlines what happened, the context that it was within, and statements from the Capitals, the league, and Smith-Pelly.
Our beloved ex-Bolt J.T. Brown has been a flashpoint for these discussions since the start of the season. Brown provided a tweet with his thoughts and support for DSP.
Hockey is for everyone. If you think black athletes should only play basketball, than you clearly don’t know much about sports. There’s no room for racism in the rink or anywhere.— Jt brownov (@JTBrown23) February 18, 2018
The Capitals are no longer a team that controls play at 5v5. The rely almost entirely on shooting and goaltending talent to win games. That’s been enough to keep them among the leaders in the Eastern Conference this year but anyone looking at these numbers would wonder how sustainable this is long term.
The Lightning are in some ways a less extreme version of the Capitals. The Bolts also rely on shooting and goaltending talent but differ in that they’ve also been able to control play for long stretches this season. That hasn’t been the case over the last few weeks though as their numbers continue to drop from the heights they achieved in the first half of the season.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Yanni Gourde - Steven Stamkos - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Chris Kunitz - Vladislav Namestnikov - Ryan Callahan
Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman,
Mikhail Sergachev - Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr
These are the lines from practice on Monday morning, we will see whether Peca moves to the wing for the game or is scratched. For the defense, it appears the 23- and 24-year-olds are the healthy scratches once again.
UPDATE: Peca is in. He will be playing the right wing on the fourth line over Cory Conacher. Courtesy of Caley Chelios.
UPDATE 2: Dotchin and Sustr in for warm-ups, Peca out. Lightning going with seven defensemen against Ovi and friends.
(Courtesy of @ikhurshudyan via RMNB)
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly (hey, I remember you) - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Lance Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly
Juice Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik -
David Madison Bowey
Brandon Brayden Braden Holtby