Lightning and Capitals square off in post-deadline dance (preview)

WHERE: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
MEDIA: Sun Sports (Cable), 620 WDAE (radio)

20 games left.  Other teams in front are gaining points, other teams behind are gaining points.

And the Lightning are treading water.

The next round of the growing hate-fest between the Lightning and the Washington Capitals is tonight, with the Bolts reeling from both a 7-2 drubbing at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers, as well as the loss of teammate Jeff Halpern via trade, you got to wonder just how ugly this is going to get tonight.

If the pace of the season remains a constant over the Bolts final 20 games, they're looking at a record of 9-8-3 down the stretch run.  21 points.  That'd get them a seasonal record of 35-33-14 with 84 total points.

That's not likely going to cut it to make the playoffs.  It's a vast improvement over where the Bolts were last season, but for every back-to-back win (or longer stretches) where we thought the team had finally turned the corner, there has been a streak of mediocrity that has put the team right back at square one.

That just won't cut it.

I'm happy that yesterday, Brian Lawton did not sell the farm in order to secure a first-round playoff exit.  The bigger picture, long term for the franchise, stayed his hand.

Of course, yesterday, other teams were quite active.  Case in point, The Caps made a handful of moves to solidify things for their coming playoff run.  .It doesn't mean the Lightning were losers at the deadline, but they weren't "winners" in a day of ho-hum deals.

Teddy Purcell makes his Lightning debut tonight and will likely be the subject of line-juggling. So expect to see #16 (the number he has been assigned) all over the place tonight.

Mike Smith will be in goal for the Bolts, and Steven Stamkos will be gunning for a point in his team-record 15th straight game.

Oh, and Steve Downie and Alex Ovechkin bad blood will be the focus of media speculation. If they actually drop the gloves remains to be seen, but people will be looking for it and waiting for it...

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