Lightning-Capitals round robin game preview
Lightning 43-21-6 92 Points second in the Atlantic
Capitals 41-20-8 90 points first in the Metropolitan
Lightning 0-2-0-1 against the Capitals in 2019-20
The Tampa Bay Lightning are finally ready to re-start the 2019-20 season
After a four and half month season suspension, the Lightning will hit the ice Monday afternoon to take on the Washington Capitals in their first game of the round-robin games to determine the top four seeds.
The Lightning is healthy for the most part. Steven Stamkos suffered a lower-body injury the first week of July and is now close to returning to competition.
Stamkos did not play in the Lightning 5-0 exhibition win against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Jon Cooper has played it close to the vest as to whether Stamkos will play against the Capitals.
Stamkos did practice with the team on Saturday.
It has been a tale of three mini-seasons for the Lightning. The Lightning started a lackluster 6-5, then went on a 23-2-2 run before losing seven of ten to end their season.
The Capitals were streaky as well. At times they looked ready to capture another Stanley Cup. At times they looked as if they didn’t care if they were on the ice or not.
The Capitals finished their season on a 7-9-3 run.
For the Capitals, if they are to go on a deep playoff run, they will have to rely on goaltender Braden Holtby to carry the load.
Capitals backup goalie Ilya Samsonov suffered a knee injury while the league was shut down and is out for the season.
The backup role will fall to Vitek Vanecek. Vanecek was number four on the depth chart early this season and is now the number two goalie at the most important time of the season.
Vanecek played at Hershey this past season posting a 19-10-1 with a 2.26 GAA. Vaneck has not played in an NHL game.
The third goaltender for the Capitals will be Phoenix Copley. If it comes down to goaltending, the Capitals could be in trouble.
The Lightning enters the postseason as the number one scoring offense in the league at 3.47 goals a game.
The Capitals are number two in scoring at 3.42 goals a game.
The Capitals still have two of the best lines in hockey with Backstrom, Ovechkin, and Oshie as their top line. Kuznetsov, Vrana, and the lovable Tom Wilson make up their second line.
Their defensive group is not as deep as the Lightning group but still very good with Carlson, Orlov, Kempny, and Radko Gudas as their top four.
The Lightning top line of Point, Palat, and Kucherov were outstanding in the exhibition against the Panthers with four goals and six assists. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy looked sharp as he stopped all 26 shots.
The Capitals have had the Lightning’s number the past few years. Their past playoff battles have been epic.
It would not be surprising to see these two teams meet in a best of seven series down the road.
The Lightning look focused and determined. It’s all business inside the Lightning locker room.
I like the Lightning to get off on a winning note and defeat the Capitals on Monday afternoon.