We are about a month away from the start of the 2010-2011 postseason, and many season series', including the one between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals, have ended. However, the end of the regular season series between these two teams may not be the end after all, as both teams are poised to make the playoffs for the first time in many years.
Given that possibility, Alan Zlotorzynski., the Capitals featured columnist, and I have decided to write two articles giving five reasons why our favorite team has the better chance of winning a playoff series this season.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments. Also, please check out Alan's article "Washington Capitals: Five Reasons Why the Caps will beat Tampa Bay".
Without further ado, here are my five reasons why the Bolts will beat the Caps. Enjoy!
**All statistics used in this article were found on lightning.nhl.com, capitals.nhl.com and nhl.com. The broken down stats for Dwayne Roloson were found at http://www.nhl.com/ice/player.htm?id=8460806.**
The Tampa Bay Lightning power play is the main reason why they even have a chance against the Caps.
The Bolts power play percentage is 20.7, good for sixth in the NHL, while the Caps power play percentage is 17.0. Also, over the last 10 games, the Bolts are 9 for 39, or close to 25 percent, on the power play.
Their only goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Caps on March 7th came on the power play.
Plus, Steven Stamkos is tied with Vancouver's Daniel Sedin for the league lead of 17 power play goals.
Putting him with Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, Pavel Kubina and possibly Ryan Malone come playoff time could make the Bolts power play more deadly than it already is.
The Lightning boast two of the top five players in the entire NHL, (points-wise) with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.
St. Louis leads the league with 57 assists and is fourth in the league with 83 points, only one point behind Vancouver's Henrik Sedin. Stamkos, on the other hand, leads the league with 43 goals and is second in the league with 86 points, only four points behind Vancouver's other Sedin twin, Daniel.
That's not all though.
Captain Vincent Lecavalier has 18 goals, Teddy Purcell has 16 goals, Sean Bergenheim and Dominic Moore each have 13 goals while Simon Gagne and the injured Ryan Malone, who should be back in time for the playoffs, have 11 goals to make eight Lightning players to eclipse the double-digit mark.
The only Lightning player, after Mike Lundin's first goal of the season in Toronto March 14th, that has been with the Bolts the entire year yet has not registered a goal is defenseman Mattias Ohlund.
Compare that to seven players with double digits in goals for the Caps, and the Bolts have the (slight) edge.
Washington Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau made headlines, and not in a good way, in Tampa prior to the final meeting between the Bolts and the Caps, calling Steven Stamkos, Steve Downie and the majority of the Lightning team "divers."
Don't think for a minute that the Bolts will forget about that bold statement, especially since they lost to his Caps 2-1 in a shootout in the final regular season meeting between the teams.
That loss provides the Bolts with a significant motivation for revenge.
It's obvious the Lightning isn't the best team in shootouts, as evidenced over the past few seasons or, more recently, their shootout loss to the Caps on March 7th.
To put things in perspective, the Bolts are 6-5 in the shootout this season, thanks in large part to three wins in a row in mid January with Ryan Malone, out of the lineup with a stomach injury since late January and not expected back until early April, providing a couple of the game winners.
The Caps, on the other hand, are 3-4 in the shootout.
Compare these records to the overtime records and the Bolts hold the slight edge, given that they are 8-4 compared to the Caps 7-5 in the extra five minute periods.
Also, the Bolts have an overtime win, 1-0, in Washington while the Caps non regulation win came in a shootout, 2-1, with Alex Ovechkin scoring the winning goal.
Given their recent history, no shootouts could prove to be huge for the Bolts.
Since being acquired from the New York Islanders, Dwayne Roloson has been great for the Bolts.
Before arriving in Tampa, he had a 6-13-1 record in net. However, he has been in excellent form for the Lightning, going 14-9-2 with a 2.57 GAA.
Roloson also has a record of 2-1-0-1 against the Caps this season, backstopping the Bolts to a 1-0 overtime shutout win in Washington in his first start after being acquired and a 3-0 shutout a week later in Tampa. He also was in net most recently for the heartbreaking 2-1 shootout loss.
Given these numbers and his recent success against the Caps, I think the Lightning have a good shot as long as Roli is in net. If he's not, well, all bets are off.