Caps Outsider Roundtable: Caps vs. Lightning

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Posted May 10, 2018

(Caps Outsider)

Ben Sumner

Something happened to the Caps in this last series that won’t suddenly disappear now that they’ve conquered the invincible Pittsburgh Penguins. Years of losing in the playoffs, especially when they had the league’s best record, adds bitterness to their persona, which translates to grittiness on the ice. The grittiness can turn into wins against teams playing on depth and talent alone. The Caps should know – they’ve been on the other side of that multiple times.

So long as the Caps stay healthy, and Braden Holtby is at the top of his game, there’s no reason they can’t scratch and claw their way to victory against the Lightning.

Caps in 6

Cory Lyons

The Capitals and Lightning went 1-1-1 during the season against one another. This should set up for a great series against one another for the Eastern Conference Finals. The big factor is the health of Nicklas Backstrom. If he plays, he will need to contribute. If his hand plays a factor in him struggling, the Capitals will lose this series. The Lightning are a strong, deep team that plays great defense. The Capitals will have to play consistent on defense and not turn the puck over in the neutral zone throughout the series if they want to win.

Caps in 6

Max Wolpoff

The Lightning may not be the best team, but they are among the more complete teams in the playoffs. Andre Vasilevskiy is a solid goaltender to anchor a great defense and a prolific offense.

Familiarity with some players may fall in Washington’s favor like it did last round. Yanni Gourde and Brayden Point were stars for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch playing against Hershey before they ever got to the main roster. Any insight the former Bears may have is welcomed in stopping them.

Washington is not fully ready for this series without Nicklas Backstrom. They will need him to mitigate the strong centers Tampa has below Steven Stamkos’s top line.

Tampa in 7

Brad Davis

The result of this series could very easily depend on whether or not Nicklas Backstrom and Andre Burakovsky make their way back into the lineup. The Lightning can easily put up a 5 spot on any team, so the Capitals are going to have to find a way to shut them down as they did with Pittsburgh in game six. Tampa has the edge in this series based on health and the fact that they’ve made it through both of their series’ in just 5 games each. This is a hot team. But, we watched the Ottawa freakin’ Senators take the Penguins to overtime in game seven last year. The Capitals, led by Alex Ovechkin, had the weight lifted off of their shoulders after finally making it to this point. This is going to be an incredibly motivated and hungry bunch, so despite what I think about matchups, I think that Washington is going to will their way into the SCF.

Caps in 7

Greg Young

Tampa is likely going to be the better team 5v5 during this series. This playoffs, they’re second in shots on goal and tops in Corsi, Scoring Chances and High Danger Scoring chances. Frankly, this is a better team than the Caps, and they have a lineup that is stacked with an strong combination of high octane forwards, puck moving defensemen and strong goaltending.

That said—and maybe this is the vodka from last night kicking in— I think the Caps have a strong shot in this series. For one, the Caps have featured a dominant power play all playoffs (second in GF/60), and Tampa has a dangerous combination of both taking a lot of penalties (second in PIM/60) and icing a mediocre PK (fourth in GA/60). Second, Braden Holtby is maybe the second hottest goalie in the playoffs (behind Marc-Andre Fleury), and I think he’s probably playing at a slightly stronger level than Andrei Vasilevskiy at this point.

And third, we’re going to hear a lot about Tampa’s scoring depth…and it’s all legit. They have a versatile and deep roster at almost every position. But, I think we’ve seen the Capitals develop depth right before our very eyes. Just in this playoffs, we’ve seen Jakub Vrana go from an (undeserved) healthy scratch to a top 6 forward, Chandler Stephenson fit in seamlessly on the top line, and Christian Djoos carry the anchor of Brooks Orpik (somewhat) successfully. I think there’s something important about this development happening in the playoffs, even if we can’t quite quantify it.

Caps in 7

Brandon Altar

The Caps have made it to the third round for the first time in my lifetime. I couldn’t be happier. I would love more, but I think (yes, again) this is the end of the road. Tampa reminds me of past Pittsburgh teams. 4 lines deep, 3 pairs deep, with an offensive threat on each pair.

For the Caps to win this series, Holtby will need to continue to be a brick wall, Orlov and Niskanen, along with Carlson and Kempny will need to shut down the Bolts’ deadly and fast offense. In addition, the line of Stephenson-Backstrom (If healthy)-Oshie will need to be a “shutdown line”. I just do not see this happening, again. The Caps just do not have the depth to go head-to-head with the Lightning.

Tampa in 6

Philip Van der Vossen

It worked last round, so why not? The Capitals will completely demolish the Lightning and take care of business at home and on the road.

Capitals in 4!