Washington (0-0) at Tampa Bay (0-0)
When: Friday, May 11th 2018
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBCS
Opening Odds: Tampa Bay -145/5.5
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The Washington Capitals have “Exorcised the Demons” by putting away the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, but now must face another team they’ve had trouble beating in the postseason. The Tampa Bay Lightning are up next in Washington’s quest for their first championship in the Alex Ovechkin era. Tampa Bay has won eight-consecutive playoff games against the Capitals, taking the final four contests in 2003 and sweeping in 2011. The Lightning also have the experience edge, with 18 players that have combined for 273 conference final games and the Capitals total is 28 going into the series. Tampa knocked out the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins in five games each and will host Game 1 on Friday night at Amalie Arena. The Lightning have reached the conference final three times in the last four seasons and Washington makes its first appearance since 1998. Washington climbed out of a 2-0 hole in the first round by winning four in a row against the Columbus Blue Jackets and triumphed at Pittsburgh in Game 6 without standout center Nicklas Backstrom, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Backstrom boasts 13 points in the playoffs and has been skating on his own while forward Andre Burakovsky (upper-body injury) practiced Thursday and is also considered day-to-day after missing the last 10 games. Ovechkin has a team-high eight goals in 12 playoff games, and his club-best 15 points are one better than linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov – who scored the overtime winner in Game 6 at Pittsburgh. Defensemen John Carlson (11 points) and Brooks Orpik (+9 rating), are also contributing to the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run. Goalie Braden Holtby, who owns a 2.04 GAA in the playoffs, is 9-3-2 with a .910 save percentage in 16 career games against the Lightning.
The combination of Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat have shut-down their opponent’s top line at even strength in the first two series and will likely get another test with the Tom Wilson-Kuznetsov-Ovechkin line. Offensively, Nikita Kucherov leads the team with six goals and 12 points in the playoffs while linemate Steven Stamkos scored two of his three goals in the last three games. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has a solid 2.20 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in the postseason, but was 0-3-0 versus the Capitals before winning two of three while posting a .930 SP against them this regular season.
Its going to take a game or two for Washington to come down from their high of beating Pittsburgh. The relieved looks on their faces after the overtime winner against Boston said it all. There has to be some sort of a letdown coming into this series. Tampa is well rested and ready to roll in Game 1.
Pick: Lightning -175
- Capitals are 10-1 in their last 11 road games.
- Capitals are 9-1 in their last 10 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Capitals are 8-2 in their last 10 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Capitals are 4-1 in their last 5 Conference Finals games.
- Capitals are 69-23 in their last 92 vs. Atlantic.
- Capitals are 20-7 in their last 27 overall.
- Capitals are 5-2 in their last 7 games following a win.
- Capitals are 38-16 in their last 54 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Capitals are 55-26 in their last 81 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Capitals are 40-19 in their last 59 Friday games.
- Capitals are 76-37 in their last 113 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Capitals are 35-17 in their last 52 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Lightning are 4-1 in their last 5 vs. Metropolitan.
- Lightning are 4-1 in their last 5 games following a win.
- Lightning are 4-1 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Lightning are 40-12 in their last 52 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Lightning are 39-12 in their last 51 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Lightning are 6-2 in their last 8 Friday games.
- Lightning are 38-14 in their last 52 home games.
- Lightning are 36-16 in their last 52 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Lightning are 70-32 in their last 102 overall.
- Lightning are 40-19 in their last 59 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
- Lightning are 44-21 in their last 65 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Over is 10-1 in Capitals last 11 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
- Over is 21-7-1 in Capitals last 29 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Under is 6-2 in Capitals last 8 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Over is 18-7-1 in Capitals last 26 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Over is 4-0 in Lightning last 4 Friday games.
- Under is 4-1-2 in Lightning last 7 vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Over is 4-1-1 in Lightning last 6 Conference Finals games.
- Over is 11-3 in Lightning last 14 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Over is 14-5-2 in Lightning last 21 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Over is 21-8-1 in Lightning last 30 vs. Metropolitan.
- Over is 13-5 in Lightning last 18 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
- Over is 23-9 in Lightning last 32 games following a win.
- Over is 23-11-3 in Lightning last 37 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Over is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings in Tampa Bay.
- Home team is 20-7 in the last 27 meetings.
- Over is 19-7-1 in the last 27 meetings.
- Capitals are 35-17 in the last 52 meetings.