Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Caps @ Ning 1-12-2010 Preview

Washington Capitals (29-17; 60 points; 1st Southeast Division, 3rd Eastern Conference, 5th Overall) @ Tampa Bay Lightning  (17-27; 44 points; 3rd Southeast Division, 12th Eastern Conference, 25th Overall):
Caps Game #45, Road Game #25, NHL Game #685

Caps "Magic Numbers" (Caps Points Earned+Lost by team named) to clinch:
Playoff Spot: 60 Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Ottawa
Southeast Division Championship: 60 Atlanta and Tampa Bay
Eastern Conference #1 Seed: 81 New Jersey
President's Trophy: 81 New Jersey


St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, FL, 7:37 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Plus. Radio: WFED 1500-AM. Tampa TV: Sunshine Network. Radio: WDAE 620-AM.  NHL Center Ice: Sunshine Network and Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Plus feeds.

Tonight the Caps start their one and only back-to-back set of games in the state of Florida when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second time this season.  The Caps posted a 3-0 shutout the first time around in Tampa for the team's 12 straight win over the Ning.  The Ning are another team hanging around the edges of the NHL's playoff picture as they currently sit four points behind Montreal with three games in hand.  Tampa had an interesting weekend in which they lost in Philadelphia on Saturday night 4-1 and returned to New Jersey on Sunday to wrap up a 4-2 win in a game that started on Friday night to continue a pattern of alternating wins and losses over their last six games.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)PostExaminerCaps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.comAP wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

St. Petersburg Times: cooling offGame Preview.  Tampa Tribune: bright future, Scouting Report.  Ning.com.

What Do We Expect Tonight?:

So once again after posting 8 goals in one game on the road, the Caps continue the trip in Tampa and the last time the Caps were there, five weeks ago, Semyon "The Saviour" Varlamov started his latest injury string.  The Ning are a dangerous opponent for the Caps because with their 10 Bettman Points, second in the league behind Dallas, they posses an ability to continue to hang around in games.  Furthermore, as the Caps 12 game winning streak against the Ning grows, the more the streak is going to become a focal point of the matchup over anything else.  The Caps talked about putting distance between themselves and their Southeast Division opponents on this trip and while they rang up 8 goals on the Thrashers, they didn't get off to the best of starts by all accounts on Saturday night.  Anytime Bruce Boudreau is complaining about the puck being in the Caps zone the entire time, the Caps didn't get off to a good start.  But they came away with what looked like an easy win.  Tampa however is not a team in turmoil right now like Atlanta is.  At least not yet.  The Ning are improved over last season having found the stability on the back end that eluded them all of last season.  However, this is still a team that the Caps should be able to handle easily provided they don't take them lightly.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 4
Ning 1
Winner by Steckel
(22-22 on the season with one perfect game)

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