Saturday, March 20, 2010

Caps @ Ning 3-20-2010 Preview

Washington Capitals (47-24; 104 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 1st Overall) @ Tampa Bay Lightning (28-42; 68 points; 3rd Southeast Division, 11th Eastern Conference, 25th Overall):
Caps Game #72, Road Game #38, NHL Game #1,063

Caps "Magic Numbers" (Caps Points Earned+Lost by team named) to clinch:
Playoff Spot: Clinched 3/11

Southeast Division Championship: Clinched 3/11
Eastern Conference #1 Seed: 8 New Jersey (11 of 14 eliminated)
President's Trophy: 16 Chicago (18 of 29 eliminated)


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

Tonight, the Caps finish off their last extended road trip of the season when they head back into Florida to face the Ning for the sixth and final time this season.  The Caps have won three of the five games so far this season but the Ning won the last matchup last Friday 3-2 in the Phone Booth.  However, since that win, the Ning have embarked on a three game losing streak, all at home, and wrap up a four game homestand tonight.  In their last outing, the Ning got blasted by the Buffaslugs by the tune of 6-2.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)PostCaps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.comAP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

St. Petersburg Times: keep it simple, stupid, Game Preview.  Tampa Tribune: top talent, Scouting ReportNing.com.

What Do We Expect Tonight?:

Well folks, he's back.  With his latest suspension over, which Captain A.O. is going to show up tonight?  The tentative Captain A.O. who doesn't hit as much and looked to avoid further suspension?  Or the Captain A.O. of old who went all out on every shift, hitting everything that moved, and a few things that didn't?  Hopefully the latter and not the former.  Furthermore, with the return of Captain A.O., the rest of team will continue to pick up the slack instead of giving him the puck and watching him go.  If Captain A.O. plays with "reckless abandon" and the rest of the team carries their weight, this won't be a close game.  However Bruce Boudreau has a tough choice to make tonight because with Captain A.O. coming back, somebody has to come out of the lineup.  The nominal third line of Jason Chimera, Eric B. Fehr, and Brendan Morrrissonn have been too good over these last two games to be broken up.  Tomas Fleischmann, who filled in for Captain A.O. on the first line, has shown that he can't handle the second line center position and is a bigger waste than usual on the fourth line.  But, expect Fleischmann to go back on the second line and Eric Belanger to either go to the fourth line or get scratched.  One of other thing we'd like to note, this is the first time since the Captain A.O.-Steve Downie incident back in January that the Caps return to Tampa.  Yes, the Caps and Ning have played twice since then without incident but remember The Code...er...Crock.  It calls for something like this to be settled on the home ice of the aggrieved party which in this warped case would be Tampa.  Downie tried and failed to do everybody a favor and take out Canadian Diving Team Captain, Lowblow Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby on Sunday (and oddly enough, escaped any supplemental discipline) on home ice.  We expect him to try a similar stunt with Captain A.O. tonight.  Matt "Omar" Bradley needs to be on standby tonight to bleed all over Downie.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 5
Ning 1
Winner by Semin
(38-33 on the season with one perfect game)

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