Friday, March 12, 2010

Caps vs. Ning 3-12-2010 Preview

Washington Capitals (45-22; 99 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 1st Overall) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (27-39; 66 points; 3rd Southeast Division, 11th Eastern Conference, 24th Overall):
Caps Game #68, Home Game #34, NHL Game #1,001

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: 16 Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and Buffaslugs (Atlanta eliminated 7 of 14)
President's Trophy: 30 San Jose (9 of 29 eliminated)


Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WFED 1500-AM. Tampa TV: Sunshine Network. Radio: WDAE 620-AM.  NHL Center Ice: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and Sunshine Network feeds.

Tonight, the newly minted back-to-back-to-back Southeast Division Champion Washington Capitals wrap up a five game homestand when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning for the third and final time this year.  This is the penultimate meeting between the two teams as the Caps will look to sweep the season series on home ice having beaten the Ning 5-4 last Thursday in the Phone Booth for their third win in the season series.  The Ning are wrapping up a three games in four nights road trip and coming off a pair of losses North of the Border.  On Tuesday night they fell to the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 and last night dropped a 4-3 decision in overtime to the Maple Thug Leafs.  The Ning have just one win in the five games since the Olympic Break ended.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)PostExaminerCaps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.comAP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

St. Petersburg Times: digging deeper, who's in charge, game tonight.  Tampa Tribune: slip slidin' away, roasting Cooke, Scouting ReportNing.com.

What Do We Expect Tonight?:

The Caps issue of motivation took another hit last night with Atlanta's 2-1 loss in Columbus which clinched a playoff spot and third consecutive Southeast Division Title for the Capitals.  The Caps can go .500 for the rest of the season and still clinch the Eastern Conference #1 seed and clearly haven't made winning the President's Trophy a top priority but they have a four point lead right now in that race.  So while the lineup tinkering continues, trying to find the right combinations for the playoffs that won't start until April 15th, the Caps remain in cruise control heading towards the playoffs.  Tonight the Caps get a Ning team that needs every point they can get but aren't doing a very good job of accomplishing that.  And while it doesn't matter to the Caps, the rest of the Southeast Division is very tight with the Ning tied with the Thrashers and the Panthers and Hurricanes tied just two points behind both teams.  It isn't a stretch to say that the Ning need this game tonight more than the Caps do but that has been the case in every game for the Caps since the Olympic Break ended 10 days ago.  We think it really depends on the effort put forth by the Ning tonight who are playing on back-to-back nights and their third game in four nights on the road.  The Caps have been doing just enough to win but we don't think the Ning will have enough to get by because of their schedule.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 4
Ning 3
Winner by Steckel
(36-31 on the season with one perfect game)

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