Why the Lightning will beat the Capitals in 6
Ok, lets get right to it. The Tampa Bay Lightning will defeat the Washington Capitals in six games and move on to their Stanley Cup Final in four years.
It’s pretty obvious that what happened during the regular season between these two teams will have no bearing on the outcome of the series. For the record, the Lightning went 2-1 against the Capitals this season.
This is the first trip to the ECF for the Capitals in the Alex Ovechkin era, and the first trip since 1998. These teams have met twice before in the playoffs, with the Lightning winning both series.
Offensively, the Lightning were the best in the NHL this last season averaging 3.54 Goals per game. The Capitals were 9th averaging 3.12 per game. In the postseason, the Capitals lead the league in scoring at 3.58 goals per game, while the lightning are averaging 3.50 goals per game.
The Lightning will need to contain the Capitals top line of Alex Ovechkin, Evegny Kuznetsov, and Tom Wilson, as they supply a good scoring punch for the Caps. Their second line of Jakob Vrana, Lars Eller, and TJ Oshie helps provide some secondary scoring for the Caps as they have combined for 10 goals in the playoffs. Nicklas Backstrom was injured during the Pittsburgh series and will be a game time decision Friday. Backstrom is the third leading scorer on the Caps with 3G and 10A.
Defensively is where the Lightning has the greater advantage. The Bolts are giving up 2.5 goals per game, and have given up 25 goals in the playoffs. In the 6-2 debacle against the Bruins in game 1 of that series, the Lightning allowed one power play goal. They have allowed 8 in the playoffs as they have struggled at times on the PK.
The Capitals have also struggled on the PK as they have given up nine goals Which leads the league in postseason play.
in ten games, the Lightning have allowed 12 even strength goals, which is 1.2 goals per game. What is even more impressive is the Lightning did not allow an even strength goal the last three games of the series against Boston. The Lightning are peaking at the right time defensively and thats what you need to win in the postseason.
D Andre Burakovsky has been out for the Capitals. When healthy, he is a key member of their defensive group. He will travel to Tampa and is skating, but will be a game time decision.
Let’s give the edge to Andrei Vasilevskiy in the battle of goalies. Yes I know Braden Holtby has a 2.04 GAA vs. 2.20 for Vasilevskiy, and his other numbers are a touch better. But, Holtby wasnt even on the radar when the playoffs began as Phillip Grubauer was the starter and was pulled after two games in the Columbus series.
Vasilevskiy has been here before. This is new territory for Holtby and the rest of this Capitals team. Ovechkin has a tendency to melt under the spotlight and if the Lightning defensive group keep him in check, he will get frustrated quickly and off his game.
The Lightning will play a more physical game, their overall team speed is better, and everything is just lining up In Tampa Bay’s favor. Lightning win it six against the Capitals.