With the second half of the season now upon us, if we're not quite down to the short strokes, we're certainly at least using our pitching wedge. When the Caps faceoff against the Lightning tonight in Tampa, it will be a matchup of the Eastern Conference's eighth- and ninth-place teams, separated in the standings by one point and one game played (the former advantage belonging to the Caps, the latter to the Bolts). How even are these teams? They have identical 11-11-1 records over their last 23 games.
A few notes on the game:
- The Lightning possess the League's top goal-scoring duo in Vinny Lecavalier and Frodo St. Louis who have lit the lamp 51 times between them (one more than the Caps' dynamic pair of Alexes in six more man-games).
- Tampa has the League's worst penalty kill (76.4%), but have been shorthanded the second-fewest times in the League.
- Despite Tampa goalies Johan Holmqvist and Marc Denis owning the League's third- and second-worst save percentages, respectively, the Bolts actually have a better team goals against average than the Caps. How? Tampa is giving up the third fewest shots on goal per game in the League (imagine their record with a better goalie back there).
- Tampa is 5-2 in overtime (including 3-1 in the shootout). The Caps are 3-7 (0-5).
- Some good numbers for the Caps: they're 6-3-3 on the first game of a road trip, 8-5-5 following a win (additional good numer: Tampa is 9-10-1 after a victory), and 8-6-4 with one day off so far this season.
- The Bolts are 15-8 when scoring first, 6-13-2 when giving up the first goal. The Caps are 14-3-3 when scoring first, 5-14-4 when surrending the first tally.
Be sure to stop by the SeSo Open Thread for more analysis throughout the day, highlights of the last matchup between these two teams and to talk a little trash of your own to the Tampa faithful.
- Hart: Olli Jokinen (3G, including game-winner, +2, 5 SOG)
- Ross: Olli Jokinen, Jozef Stumpel, Martin Gelinas (3 points each)
- Norris: Barret Jackman (2A, +1, 1 SOG, 1 hit, 4 blocked shots)
- Vezina: Ryan Miller (W, 34 saves on 35 shots against)
- Richard: Olli Jokinen (3G)
- Calder: Evgeni Malkin (G, +1, 3 SOG)
- Aiken: Ryan Malone (0 points, -2, 0 SOG, 1 missed shot, 3 giveaways, 0 takeaways despite 26 shifts and 18:28 of ice time)