Welcome to Tampa Basement, where the Bolts are doing everything in their power to up their odds of winning the draft lottery, most recently scratching goalie-of-the-future Mike Smith due to a very minor "sprained left ankle" and recalling Marc Denis (he of the 1-5 record, the 4.05 GAA and the .853 save percentage) on an emergency basis - the emergency being that Tampa was in danger of ending up with more points than Los Angeles, Atlanta and possibly St. Louis.
This, my friends, is called "Pulling a Yeats" - look out below.
But even Matt Yeats won a game back in 2003-04 (against the Pens, no less, thanks in large part to a pair of goals from Trent Whitfield... seriously), a reminder that games are played not on paper but on ice, so the Caps had better not look past this one. And to bring things full circle, the second star in that Caps/Pens tilt for the ages was none other than current Lightning pivot Jeff Halpern, who has caught fire since being traded back to the Southeast Division, racking up seven goals and eight assists in 13 games (apparently he didn't get the Yeats memo).
So the plan is simple: take care of business in Hockey Bay (whatever the hell that is), and- well, since the Caps shouldn't look past this one, I won't either.
Two points await in Tampa, boys. Go get 'em.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
If you thought Alex Ovechkin was going to be a Cap into the 2020s, think again - he's obviously going to go back to play in Mother Russia before then.... Luckily for the Flyers, Simon Gagne has decided that once his team has done the heavy lifting and gotten to the Stanley Cup Finals, he'll declare himself ready to play.... One year ago today we previewed that night's game and you guys added insult to my personal injury and saw that Sid really was thirsty, and two years ago today we looked at anti-left wing bias in the media and peeked into TSN.ca's mailbag. Finally, I hate to desert you guys at a time like this, but I have to head west for the weekend. I'll leave you in KB's capable hands, but it's on you all to keep things lively. Deal?
- Hart: Milan Hejduk (2G, including the game-winner, A, +1, 5 SOG)
- Ross: Mikko Koivu, Milan Hejduk, Peter Forsberg, Peter Stastny (3 points each)
- Norris: Clay Wilson (G, A, +2, 3 SOG)
- Vezina: Jonas Hiller (31 saves on 32 shots against in shootout win)
- Richard: Milan Hejduk (2G)
- Calder: Jonas Hiller (31 saves on 32 shots against in shootout win)
- Aiken: Roberto Luongo (L, 5 goals allowed on 23 shots against in 31:31 of work)