The 2011 NHL Playoffs second-round series schedule between the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning has now been set. Here is our six-part preview of the series. In Part I, we look at both teams' offense.
If there's an offense in the Eastern Conference that can possibly rival the Washington Capitals' typically high-powered offense, it's the Tampa Bay Lightning. Featuring several skilled forwards, the Lightning can find several ways to score.
The Lightning feature two of the NHL's top five scorers during the regular season: Martin St. Louis (99 points) and Steven Stamkos (91 points). Stamkos' 45 goals are down from last season's 51, but despite going through a major slump (he scored 31 of his 45 goals during the 2010 portion of the season), he is one of the most dangerous scorers in the NHL. St. Louis led the Lightning with four goals and eight points in their series win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tampa Bay has 10 double-digit goal scorers that range from the skilled (St. Louis, Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier, Simon Gagne) to the gritty (Ryan Malone, Steve Downie, Nate Thompson). For the Caps to compete, they might have to rely on their offense as much as their defense. Washington scored 13 total goals against the New York Rangers, but Tampa Bay scored 25 against Pittsburgh, including an 8-2 drubbing in Game 5. Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin each had three goals against the Rangers and will have to do more to beat the Lightning. This series could become a shootout very easily and the Caps' scorers will need to be on their best game.