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 III, we look at the youth of Michal Neuvirth v. the experience of Dwayne Roloson.
In the first round series against the New York Rangers, Michal Neuvirth took command of the series with his stellar goaltending. Neuvirth led all goaltenders who started a minimum of five games with a 1.38 GAA and was second with a .946 SV%. The five games of the Rangers series were Neuvirth's first five career playoffs games. The same can't be said about the goaltender he will match up against: Dwayne Roloson.
Roloson, who is 18 years older than Neuvirth, has played in 40 career playoff games and sports a 22-14-1 record in those games. Roloson is second with a 1.77 GAA and first in the NHL with a .949 SV% for goaltenders with a minimum of five games. The Lightning acquired Roloson from the New York Islanders January 1 and he shut out the Caps in his first start January 4. Eight days later, he did it again in a 3-0 win. Washington eventually solved the Roloson quagmire in the final two meetings of the season against Tampa Bay, scoring seven goals.
Neuvirth must continue his fantastic play if the Caps have any chance to advance. Much like they did against the Rangers, the Caps will have to crash the net and pressure Roloson. When they did, he unraveled quickly. And even threw punches.