For the better part of the last two years, the Washington Capitals have been able to beat up on subpar competition in the NHL's Southeast Division. That's no longer the case, though. There's a new challenger to the throne, and it's the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are fourth in the Eastern Conference with 18 points, and are one of the surprise teams in the league.
Tonight, the Capitals get their first look at their new Southeast rivals, in what may be the Capitals' biggest game against a division foe in years. The Lightning are surging, led by their superstar center Steven Stamkos. The former first overall pick is second in the NHL in scoring, and leads the NHL in goals. SB Nation's Capitals blog Japers Rink has an excellent rundown of the marquee matchup between Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin here.
The Capitals have passed all their recent tests, with wins over the Bruins, Flyers and Rangers. Can they now pass an entirely new test against a division foe. We will find out tonight at 7 p.m.