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NHL Playoffs Schedule: Capitals Vs. Lightning Play Back-To-Back Games Due To South Florida Graduation

The 2011 NHL Playoffs schedule for the second-round series between the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning included a peculiar twist: Games 3 and 4 in Tampa Bay were scheduled for back-to-back nights on Tuesday, May 2 and Wednesday, May 3. Normally, the NHL does everything possible to avoid this kind of scenario, and there isn't an NBA team in Tampa Bay that could cause an arena conflict.

So why are the Capitals and Lightning playing back-to-back games? Because of a graduation. According to Steve Whyno of the Washington Times, the arena is booked for Thursday night for the University of South Florida's commencement.

Game 3 is set for Tuesday night at St. Pete Times Forum, while Game 4 will be Wednesday night. Game 4 cannot be Thursday because the arena is booked for the University of South Florida's spring commencement ceremonies. The school's on-ice arena is being refurbished, so this is the first year USF's graduation is at the Forum.

Game 5 also has a conflict that caused it to be moved up to 12:30 p.m. NBC is showing the Kentucky Derby later in the day, forcing the early start. These two factors in part explain one of the wackier series schedules we'll see in some time.