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 the final part of our series, we make a series prediction.
This is the second time that the Caps and Lightning have met in the playoffs and the first time since 2002-03. In that first round series, the Caps blew a 2-0 series lead and lost in six games.
The Caps cannot allow their six days of rest to stop their momentum. Tampa Bay has momentum of their own on their side, having erased a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins, but only gets one day off between series. Game 1 Friday will be incredibly important for setting the tone for the rest of the series. The series schedule features four games in six days, including back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday, so there will be little time to dwell on each game.
It will be Tampa Bay's offense v. Washington's defense. The Lightning are capable of blowing their opponents out with relative ease, so the Caps' defense must stop them. With that in mind, the Caps must rattle Dwayne Roloson. He has shown that he is susceptible to poor performances, but he can also steal games. Look for the Caps to play a style similar to what worked against the Rangers and find a way to stymie the Lighting's top scorers. The Caps will move on to the Eastern Conference Finals by disposing of the Lightning in six games.