The Lightning have been pumped the first two games this series, 4-2 and 6-2, nothing to be proud of when it comes to the Eastern Conference finals and being the number one team in the East. The Lightning were written off as a favorite for this series before it even began. Now, after two games the Lightning have a chance to be swept and eliminated in their second Eastern Conference final in the last four years. The positive for Tampa is that they bounced back greatly from missing the playoffs last year to this now. Negative though they were favorites to win the Stanley Cup at the beginning of the year along with the Predators. Now fast forward to being down 2-0 the Capitals are now favorites to win it all.
What has been the Lightning’s biggest reason for their poor start though? A few things. Andrei Vasalevskiy has been subpar at best, getting yanked in the first game to allowing six goals in the second game. Kucherov has been almost non-existent besides the assist to Stamkos on the power play in game one and two. Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde have been nowhere to be found, their top performers and depth guys went from scoring to now nothing. Their defense has been pretty bad, to say the least. Allowing 32 shots on goal the first game to 37 the second game, and allowing a combined 10 goals in two games is not great. Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh have not been able to figure out a balance to the Capitals line up and the Capitals are exposing the Lightning’s defense when both Hedman and McDonagh are not on the ice.
BUT, there is still room for improvement on the Lighting’s side. Three keys to the Lightning’s success…
3 Keys to the Lightning’ success tonight…
(1) Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi need to step up and be more consistent. Coming from New York they know this Capitals team very well. They should be more than capable of stopping these guys and knowing what they are going to do. We will need to see these two really take charge and lead the way tonight. As Hedman is the guy, McDonagh and Girardi know the Capitals, use their experience and relay it to the rest of the team.
(2) Depth guys. Need to show up. Tyler Johnson, Alex Killron, JT Miller, Yanni Gourde, Brayden Point need to come up big this game. Not meaning only on the scoreboard but make it hard on the Capitals forwards and defenseman. A defense with Michael Kempny, Brooks Orpik, and Christian Djoos should not be this hard to score or even get some pressure in the offensive zone. It is not all about scoring, but it is about showing up and doing something each shift. Some of these guys have not even been noticeable on the ice meanwhile guys like Alex Chiasson are causing havoc out there even though he is not scoring every goal. Make it difficult, cause some havoc and put some pressure on the Capitals defenseman and forwards.
(3) Andrei Vasilevskiy needs to make a save or 30. Through 2 games he has allowed 9 goals, has been pulled once and has not looked like the Vezina goalie he was nominated to be. They are going to need Vasilevskiy to steal a game here tonight. In Washington, up 2-0 the crowd will be going nuts, and it will not be easy for the Lighting forwards to get much going, therefore Vasilevskiy needs to come up big tonight.
Aside from the first three keys, the Lightning needs to stop the Capitals from quick starts and start winning puck races. They will most certainly need Vasilevskiy to play one of the best games of his career but it is a team effort and they need to help the goaltender out back there. By doing so, they need to win some puck battles. The Lightning have lost every puck race it seems like and the Capitals have scored in the first minute two games now! Stop the Capitals from scoring first, pop the first one, eliminate the Capitals power play chances, win puck races and we may see a different outcome.
A look at what Vegas is saying…
Clearly, Washington is the favorite here, after winning the first two and heading home they are clearly the favorite. The opening line right now is Tampa Bay+100 and Washington -120, the over/under is 6 goals and the other sites are also saying for Tampa to be around +100 to +105, while Washington is -120 to -115 across the board. Clearly, the books are saying Washington here, but the odd thing is based on some bets thus far it has been 52 percent Tampa and 71 percent Washington, as of now. The line is standing at Washington -120 and Tampa +100. As the day goes on the line can change based on the number of bets coming in for each team. Therefore monitor it and I will check back on the line later. To find out the line, follow me on twitter @santageetee