The second round of the NHL Eastern Conference playoffs pits the Washington Capitals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The two Southeast division teams met in the playoffs in 2003 and I watched the young Bolts come back from a 2-0 defecit to take the series. Games 3 and 4 that year are the only NHL playoff games I have ever seen in person. As I mentioned earlier, that series and lack of attendance got Ted Leonsis to start rebuilding the team. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup the following season.
Much has changed — the Caps rebuilt completely with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Alexander Semin. Tampa Bay has rebuilt, but also retain Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavilier whom I learned to dislike a lot in 2003. Tampa Bay just won a seven games series over the depleted Pittsburgh Penguins, the first likable thing they have ever done. They have 41-year old Dwayne Roloson in net and he shut out the Caps twice since heading from the New York Islander to the Lightning. They will doubtlessly be tired, but they have momentum and I would not be shocked if they won game 1 tonight in D.C.
I expect a tough series, the Lightning are not the heavy underdogs they make themselves out to be. I think ultimately though, that the Capitals overall better talent and rest is enough to win, but I think it takes six games.