When the Caps and Bolts take to the ice tonight at the V.C., they'll be two teams headed in opposite directions. Tampa is a recent League Champ whose best days seem to be behind them as they struggle with salary cap management and currently sit in 13th place in the Conference after going 2-7-1 in their last ten games. The Caps, on the other hand, have nearly enough cap space to support an entire other NHL team, are 7-2-1 in their last ten tilts and are in sixth place and (hopefully) rising in the East.
Yet for all of these apparent on- and off-ice differences, I'm not ready to bury the Lightning quite yet. Sure, their goaltending has been suspect. And their blueline is mediocre. And they have no depth up front. But as long as they have the most talented triplets to terrorize the nation's capital since Troy, Emmit and Michael, they're a team with which to be reckoned in my book, and it will take a big effort to beat them.
One more interesting fact about the Bolts: I have Brad Richards, Dan Boyle, Ryan Craig and Paul Ranger on my fantasy team. Paul Ranger belongs on no man's fantasy team.
I'll have more thoughts on the game throughout the day over on the ol' SeSo, and please stop by the Open Thread and make yourself heard.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
- Dave Fay profiles the improvements in Boyd Gordon's game. Tarik el-Bashir similarly discusses Alex Ovechkin's improved play. Which are you going to read first? I thought so.
- Frodo St. Louis is in the holiday spirit. Are you?
- Some yokel out in San Fran doesn't think Sid and Alex are superstars (maybe it's a title he reserves for Nancy Pelosi).
- Gambling = bad. Sign the petition (and check out who already has).
- The Caps are up to ninth on ESPN's power rankings.
- If you're headed to Friday night's game against the Devils, wear a pair of reflective sunglasses and watch Marty Brodeur cry like a little girl.
- Hart: Sergei Fedorov (2G, including game-winner, A, +2, 3 SOG, 1 hit)
- Ross: Sergei Fedorov, Dan Fritsche (3 points each)
- Norris: Chris Pronger (2A, 7 SOG)
- Vezina: J.-S. Giguere (W, 27 saves on 28 shots against, A)
- Richard: Sergei Fedorov, Robert Lang (2G each)
- Calder: Dustin Penner (G, A, +1)
- Aiken: Dominik Hasek (3 goals allowed on 12 shots against in just one period of work)