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Game Day - Capitals @ Lightning

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[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]

In each of the first three games between the Caps and Bolts this season, Washington has out-scored Tampa three-nothing in the first period, and each time it has come against a different goaltender. Be it Olie Kolzig, Mike Smith or Mike McKenna, none has been able to keep his team from finding itself in a 3-0 hole after twenty minutes of play.

Next up - Karri Ramo?

What's particularly interesting about the Caps' early onslaughts against Tampa is the guys doing the scoring. Sure Alex Ovechkin has one. Alex Semin, too. But five of the nine goals have been scored by defensemen - two for Mike Green and one apiece for Tom Poti, Shaone Morrisonn and Sean Collins. In other words, three of the 13 goals scored by Caps' defensemen other than Green this season have been scored in the first period of a trio of games against Tampa. That says a lot, and none of it's good (for either team, really).

Speaking of defensemen, when Matt Lashoff suited up the other night, he became the 20th blueliner that Tampa has used this season and the 48th player overall (NHL record: 55). To put that in some perspective, that's a whole six-man blueline more than the injury-ravaged Caps have used this season (counting Sergei Fedorov), and three players shy of the 51 players that got a sweater for at least one game for Washington during the 2003-04 season (where have you gone, Roman Tvrdon?).

I could go into greater depth about how terrible a team the Bolts are or mention that they're 2-0-2 in their last four or that they've lost five of their last seven games, but that's all largely irrelevant, because it doesn't matter who's on the schedule - if the Caps show up and play hard, they'll win, and if they don't they'll lose. Simple as that.