No intros required for Caps, Lightning

No intros required for Caps, Lightning
April 28, 2011, 9:49 pm
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Thursday, April 28, 2011, 5:48 p.m.

By Ryan OHalloran
Staff WriterCSNwashington.com

CAPITALS PAGE CAPITALS VIDEO

When the Capitals convened in the video room Thursday morning, introductions to the Tampa Bay Lightning were not required.

The Capitals and Lightning jousted six times during the regular season and start their Eastern Conference semifinal series Friday at 7 p.m.

Alex Ovechkin knows hell have to match Steven Stamkos goal for goal.

Karl Alzner knows Tampa Bays power play scored a league-high eight times in the first round.

And Marco Sturm knows the Lightnings system under first-year coach Guy Boucher is to be opportunistic in the neutral zone.

Playing them as much as we did this year, we know what to expect, and Im sure they do, too, defenseman Scott Hannan said.

Nonetheless, the Capitals got a crash course from coach Bruce Boudreau before practice and then spent most of the on-ice workout preparing for Tampa Bay.

You can lay off a little bit on the video, but we still wanted to refresh all that stuff, because teams change and we have to watch what they did in the last three games especially, Alzner said.

What the Lighting did the last three games was rally from a 3-1 deficit, capped by a 1-0 win Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The Lightning flew immediately to the Washington area but did not practice Thursday.

Despite the short layoff, the Capitals expect Tampa Bay to be ready for the Game 1 faceoff.

Theyve got their rhythm now, Sturm said. They know exactly what to do and have played every other night, and we had a week off. Its going to be a big challenge.

Boudreau said: Today they rest. Tomorrow they ramp it up.

Once the series starts, special teams figure to be the key for the Capitals.

The Lightning lived by their power play against Pittsburgh and was sixth in the league during the regular season. But against the Capitals, they were a woeful 3 of 26 (11.5 percent).

Special teams was an emphasis during the Capitals practice. They were 5 of 16 on the man advantage against the Rangers.

The PP, I think, we can still improve on that, Sturm said. But other than that, we played pretty solid and everybody chipped in pretty good.

Ovechkin said: Power play and penalty kill in the playoffs are one of the most important things. When you have a chance to score the goals on the power play, you have to score.

On the power play, Ovechkin and Stamkos will be major points of emphasis. Ovechkin led the Capitals in the first round with six points, and Stamkos had four points against Pittsburgh.

As a fan of hockey, it definitely has a good build-up, Boudreau said of the individual match-up. But theyve got more than Steven Stamkos. Theyve got Martin St. Louis, who was one of the best players in the league again this year, and Vincent Lecavalier, who had a bounce-back season and is playing with a lot more enthusiasm.

No Capitals player remains from Tampa Bays six-game series victory over Washington in 2003, but St. Louis and Lecavalier remain on the Lightnings roster. Another graybeard is goalie Dwayne Roloson, 41, acquired in January from the Islanders.

Roloson spearheaded the Lightnings comeback by allowing only four goals in the last three games, and hes very capable of stealing a game.

This series could intensify the teams rivalry as postseason meetings usually do.

Six tough games in the regular season it should be interesting, Boudreau said. Especially going against a team in your own division especially right now.

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com.