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Caps-Lightning Prognostication Center

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    NEWSLETTERS

    As part of our Capitals playoff coverage, we're turning to the guys and gals we run into frequently in the press box, the locker room and the local watering holes for their thoughts on each series.

    Quickly looking back at Caps-Rangers series, several of our prognosticators correctly picked the winner and number of games -- Caps in 5. Kudos to Dave Nichols, Angie Lewis, Chris Kerwin and ... Sean Leahy?  Leahy got it right?  Who canceled? Kreskin?

    Here is a rundown of how some of the local and national experts see the Capitals-Lightning series playing out, in no particular order:


     J.P. of Japers' Rink:

    (http://www.japersrink.com/ and @japersrink)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: Finally, something that'll help develop that almost non-existent Southeast Division rivalry.

    Matchup to Watch: Steve Downie vs. humanity

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Ovechkin

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: Semin

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: 0. The League takes the issue of head injuries very seriously and would never let one of its star players -- who recently missed two months due to a concussion (or two, depending upon where you get your news) -- be the target of such tactics.

    Just kidding. He gets targeted once. Per shift.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: Boudreau? Complain about officiating (or a lack thereof)? Never!

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: Twice.

    X-Factor: Nicklas Backstrom

    Series Prediction: Caps in 6.

     

    Ben Sumner, CapitalsOutsider

    (http://capitalsoutsider.com/ and @benjaminsumner)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: The Capitals are facing a team that they have no business losing to in the playoffs. Though the Lightning shut them out twice during the regular season, both games were close and during a stretch when Washington wasn't playing as well as it is now.

    Matchup to Watch: Eric Fehr vs. Mike Knuble for playing time.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Ovechkin 9, Stamkos 3.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: Semin 12, St. Louis 1.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: One.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: One.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: Who is Dominic Moore?

    X-Factor: Alex Semin. He's had two hat tricks against the Lightning this season. Though the Caps play defensively now, regaining that score-at-will touch is still possible.

    Series Prediction: Caps in 6.

     

     

    Sean Leahy, Yahoo! Sports Puck Daddy:

    (http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy and @sean_leahy)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: It'll be interesting to see how the Caps continue to charge toward the Stanley Cup finals with their new approach. They've fully bought in as shown in the first round against the Rangers and, as the games get tighter and tighter as the playoffs goes on, Washington's defense must also evolve. After facing a Ranger team not known for offensive exploits, the Lightning will provide a tougher challenge with the firepower they can bring.

    Matchup to Watch: Martin St. Louis against the Caps' defensive system. The Hart Trophy nominee has been red hot, and against these Caps, he shouldn't have to carry the load with the Stamkoses and Lecavaliers in their lineup, but he might have to if those guns go quiet, like they did at times against the Penguins.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Ovechkin. Stamkos is playing like he's been bothered by injury.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: St. Louis. He's done it all for the most part so far for Tampa and I think he'll continue to do the same.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: Zero. That will only hold unless Steve Downie receives a reverse lobotomy and goes back to his crazy ways.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: Zero. But this will change if the Caps are somehow down in the series and Bruce feels the need to work the refs ... maybe not like Mike Gillis, but work them to get more calls for his club.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: Depends on how many games Mike Emrick does. They play on NBC once, but who knows if Emrick will be on the call for any of the VERSUS games. I'll set the over/under at 5 on this one.

    X-Factor: Will Tampa's offensive stars show up? They're not a strong defensive team, so if their offense fails, the Caps can utilize that to their advantage.

    Series Prediction: Caps in 6. 

     

    Jeff Greenberg, NBC Washington Executive Producer, Sports

    (NBC Washington's Capital Games)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: Much tougher than the Rangers and probably tougher than the Penguins would have been. Tampa Bay's power play is lethal, and they have several strong scoring options. But can you win with a plus-40 goaltender?

    Matchup to Watch: Capitals offense vs Roloson. If they can't solve him early and often, it could be a tough series.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Ovechkin, but less than St.Louis.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: Semin scored more goals against Tampa than any other team this season, but St.Louis will score the most of either team this series.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: It's not others targeting Green, it's Green targeting the puck with his head. So one -- and he’s done.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: No more times than he’ll complain about the St. Pete Times Forum.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: Once per game.

    X-Factor: Caps PK unit could either win it or lose it. X-factor is how many dumb penalties they take.

    Series Prediction: Lightning in 7.

     

    Ed Frankovic, WNST 1570 Baltimore

    (http://wnst.net/wordpress/edfrankovic/ and @emfrank123)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: To me this is a series between two teams with some highly skilled forwards. Will the trio of Alex Ovechkin-Alex Semin-Nicklas Backstrom out-duel Marty St. Louis-Steve Stamkos-Vinny Lecavalier? Or will the difference in the series be players like Jason Arnott, Brooks Laich, or Marcus Johansson from Washington or Steve Downie, Simon Gagne, or Ryan Malone from the Bolts?

    Both teams have very good forwards and both are riding a hot goalie. To me, the Caps have the superior blue line if they stay healthy, and they have even more of an advantage if Dennis Wideman returns at a fully healthy level.

    Matchup to Watch: Capitals forwards vs. Tampa Bay's defense. The Bolts did a great job of keeping the Penguins forwards to the perimeter and didn't allow many quality shots. Was that a function of Tampa's D or more of the Penguins lack of firepower with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out?

    The Capitals must continue to get to the front of the net or they could suffer a fate similar to what Montreal did to them last post season.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Ovechkin.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: Semin.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: At least five, more if he is anywhere near cheap shot artist Mattias Ohlund, who is a dirty player, in my book. Also, don't forget that Downie is a head case and over-the-top dirty player, too, who is known to run opposing defensemen.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: After every game, especially if Ohlund and Downie continue to take liberties.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: At least once a game. Those TV guys love players like Moore.

    X-Factor: The way the Capitals respond to the extra rest, and if fatigue sets in with some of the older Tampa players. Washington has a chance to jump on the Bolts and get them down early. If they can do that, the Lightning might not recover given that they had to expend a ton of energy to come back and beat Pittsburgh.

    Series Prediction: Caps in 6.

     

    Michael Menser Dell, LCSHockey.com:

    (http://www.lcshockey.com and @MichaelPaulDell)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: It's always swell when division rivals get together. And with lots of fire power on both sides, it should make for an entertaining affair. Then again, with Washington's new commitment to defense, and Guy Boucher working his 1-3-1 zaniness (which he denies like a covert CIA operation), it might be lower scoring than people think.

    Matchup to Watch: The big matchup for me is Dwayne Roloson against the Caps' snipers. Roloson didn't have to face any pure shooters in the Pittsburgh series.

    Yeah, James Neal can rifle a puck and Alexei Kovalev was only a time machine away from being a factor, but neither guy can match Semin or Ovechkin. And coming off an intense seven-game series, the 41-year-old Roloson might be too worn down to keep the Washington offense in check. Because I've got a hunch the Caps, unlike Pittsburgh, won't go 1-for-300 on the power play.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Ovechkin.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: Semin.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: Not enough. Aw, relax. I tease in fun. But why don't they just let him wear his Vespa helmet? That thing screams "safety."

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: Less than the number of times he complains about the lack of variety at Baskin-Robbins.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: Less than the number of times the average hockey fan says, "Who in the blue hell is Dominic Moore?"

    X-Factor: Roloson's age.

    Series Prediction: The Caps in 5. And I know you didn't ask, but I still think Washington should start Don Beaupre in goal.

     

    Dave Nichols, Capital News Network:

    (http://capsnewsnetwork.blogspot.com/ and @capsnewsnetwork)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: Tampa Bay is much more talented offensively than the Rangers, so the Caps must continue to play stifling defense and receive stellar goaltending in the second round. The Lightning had 10 double-digit goal scorers in the regular season, so their talent is spread out among their lines. And much like Sean Avery, they have their own agitator in Steve Downie, who had three points in their Game 7 clincher. The Caps will have to score some goals in this series.

    Matchup to Watch: Caps PK against Tampa power play, which was very good in the first round. The Caps simply have to do a better job staying out of the box than they did in the Rangers series.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Ovechkin. Four to two.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: St. Louis. He could have a big series.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: Every time Downie is on the ice with him.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: Twice.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: Once, in the NBC game, if the series makes it that far.

    X-Factor: Nicklas Backstrom. He's due.

    Series Prediction: Caps in 6.

     

    Ted Starkey, Washington Times:

    (http://www.washingtontimes.com and @TedStarkey)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: Washington has dominated its regular-season meetings with the Lightning in recent years, going a stellar 19-3-1 against Tampa Bay since December 2007. The midseason addition of Dwayne Roloson from the Islanders helped the Lightning earn two shutout wins against the Caps in the last four meetings (one coming in overtime), as he posted a 1.22 GAA with a .959 save percentage in four games - although the Caps eventually found some success by crashing the net and solved Roloson with two key wins as they eventually passed Tampa Bay in the standings for Washington's fourth straight Southeast Division tittle.

    Matchup to Watch: Roloson vs. Washington's offense: Tampa's hope for an upset of Washington stands in the Lightning net, as the main reason the Lightning were able to earn the two wins they got against the Capitals is thanks to the veteran's two shutouts. As the season series progressed after Roloson joined the team, Washington made more of an effort to crash the net and create traffic in front of the 41-year-old netminder, and eventually, the Caps were able to record two important wins of their own to close out the season series with a 4-1-1 mark.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Ovechkin. The Caps' captain has been absolutely stellar against the Bolts, recording 20 points in 12 games the last two seasons against Tampa Bay -- including six goals.

    In this year's playoffs so far, Washington's superstar has recorded three goals in five games against the Rangers, including his first playoff game-winner since 2009 in Game 5. Stamkos, who was perhaps the NHL's best player through the first half of the season, has cooled considerably after scoring 38 goals through the end of January, having potted just nine since (7 regular season, 2 playoff).

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: Alexander Semin. While Martin St. Louis has been historically a Caps killer since the teams' other playoff meeting in 2003, Semin has been stellar against Tampa Bay as of late, scoring seven goals in just four games vs. the Bolts this year. While St. Louis was rewarded with a Hart Trophy nomination for his performance this year, Semin was sublime against Tampa, as the Lightning gave him the room to skate, and he recorded a pair of hat tricks.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: 9. After taking a slap shot from Matt Gilroy in the helmet during the series-clincher against the Rangers, Green will now be seeing a lot of Tampa Bay agitator Steve Downie this series.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: 6. Although will depend on the number of days in between games in the series, as Boudreau will certainly be looking to draw attention to something

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: 6. Sadly, Hurricanes announcer -- and Harvard alum -- Tripp Tracy isn't doing the series, but Doc Emerick will be sure to call that to attention during the games he announces the series.

    X-Factor: Ovechkin. The Caps' superstar will be called upon to power Washington's offense against Tampa Bay, and while Roloson has been good, the defensive corps for the Lighting is fairly thin. Should Washington be able to break through and put some pucks in the net, this series could be a quick decision for the Capitals.

    Series Prediction: Capitals in 6.

     

    Chris Kerwin, NBC Washington Videographer

    (NBC Washington's Capital Games)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: This will be an exercise in restraint for the Caps. If they can stick to their defense-first system, they will win. If that third forward wants to take chances and pinch in too far, the speed of the Lightning's stars will make them pay. The Caps will also be a physical presence in front of Roloson. If the big bodies can keep their footing in front of the hottest (and oldest) goalie left in the playoffs, they could feast on rebounds kicked out.

    Matchup to Watch: Carlson/Alzner vs Stamkos/St.Louis. If the Caps defense can keep the Lightning's big guns from getting too much freedom, life will be very good. Along those speedy lines, it'll be key for the Caps to not get lazy backchecking. The minute you give those speedsters freedom, they will hurt you.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Ovechkin. The guy looks rested and eager to play. Stamkos admitted after their Game 7 win over Pittsburgh that he wasn't as ready for the postseason as he thought he would be. If the Caps play him physical, he REALLY won't be ready for Round 2.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: St.Louis. Semin will have a few but St.Louis's relentless efforts will be rewarded at some point.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: Every time he's on the ice. Don't see him as ever being hesitant, but definitely more careful not to put himself in tougher spots.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: Twice. He'll get bored of complaining about it after the first game.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: 8. Twice a game.

    X-Factor: Jason Chimera. His gritty style was rewarded with two game-winning goals last series. The Caps marching orders are to harass Roloson as much as possible, and his big body will provide at minimum a nice screen, at maximum a rebounding force for any loose puck Dwayne kicks out.

    Series Prediction: Caps in 5 . If they come out with the energy they had in Game 5 against the Rangers, it only goes 4. 

     

    On Frozen Blog Staff:

    (http://www.onfrozenblog.com/ and @onfrozenblog)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: Experienced and hungry Caps against the upstart newcomer (and maybe just glad to be here) Bolts.

    The Caps bear the look of a team on a postseason mission, and seemingly are built for success in it. Tampa has a couple of holdovers from its 2004 Cup-winning club (Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier) but is likely another year away from prime contention, because of the youth and inexperience of key cogs Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos.

    It's young vs. old in net, too: 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson vs. 23-year-old Michal Neuvirth. And behind the bench there's a big discrepancy in experience as well: Guy Boucher is in his second series in his first NHL postseason, while this series marks Bruce Boudreau's sixth best-of-seven set in his fourth NHL postseason. For the Caps, it's like looking at a reflection of their younger self.

    Matchup to Watch: Tampa Bay's first power play unit versus the Capitals' PKers. The Lightning had the league's sixth-best extra-man unit during the regular season (20.5%) and went white hot with the extra man against Pittsburgh (29% -- third-best in the postseason). The Caps were the league's second-best penalty killing team in the regular season (85.6%), and almost perfect at 95% against the Rangers. But Tampa possesses weapons up front on the power play that the Rangers sorely lacked. Tampa's only real chance to pull off the upset to is draw the Caps into a number of penalty killing situations and to capitalize on a good many of them.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: There's not much playoff history to judge Stamkos by, but since he seemed to leave much of his scoring behind in the regular season, we'll go with an energetic-looking Ovechkin.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: St. Louis may be a Hart finalist, but Alexander Semin is 2-for-4 in games with hat tricks against Tampa this year, and he's 3-for-4 in as far as getting on the scoreboard against them (we'll forget that his two hat tricks didn't come against Dwayne Roloson). The victor in this matchup might determine the series. We'll go with Semin, by a lone goal. In Arnott we trust for a Good Sasha in this series.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: Um, how many shifts will Steve Downie be on the ice? But in all seriousness, Tampa shouldn't pose the same physical challenge that the Rangers did. Having said that, going high on Greener is, frankly, a bit of a league-wide blueprint at this point. But as long as Green is mentally strong enough to keep blocking pucks with his head, Tampa shouldn't get to him.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: The Caps and Bolts have been division foes for better than a decade, and even met in the playoffs way back in 2003. In all that time they've seldom engaged in ESPN-worthy mayhem. Complaining about head shots and buildings and locker rooms will be so Round 1.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: It's the Caps' mission in this series to see to it that Moore is able to return to Harvard Yard in time for the start of summer graduate programs. We'll hear about the Harvard connection on NBC, surely, but Mike Emrick ranks among the most clever and wittiest of big league broadcasters; he won't overplay this angle.

    X-Factor: You have got to think the X-Factors will be the goalies, specifically Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson. He blanked the Caps twice in just an eight-day span in January and is 2-2 against them this season. He has shown he can make some amazing plays -- age-defying ones -- but you gotta think the large number of shots he faced last round will play a factor, the more so for a 41-year-old who played a lot of hockey down the stretch for his club. You also have to believe Neuvirth, who only faced Tampa Bay once this season, will be asking Braden Holtby and Semyon Varlamov for some tips.

    Lastly, this series' schedule gets intriguing next week, with games 3 and 4 being played back to back. Tampa was pushed hard by Pittsburgh through seven games and must defend home ice twice in just 24 hours. Advantage goes to well-rested Caps.

    Series Prediction: Caps in 6.

     

    Samuel Chamberlain, SBNation.com

    (SBNation.com and @SChamberlainNYU)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: At first blush, the relatively high-scoring, free-wheeling style of Tampa would seem to play right into the hands of the Capitals. However, Tampa Bay's comeback from a 3-1 deficit against Pittsburgh, capped by a 1-0 Game 7 win on Pittsburgh's pond Wednesday night, proved that the Lightning have something more than just a great top line. They have a fierce competitive spirit, and in Dwayne Roloson, they have a proven playoff goalie, one who forgot about the brutally soft overtime goal he gave up in Game 4 against Pittsburgh to turn aside 94 of the last 98 shots he faced from the Penguins.

    Make no mistake, this will likely end up being a much tougher test for the Capitals than the Rangers series was, and if Tampa Bay manages to steal one of the first two games in D.C., I would be really worried if I was a Caps fan.

    Matchup to Watch: First line vs. First Line. Ovechkin-Backstrom-Laich/Knuble vs. Stamkos-Lecavalier-St. Louis. A line containing the 2008 and 2009 Hart Trophy winner (Ovechkin) vs. one containing the 2004 Hart winner, who is also a finalist this year (St. Louis). Whichever line produces more points will be very likely be on the team that wins the series.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Ovechkin.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: St. Louis.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: As often as Steve Downie is on the ice in Game 1.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: I'll say once for now. Bruce isn't one to harp on issues unless they come up again.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: I didn't hear Moore's Harvard ties mentioned a whole lot during the Penguins series. However, Mike Emrick likes to throw stuff like that out there during his broadcasts, so I think it'll get a mention once. (Full disclosure: I watched Moore and his brothers Mark and Steve play a lot at Harvard and am rooting for him to do well.)

    X-Factor: Whether Roloson carries over his good form from the last three games of the Pittsburgh series, or returns to his somewhat less impressive form of this regular season.

    Series Prediction: Caps in 7.

     

    Angie Lewis, TheHockeyWriters.com

    (TheHockeyWriters.com and @LadyHatTrick)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: The Capitals are coming off of about a week of rest from playoff hockey while the Lightning just completed their first round series two days before their next series was due to begin.

    That shouldn’t stop either team from coming out their hardest though Friday evening for Game 1. A second-round playoff battle against two Southeast Division rivals makes for a great and competitive series.

    Both teams have the ability to score goals at will and if needed, and both have pretty good goaltending. Keys for Washington in this series include: containing key players like Stamkos and St. Louis, setting the tone early and getting an early start with shots, goaltending remaining strong, sticking to the game plan, and making sure their special teams stay sharp.

    Matchup to Watch: Nicklas Backstrom and Steven Stamkos. It will be a delight for many who don’t regularly follow these two teams play to watch these two young centers perform in this series.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Stamkos.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: Semin.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: The Lightning, on average, are not a very physical team. That being said, every time the Caps and Lightning get together, the Lightning have, at times, outhit the Capitals. Nonetheless, I doubt Tampa will “target” Mike Green, per se. But as all hockey players do, when the moment comes to take advantage of a hit, it’ll happen. Just not overtly (like last series).

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: Unless Boudreau has a reason for saying something, he’ll leave the issue out on the ice. He’ll complain though if he wants to rile up the other side. It’s worked when he complained about the police in Montreal, Steve Downie’s “diving,” and Madison Square Garden and the Rangers’ fans’ lack of volume. So if the series needs a little added spice, he’ll say something. But as I said before, I don’t think the Lightning will make an overt effort to be that physical.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: If it’s Jack Edwards covering a game, it would be a million. Otherwise, who says I was listening?

    X-Factor: The goaltenders: We know that both teams have the ability to score, and that there are some key guys on defense on both sides who can help stop those scorers. But with two teams with a strong offensive skill set, the goalies will have to be on top of their game and that will decide who wins and who loses.

    For the Capitals it will be Michal Neuvirth. For the interest of playing devil’s advocate, in my preview I said whomever will be in net for Washington, but let’s be real: Michal Neuvirth is on a roll and it would be unfair to change things. Having said that, Neuvirth has to remain on his game.

    Dwayne Roloson on Tampa Bay’s side will have to use his veteran presence to help propel the Lightning through this series. He also will have to stand strong as the Lightning’s defense is still unproven, aside from Eric Brewer who had 27 blocked shots last series. Nonetheless, it will be up to Roloson to remain the rock behind the Lightning’s offense, and for him to also keep his composure. The Caps have been able to get under Roloson’s skin towards the end of the regular season series, and it cost the Lightning some games. But I’m sure he knows as well as anyone what it takes to advance.

    Series Prediction: Caps in 6. Like the last series, every game will be a battle; that’s just how the Capitals play. It will be significantly more difficult against the Lightning, as they are more multi-dimensional than the New York Rangers were. But Washington just seems like the best team in the East, and with the rest the players had, they have the ability to put their all into doing whatever it takes to play the Lightning.

     

    Adam Vingan, Kings of Leonsis and SB Nation:

    (http://kingsofleonsis.com/ and @Adam_KOL)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: Finally, the chance to create a real rivalry within the Southeast Division. The Caps and Lightning last met in the 2002-03 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, when a Washington team led by Jaromir Jagr blew a 2-0 series lead and lost in six games. Time flies.

    Matchup to Watch: Michal Neuvirth v. Dwayne Roloson. Roloson is 18 years Neuvirth's elder and has had a career resurgence since coming to Tampa Bay from the New York Islanders on January 1. Both men have proven that they can steal a series.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: Steven Stamkos has been itching for a chance to break out and I think he will in this series. I said in the last prediction that Alex Ovechkin would score five goals against the Rangers and he only scored three. Look for Stamkos to set up shop on the power play and score four goals. Ovechkin will have only two.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: Martin St. Louis is a former Hart Trophy winner and a Hart Trophy candidate this season. He led the Lighting with for goals in their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but look for him to cool off. Alexander Semin answered the call in Round 1 and scored three big goals. I say that Semin scores four in the series, while St. Louis will score only two.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: Ask Steve Downie.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: None. He has more important things to worry about.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: Who?

    X-Factor: Dwayne Roloson. He shut out the Caps twice in eight days in January, but gave up seven goals in the last two meetings against the Caps this season. He can play poorly just as easily as he can steal a game. Roloson has also never lost an elimination game in his career. Like they did with Henrik Lundqvist, the Caps must get to Roloson early and crash the net.

    Series Prediction: Caps in 6.

     

    Ryan O'Halloran, CSNWashington.com

    (CSNWashington.com and @ryanohalloran)

    Overall Thoughts on the Series: There won’t be any secrets, the teams having already played each other six times. Intra-division playoff series are usually more intense and evenly matched because the teams know each other so well. Just look at Montreal-Boston going to overtime in Game 7 or Los Angeles-San Jose playing a wild series.

    Matchup to Watch: Ignoring the obvious Ovechkin-Stamkos matchup, I’ll go with the special teams. Tampa Bay was sixth on the power play in the regular season and scored a league-high eight power play goals in the first round. The Capitals’ penalty kill was terrific against the Rangers (New York was 5-of-20). The Lightning pounce on creating power-play opportunities, so it’s critical for the Capitals to stay out of the box.

    Who will score more goals: Ovechkin or Stamkos?: I’ll go with Ovechkin because Stamkos is still a little new at this playoff stuff and he wasn’t very productive during the first round. Ovechkin looked like he hit another gear against the Rangers in Game 5 and he has long had success against the Lightning.

    Who will score more goals: Semin or St. Louis?: St. Louis. For all we know, Semin blew his wad goal-wise in the first round, even though he did have two hat tricks against the Lightning during the regular season. But this isn’t St. Louis’ first postseason rodeo and he gets better as his teams get deeper into the playoffs.

    Number of times Mike Green will be targeted with a head shot: 2.

    Number of times Bruce Boudreau will complain about head shots: 22.

    Number of times TV announcers will mention during games that Dominic Moore went to Harvard: 3 per game.

    X-Factor: Michal Neuvirth. Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson, 41, has received much attention this week after rallying past Pittsburgh in seven games. But Neuvirth was rock solid in a five-game win over the Rangers.

    Series Prediction: Capitals in 6.