It's the day before Christmas and all through the house here in Bristow not a creature is stirring except for the three of us, my father-in-law and our three Tibetan Terriers. As I contemplate the past years blessings and accomplishments I reflect on a very hectic year of lots of ups and downs. Of course even with a few disappointments, its been a good year when you can afford luxuries like Caps Season Tickets - we live a pretty blessed life and have a lot to be thankful for seemingly every holiday season.
Looking ahead to Thursday's Caps vs. Lightning game here's where things stand: the Caps enter the game with 30 points, 92 GF and 110 GA; the Lightning aren't far ahead with 33 points, 106 GF and 118 GA. The Lightning are coming off a 4-1 home loss to Carolina and are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games. The Caps are coming off a heartbreaking 3-2 OT loss on Long Island with the Islanders and are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. For the Caps to win, they have to stop the Bolts' 4 leading scorers, particularly the dynamic duo of Lecavalier and St. Louis. Center Vincent Lecavalier has a league leading 53 points (23 goals and 30 assists). His high flying, fast skating linemate, Right Wing Martin St. Louis has an impressive 41 points (13 goals and 28 assists). Center Vaclav Prospal has 15 goals and 18 assists; while Center Brad Richards also has 33 points with 11 goals and 22 assists.
Of the Caps only superstar Alex Ovechkin has more than 10 goals with a league third twenty five (25). In total AO has 41 points - 25 goals and 16 assists. For once, this might not be a bad thing, since on the Tampa Bay side of the ice over 58% of their goals have been scored by 4 players - conventional wisdom would say shut those four players down and the game is yours, while since the coaching change the Caps have possessed a very balanced offense. This would seem to be especially true when almost 74% of the Caps' offensive production is spread fairly evenly around the team. Interestingly, the Caps have one of the worst home records in the league thus far this season; while the Lightning have the worst road record. So far the season series between the two rivals is tied at 2-2. The Caps won their last meeting with the Bolts, on December 15th, 3-2 in regulation at Saint Pete Times Forum. In that game, the Lightning were able to hold Ovechkin scoreless, while Lecavalier scored a goal and an assist. One of the keys to the Caps last victory over the Lightning: Martin St. Louis was, like AO, blanked. Ironically, the star of the last meeting was injured Capitals defenseman, Brian Pothier and goalie Brent Johnson stopped 23 of 25 shots for the win. The main other key to the Caps two prior regular season wins against the Lightning, this year, seem to be coming out strong and getting at least as many good shots on goal as they gave up. In that regard, after a three day Christmas break, both teams should be fresh and rested.
The Caps have four more games to the midpoint of the season and even if they win all four they will be one point off last years record. The difference will be if they do that they will be coming off a December where they would have gone 8-5 and will be resurgent and confident. Further if things keep up the way they are going in the Eastern Conference this year it may only take 88 or fewer points to make the playoffs, but you can't count on that happening. Right now the Caps have 44 games left to make up the eight (8) points they are out of the final two playoff points in the Conference. LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!! and Merry Christmas.