For the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era, the Washington Capitals will appear in an Eastern Conference Final game. The Capitals defeated the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight in Game 1 at Amalie Arena.
As of now Nicklas Backstrom is a game-time decision, and his absence would be a big hole in the lineup considering the strength Tampa has at center.
The Lightning dispatched the Boston Bruins in a mere five games after doing the same to the New Jersey Devils in the first round. This has allowed the team to remain well rested thus far, and it will be interesting to the see the impact it has in Game 1.
The Bruins steamrolled the Lightning by a score of 6-2 in Game 1 of the semis, and the extended time off is something that Steven Stamkos felt was a factor. From that point on Tampa was in control winning four games in a row.
Tampa is in its third conference final in the last four years, and they will look to return to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in the same four-year span. They have the ability to lean on not only their star players, but draw experience from players who are very familiar with this Caps squad.
These players include Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Chris Kunitz, Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller and Anton Stralman and each has been on the winning side against the Caps multiple times.
The game is set to get underway at 8:00 p.m. and will air on NBCSN.
For more information on the Lightning, you can check out Raw Charge.
For more information on the Capitals, you can check out Japers Rink.