NHL Eastern Conference final preview

Rex Christensen
May 13, 2018

Vegas, just like the Lightning, are totally healthy and firing on all cylinders heading into the conference finals. The Washington Capitals have allowed three or less goals in each of their last 11 games.

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach talks to media after 4-2 loss to Washington Capitals. As the best Eastern Conference team throughout the season, Tampa Bay is a pretty sizable favorite to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2015.

Capitals: D John Carlson drew an assists on the first goal, tying the franchise mark for playoff points by a defenseman with 12.

Braden Holtby has been exceptional sine reclaiming his starting role back in the first round.

Trotz typically wants players who are returning from injury to get in a practice or two before playing in a game. Friday night, you couldn't tell which team was which. All three of those things are a real challenge with a beat-up hand.

It was Ovechkin's ninth goal of the postseason and fourth on the power play. Evgeny Kuznetsov also has 14 points. The defensemen are okay, but not stellar, and goaltending has been an issue.

The Lightning really got balanced scoring throughout the series. The fact that these two teams are squaring off for a Cup finals berth really speaks to the parity in today's National Hockey League, and how the 2017-18 season has been defined by underdogs eclipsing expectations, time and time again. Tampa Bay won both previous meetings, including a sweep in the Eastern Conference semifinals seven years ago.

Why The Lightning Win If it wasn't for a lull in the back half of the season, Tampa Bay, who were long seen as the Presidents' Trophy frontrunners, probably could have sealed the deal and taken the prize as the regular season's top team.

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The Capitals' win was particularly notable because they have been dealing with adversity in these playoffs and have managed to persevere. Well, very different situations in my opinion as the Lightning at better situated with the cap as well as their farm system is lights out right now - kudos to their scouting team!

The second round of the playoffs has come and gone, and what a round it was. The bigger prize is still out there, but that was a seriously huge hurdle the Capitals made it over. That's how deep the attack is in Tampa Bay. The obvious candidate for this year would be the Vegas Golden Knights for obvious reasons, but the Capitals hold their own case. They were able to slow down a team that looked like they were going to score goals in bunches. How was it not 8-2?' " Cooper said Saturday.

Ovechkin made it 2-0 a mere 5 seconds after the Lightning thought they had tied it in the closing seconds of the opening period. That could be a reflection of teams having greater trust in young players arriving from junior hockey or college, or the need to stock rosters with cheap talent as a greater percentage of the salary cap is devoted to the elite.

Vasilevskiy is still one of the best goaltenders in the game, but he has simply been bad in Game 1 of the last two rounds of the playoffs. Their puck possession metrics were exceptional during the regular season and continue to be in the playoffs. "Credit them, they broke the puck out really well against us and took away a lot of our speed in the neutral zone, but we've got to find a way to get to our strength a little more". The Jets on the other hand are converting on 25% of their power plays. Their chances were few and far between.

Game 2 is Sunday night at Amalie Arena, where Tampa Bay also lost Game 1 in the second round against Boston.

"That gave us a real boost. gave us some breathing room", Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. He wired home a one-timer off a cross-ice Kucherov feed at 3:45. Washington is up over 2.00.

It happened again in the opener against the Capitals. Check out our NHL Public Betting Page for the latest info. I'm not trying to take anything from Washington.

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