Tampa Bay Lightning Pregame: S’all Downhill From Here

Sorry, Puck Buddys fans. The dudes skipped town last night and didn’t even leave a phone number. They could be in Marrakesh raising an army horde of bonsai kittens or playing Stratego with Sherpas in Tibet. We. Just. Do. Not. Know.

So yeah, the Capitals won that bout with the Penguins, but was that not one of the weirdest meetings between the two you’ve ever seen? Neither team seemed too interested in the whole “shooting” mechanic of hockey, and Matt Cooke didn’t even curl his evil mustache or malevolently pet his shaved cat once. With that humble 1-0 win, the first half of the Capitals’ season ended. It was a mess of a type we have not seen since Glen Hanlon’s reign.

But there are 41 pristine games ahead of us, starting with… [checks schedule] aw dammit! Tampa Bay Lightning woeugfbwieugwe

Tampa Bay Lightning Fun Facts

  • We expected the Bolts to give the Caps a little chase for the SE lead. Instead, the Bolts are in 4th place– 8 points behind the also-struggling-but-not-nearly-so-bad Capitals. They’re atrocious on the road with a 6-15-3 record.
  • Victor Hedman is the Dave Steckel of the Tampa Bay Lightning. His boarding hit on Sidney Crosby on January somethingth of 2011 ended Crosby’s season and beyond. Hedman is now nursing a concussion that he caused by boarding himself. It’s like raaaaaain on your wedding day.
  • Tampa’s best player by a mile is still Steven Stamkos, who is rocking a league-best 29 goals. He’s head and shoulders above the rest of his team.
  • Martin St. Louis is my giant of Lannister. 10 goals and 23 assists for a guy we make fun of a lot, but who is actually a terrific hockey player that we wish were wearing Caps red.
  • But he’s not, so he’s short and weird.
  • We don’t even have grudging respect for Steve Downie, whose continued employment in the NHL is embarrassing.
  • Friday night will be just the Capitals’ second meeting with this Southeast Division rival. The first match was in early October, a shootout win. Alan May called the Caps “thick and proud” that night. What an odd fellow he is.
  • Starting on Friday, the Caps and Bolts will meet 4 more times this season, 3 times in Tampa Bay. Have you ever been to Tampa? It’s like taking a shower in reverse. You come in clean, and then within 5 minutes you smell like you’ve been playing handball in a sauna.

Here’s the best part: You remember Dwayne “The Stain” Roloson? He was the old guy in the cage who stopped 123 of 133 shots (a modest .925 save percentage) to end the Caps’ post-season campaign. At the age of 42, Rolo appears to have hit the wall. In 21 games, he’s rocking an .880 Sv% and a GAA of 3.76. He is killing this team. Please please please let him be in net on Friday.

Evil coach Guy Boucher is not happy with his team’s work ethic of late. Check out what he told the Tampa Bay Times:

It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous. Until you say that you’re an alcoholic you can’t make the steps. Players maybe felt a sense of entitlement, so it’s good it’s internalized. Before they were being told but it wasn’t internalized. Now they realize where they are.

Weird. Contrast/compare with this infamous Bruce Boudreau’s quote, spoken about a similarly sucky squad:

If I have to teach them how to be tough … well then I don’t know how to do that.

Man, now I’m all sad again.

Okay, all better.

There are a couple good Lightning peeps on the Twitters that we got to know during the playoffs. If you’re looking for their side of the story, follow these guys:

The puck drops at 7 PM on CSN+. Yeah: Plus. Apparently the four remaining Wizards fans who miraculously survived the mass suicide called dibs on CSN proper.

The work week is over. Kick off your shoes, crack open a tallboy, and then rove through the city like a pack of wild dogs scavenging for a TV that actually gets CSN+.

Crash the net.