Tampa In Familiar Territory

The Tampa Bay Lightning are entering familiar territory as the second round of the playoffs is set to begin.

When the puck drops in Washington when the Caps take on the Bolts, Tampa will be playing another club in the second round who has had trouble winning playoff series.

Two of the leagues top stars clash in the Bolts/Caps series. Image via BleacherReport.com

When the Tampa Bay Lighting last visited the post-season, they won the Stanley Cup. But the story of their cup run was facing off against the Montreal Canadiens in the second round. A team who had troubles closing out series in the past. Missing the playoffs the previous year, then losing out in the second round in 2002.

The Capitals, are very similar to the Bolts past playoff opponents. A team that is notorious for having trouble closing out a playoff series.

Last season, the first placed Washington Capitals were stunned in the first round  by Jaroslav Halak in the Montreal Canadiens. The year before, they dropped out in the second round to Pittsburgh in seven games. In 2008, they were defeated in the first round by the Philadelphia Flyers.

A team that has struggled mightily to close out playoff series, did manage to win the first round series in five games against the New York Rangers this season, yet they face an opponent in Tampa who battled hard in the series against the Penguins and winning their last three games in dramatic fashion.

The story of this round will revolve around the two netminders, Neuvirth and Roloson.

Michal Neuvirth, 23, was dominant in the first round, going 4-1-0 with a 1.38 goals against average and a stellar .946 save percentage.  His play superb, and it was very reminiscent of Semyon Varlamov’s performance in a seven game series win against none other than who they defeated this year, the New York Rangers.

The next series, he flopped it a bit and lost it to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Will the youngster Neuvirth share the same fate or will he overcome the Bolts offense and out-star Tampa’s twineminder?

Dwayne Roloson, 41,  managed to make history, in his come back against the Penguins. Winning the last three games improved Roloson’s record to 6-0 in elimination games. Never losing one, a phenomenal number. Becoming only the second goaltender in NHL history to hold such a number.

Helping back stop the Bolts to a massive come back and holding onto a 1.77GAA and an incredible .949 SV%.

His save percentage is tops in the NHL and his goals against is second best to his opponent, Neuvirth.

We all know both of these have firepower, but the real test will be in between the pipes. Which goaltender will stand up and win the series?

I have Tampa winning this series. I think it could very well go seven games, but expect the old timer to be big in the net for Tampa and if Stamkos and Lecavalier can chip in even more on the offensive side of the game, along with the grinders like Dominic Moore and Sean Bergenheim, the Bolts could push the Capitals against the wall.

 

I invite you to follow me on twitter @RandallRitchey and friend TMMOTS on Facebook.

Topics: Alex Ovechkin, Dominic Moore, Dwayne Roloson, Jaroslav Halak, Michal Neuvirth, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sean Bergenheim, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vincent Lecavalier, Washington Capitals

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