Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Downie, Alzner now fierce rivals

Categories: Tampa Bay Lightning, WSH vs. TAM, Washington Capitals

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Tampa Bay's Steve Downie had an eventful first playoff series with the Lightning, scoring and getting a suspension. (Chris O'Meara/Associated Press) Tampa Bay's Steve Downie had an eventful first playoff series with the Lightning, scoring and getting a suspension. (Chris O'Meara/Associated Press)

Guy Boucher did not back off his comparison of his Tampa Bay Lightning against the Washington Capitals to David vs. Goliath.

And while Bruce Boudreau wasn't buying it, Tampa Bay's coach reiterated that the onus is on the Capitals this series.

"I know that if they lose this for them it's a huge failure, so there's a lot of pressure," Boucher said. "But at the same time comes a lot of energy with pressure so we're aware that they're gonna charge it up."

Not surprisingly the Capitals don't see it that way, with their coach saying maybe a half-inch separated David and Goliath this time.

Flipping the switch

The Lightning didn't arrive in Washington until very early Thursday morning following their Game 7 victory in Pittsburgh. They have rhythm going after three straight wins, but Boucher admitted his team was tired and that it's hard to flip the switch to the Capitals.

"It's not easy, and it's our job to reload and get ready for this one," Boucher said.

Because of that, a quick start is particularly important for Tampa Bay, as the Capitals have had five days off and could be rusty.

Same lineup for Capitals

Almost nothing has changed for the Capitals during their full week off from game action - including their lineup. Expect right wing Mike Knuble and defenceman Dennis Wideman to miss at least Game 1 (and likely more) and Brooks Laich to at least start on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin's shooting range

Ovechkin loves to shoot - he has led the league in shots each season he has been in the NHL. Yet in the first round against the Rangers, the Capitals superstar got only 17 pucks on net. He made those attempts count with three goals, but everyone knows for Washington to have success Ovechkin needs to let it fly.

Alzner and Downie go way back

Asked where Tampa Bay agitator Steve Downie ranked on a "1-to-10 "Sean Avery" scale, Washington defenseman Karl Alzner said he was an 8, 9 or 10. But he didn't want to say too many bad things about Downie, because they're friends going back to world juniors when they were teammates. They're not the best of friends, but Alzner said they talk on the ice and keep in touch a bit. That takes a hiatus starting Friday because, "there's no friends when you're out there," Alzner said.

Stamkos a deer in headlights?

Boucher on Steven Stamkos in the first round: "I think the first round he was like all of the new guys; half our team hadn't played playoffs, and he was like everybody else - he was like a deer in the headlights, I think, for the first few games.

"I was really impressed by him learning fast. I'd say mid-series then you start seeing the real Stamkos and he figured out what to do."

Stephen Whyno covers the Capitals for The Washington Times