Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Caps not giving up, Lightning not letting up

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

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Tampa coach Guy Boucher wants his team to pretend it's even with Washington, and not enjoying a three games to none lead. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press) Tampa coach Guy Boucher wants his team to pretend it's even with Washington, and not enjoying a three games to none lead. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)
Stephen Whyno, Washington Times

Guy Boucher's underdog mentality has served the Lightning well so far in these playoffs, as he called his team "David" to the Capitals' "Goliath" and sounded surprised every time Tampa Bay won a game. Even up three games to none with the chance to sweep Washington out of the playoffs on Wednesday night, the attitude hasn't changed.

"The illusion is that it's 3-0. Tonight it's 0-0," Boucher said. "Everybody's ready for the toughest game of the series. This is a proud team with individuals that still wanna win the series and so we shouldn't take that team lightly."

Viktor Hedman said it's up to the younger players to listen to the veterans and "stay even-keel" despite the big series advantage.

Boudreau bristles at job question

Starting in December when the Capitals lost eight in a row, coach Bruce Boudreau has fielded questions about losing his job. A reporter from Toronto asked Wednesday morning, "Do you worry that maybe your job's on the line?"

"Listen, you guys have been asking me that all year," Boudreau said. "Is your job on the line? Well, then, I don't wanna answer that."

He then muttered under his breath, "Stupid question, stupid."

It may not be as stupid if Washington loses Game 4. But that remains to be seen.

Right back at it

Up 3-0 in the series, it seems like the Lightning have the advantage of Game 4 starting less than 24 hours after Game 3 ended. Tampa Bay, which was expected to be the tired team, has instead fed off the rhythm of the games.

"There's so much hockey for us that you don't really have a whole lot of time to do anything else," defenceman Eric Brewer said.

Mike Knuble said it might easier for the Capitals if they had a day to regroup

"It's too bad we're playing [Wednesday]," he said. "But what are you going to say about it?"

Changes coming for Lightning?

Boucher admitted that he might make some personnel changes for Game 4. Of course, it's playoff time and he wouldn't say what those would be, other than it would be a decision made after warm-ups.

Tampa Bay's coach did confirm that neither Pavel Kubina nor Simon Gagne will return to his lineup. Both are still out with undisclosed injuries.

Green's status unclear

It would be surprising if Mike Green played in Game 4, though Boudreau wouldn't
let on about the all-star defenceman's status. Green was seen limping heavily at St. Pete Times Forum Wednesday morning.

"I'm not gonna talk too much about injuries today," Boudreau said. "We'll see who's out there tonight."

Sean Collins would step in if Green can't play; Collins wouldn't say if he was playing.

Similarly, Boudreau would not announce his starting goaltender, though indications were that it would again be Michal Neuvirth and not Semyon Varlamov. Asked if he considered a switch to Varlamov, Boudreau said, "No." When asked if Neuvirth would start, he said, "Maybe."

A special team?

Karl Alzner and the Capitals don't want to think about history. All time in the NHL, 162 teams have fallen behind 3-0 in a playoff series, and just three have come back. But he said there's belief in the room that they can do the almost impossible.

"It takes a special team to do that, and I think we have a special team," Alzner said. "There's no doubt in my mind that we can do it."

Added Boudreau: "The bottom line is that you just can't think that it's over. When you think that, then you're done. But we believe that we're good enough to win. So we're gonna go out there, and we're gonna give it everything we've got tonight."

Stephen Whyno covers the Capitals for The Washington Times.