Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Lightning thinking of ailing coach Fleming

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

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Washington coach Bruce Boudreau doesn't blame goalie Michael Neuvirth for the fact the Capitals have lost the first two games to Tampa Bay in their Eastern Conference semifinal. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press) Washington coach Bruce Boudreau doesn't blame goalie Michael Neuvirth for the fact the Capitals have lost the first two games to Tampa Bay in their Eastern Conference semifinal. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

Tampa Bay is up 2-0 on the Capitals and NHL teams that go up three games to none after winning the first two on the road are 34-1 all-time.

But the Lightning aren't blind - they see that Washington is close to breaking through and that several bounces have contributed to this series lead. Coach Guy Boucher said being up 2-0 is an "illusion."

"We've done nothing yet," veteran forward Marty St. Louis said. "We might be 2-0 in the series, but I don't think it's been played like that. I don't think we feel like that."

No change in net for Capitals

Michal Neuvirth continues to be the man for Washington, as coach Bruce Boudreau said he hadn't contemplated making a goaltending change to Semyon Varlamov for Tuesday night's Game 3 at St. Pete Times Forum.

"We're very comfortable with him," Boudreau said. "You look at the goals that have been scored - there's not much he can do about them."

It's the right move. Neuvirth (1.77 goals-against average and .928 save percentage) hasn't allowed a soft goal all playoffs and can't be blamed for doing much wrong. Varlamov on the other hand hasn't played since April 6.

Gagne, Kubina out

Boucher didn't mince words about injuries like so many coaches do come playoff time. He ruled Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina out for Games 3 and 4 - and delivered the quote of the series.

"They're day-to-day, except for today and tomorrow," he said, drawing laughs.

Randy Jones and Blair Jones, respectively, will be in the lineup again in their places. Randy Jones had the superb outlet pass that set up Tampa Bay's game-winner Sunday night in overtime.

First goal sets the tone

The Capitals harped on it Tuesday following their morning skate about how important a quick start is in Game 3 - especially given the back-to-back games and more importantly because of how Tampa Bay plays when it's up.

"We don't want them sitting back working their trap game," Capitals right wing Eric Fehr said. "That's when they're at their best when they have a lead and we're gonna try to make sure that doesn't happen."

In the home locker room, St. Louis and Steven Stamkos said they expect the best from the Capitals in the early going.

"We've gotta come out hard. We know they will," St. Louis said.

Rest does Lightning bodies good

The Lightning had a full day off Monday as Boucher has made rest a priority over practice. It seems to be working pretty well. Stamkos' day away from the rink was spent doing ... absolutely nothing.

"It's tough to not doing anything here in Tampa with this weather, but for the most part it's just a relaxed day, you get to sleep in for the first time in a while and get the body re-energized," the young superstar said.

Fleming having surgery

Tampa Bay assistant coach Wayne Fleming, who is battling a brain tumor, is having his second surgery in a month Tuesday and is in everyone's thoughts at the arena. Boucher said he and his players talked about it

"It's obviously a very, very serious operation. To be honest with you, I can't wait to see how it went. It's a very tough day for him, for his family and for our team," Boucher said. "We care about the man. Hockey's way behind all that."

On the road again

The Capitals like playing in front of their fans at Verizon Center, but in this situation they certainly don't mind the road right now. Karl Alzner talked about playing to quiet the Tampa Bay crowd, instead of feeling the pressure to succeed in Washington.

"It might be nice for us right now just to get away as a team," forward Matt Bradley said. "We had a good dinner last night together and we're ready to go."

Steve Whyno covers the Capitals for The Washington Times.