Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Washington celebration gives Caps pause

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

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Jason Chimera of Washington, right, was among those surprised to learn about the major news coming from the White House late Sunday. (NIck Wass/Associated Press) Jason Chimera of Washington, right, was among those surprised to learn about the major news coming from the White House late Sunday. (NIck Wass/Associated Press)

Forgetting about hockey for a moment

When the news broke Sunday night that September 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden had been killed, the Lightning and Capitals were just getting done with Game 2, won in overtime by Tampa Bay's Vinny Lecavalier. Down the street from Verizon Center thousands gathered at the White House to celebrate while Capitals players went home to discover the news.

While Bruce Boudreau was set to be on one of the planes that went into the World Trade Center, the coach said: "I'm not thinking about that right now. I'll let the rest of the world think about it."

Jason Chimera, however, said his world stopped for at least a short time.

"You kinda forget about the game for a bit. It's pretty drastic news, that's for sure," Chimera said. "I remember [9/11] vividly. I was in Canada at the time but you kinda were just in shock and awe at what happened. Your hearts went out to the families and kinda hopefully that brings a little bit of peace to those people."

Rest for the victorious

Guy Boucher had planned to give his team a day off from practice Monday regardless of Game 2's outcome.

"We are going to need a lot of energy, a lot of energy that we know the other team has,'' he said. "We need rest. Rest is a weapon."

So Tampa Bay's coach said he didn't want to see his players until Tuesday, when they're set to gather for a team meeting. No practices the rest of the way, Boucher said, as he wants the Lightning to concentrate on game action.

Vinny comes up big

In one of the biggest spots this season for the Lightning, their captain cashed in on his opportunities. Lecavalier took just three shots Sunday night but produced two goals - one on the power play to open the scoring and one on an odd-man rush to close out the game.

Boucher wasn't surprised at the big games turned in by Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis.

"They're character guys," Boucher said. "Our top guys are character guys, and I have a lot of respect for them."

Change between pipes?

Michal Neuvirth's stats are impeccable - a .928 save percentage and 1.77 goals-against average - and he really couldn't be blamed for any goal surrendered Sunday night.

Yet there are whispers that Semyon Varlamov could get the start in Game 3 Tuesday night at Tampa Bay. It would likely be change for the sake of change and could be a mistake of epic proportions for Boudreau. Neuvirth has been the one constant during the Capitals' first seven games, and Varlamov hasn't played since April 6.

Killing instinct

Boucher said after Game 1 he'd be "shocked" if the Capitals didn't score on the power play in the second matchup in Washington. They didn't, and now the Lightning have killed off 45 of 46 penalties in these playoffs. The coach credited Dwayne Roloson and luck for Sunday night's success but again thinks the Capitals will get it together.

"We're expecting the next game that they're gonna give us their best, obviously on the power play," he said.

Turning the tables

Down  2-0 in games, the Capitals are under pressure. There's no doubt about that. But players are confident that they can use the adversity they've gone through this season (including an eight-game skid) to bounce back. And some are even deflecting the pressure onto the Lightning.

"It's a little bit of pressure on them," Washington defenceman Karl Alzner said. "I'm sure they want to go close this thing as soon as they possibly can so we have to get them thinking too far ahead and maybe catch them sleeping."

Stephen Whyno covers the Capitals for The Washington Times.