Hockey Night in Canada's Harry
This is a tough one.
Tampa has been the better team recently,
but Washington's got (Peter) Bondra and (Jaromir) Jagr
and if they ever decide it's important to play I don't
know if Tampa can handle them.
I know Tampa is the Cinderella team of the Eastern
Conference, but think Washington is going to beat them
in a long series.
Prediction: Washington wins series in seven
Eastern Conference picks | Kelly
Hrudey's Western Conference picks
Lightning started strong, finished strong and
were mediocre in between. After surprising everyone
with a 7-1-2 start in October, the Lightning were
decidedly below average until mid-February, when
they were 22-21-9-5. But they turned it on down
the stretch, taking the Southeast Division title,
and the home ice advantage, away from the Capitals.
seems that as goalie Nikolai Khabibulin goes,
so go the Lightning. Khabibulin struggled mightily
early in 2003 -- at one point going 10 starts
without a win. But then he turned it around and
took Player of the Month honours for March thanks
to a 15-game unbeaten string.
Lecavalier finally played up to the promise that
came with his first overall selection in the 1998
draft. Lecavalier led the team in scoring with
33 goals and 44 assists in 79 games. Vaclav Prospal
and Martin St. Louis have also had breakout seasons.
playoffs will be unfamiliar territory for the
Lightning, who have only one post-season appearance
in their 10 year history.
the presence of stars like Jaromir Jagr, Peter
Bondra, Sergei Gonchar and Olaf Kolzig, the Capitals
couldn't even beat Tampa Bay for the Southeast
to meet expectations has been an annual rite in
Washington recently. The team failed to make the
playoffs last year, despite the addition of Jagr,
and exited early the previous two years.
Capitals got out of the gate slowly, going 10-13-2
over their first 25 games. Washington played well
down the stretch, going 6-3-0-1 in their last
10 games, but couldn't catch the hotter Lightning.
opening the playoffs on the road, the Capitals
will have an obvious edge over the young Lightning
in playoff experience. But the Caps will need
Jagr to redeem himself after another subpar season.
By most standards, Jagr's 36 goals and 77 points
would constitute a strong campaign. But it's well
below the standards he established for himself
Washington won the season series 3-2
The season series was close with neither team showing
any clear advantage over the other. The Capitals took
the first two games by a goal. Both teams managed to
win games on their opponent's ice. The Lightning won
the last meeting on Feb. 17.
Jaromir Jagr was sharp against the Lightning, scoring
four goals, three assists and was a +5. Dan Boyle was
the Lightning's best player in the season series, with
three points and a +3 rating.
» (6) Minnesota
vs (7) Anaheim
Ottawa vs (2) New Jersey
react after winning their third Stanley Cup in the last decade.