Thursday, March 1, 2007

Caps/Lightning Preview

Tampa Bay Lightning (36-25-4, 76 points)
Washington Capitals (24-29-11, 59 points)

Television: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: Sportstalk 980-AM
Gametime: 7:00 PM

The newest member of the Washington Capitals roster arrived early this morning and practiced with the team at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Jiri Novotny, who has been sidelined recently with a high ankle sprain, announced after practice that he is ready to play and will make his debut tonight as the Caps welcome their divisional foe the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Verizon Center.

Where he will play is anyone's guess. In practice he centered a line that included Brooks Laich and his fellow countryman from the Czech Republic, Tomas Fleichmann. But that plan could change many times before and after the puck drops tonight, as the trade of the team's number one center, Danius Zubrus, has shuffled all the lines around.

Alex Ovechkin will be looking to prove that following Tuesday night's game in which he had a season high 4 points, he has put his slump behind him. It couldn't come at a better time for the team that will need him to step up his game after losing two of their better scores, in Zubrus and Zednik, at the trade deadline.

Tonight's game marks the start of a six game road streak for the Lightning. They are coming off of a 1-1-1 homestand in which they lost their last game in overtime to the Dallas Stars. Still, they post one of the best records in the NHL over the last 23 games with a mark of 17-4-2. And they've won 4 out of 5 games against the Caps this season.

Washington will need to have a repeat performance of their offense outburst against the Panthers Tuesday night if they want to be able to keep up with this high powered team. Vincent Lecavalier leads the league in goals with 41, with his teammate Martin St. Louis not too far behind with 38.

Goaltender Brent Johnson will have to be on top of his game if the Caps will have any chance in this one.

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