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Posted at 1:23 PM ET, 01/ 4/2011

Capitals know Steven Stamkos, Lightning won't make it easy

By Greg Schimmel

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)


Tonight's game will lack the pageantry and national intrigue of the Winter Classic, but when the Caps face the Lightning at Verizon Center, there will still be plenty at stake.

The Caps and Lightning enter tonight tied atop the Southeast Division with 51 points -- though the Lightning has a game in hand -- so while this game likely won't break any television ratings records, it will certainly be a good one to watch.

The Lightning enters Tuesday having gone 8-1-1 in its last 10 games, and shored up what was perhaps its biggest weakness in the early part of the season by acquiring veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson from the Islanders on Saturday.

"We all understand where they are in the standings and where we are," Caps winger Mike Knuble said. "It's a game that we will have to be emotionally ramped up for."

Dynamic center Steven Stamkos powers the Lightning, and the 20-year old enters tonight's game second in the league behind Sidney Crosby with 31 goals in 39 games.

Stamkos's league-leading 13 power-play goals drive the NHL's fourth-best power-play unit, which has converted on 23.1 percent of its opportunities so far this season.

"I think that Stamkos might be the best skater in the entire league," Caps defenseman John Carlson said. "You've always got to be wary of his speed out there, and he's also just as skilled as any of those other guys, too."

A stable of veteran forwards supports Stamkos, as Ryan Malone (10 goals, 20 assists) and Martin St. Louis (16 goals, 34 assists) generally flank him on the top line, and Simon Gagne and Vincent Lecavalier have both returned from significant injuries to provide secondary scoring.

"These guys are a really tough team," Caps winger Eric Fehr said. "We're just going to have to try get shots on them."

The Lightning's acquisition of Roloson seems tailored toward an attempt to beat the division-rival Caps, as the 41-year old netminder has a 6-4-3 record against Washington with a 2.40 goals against average and two shutouts in his career.

Roloson was just 6-13-1 in 20 starts for the lowly Islanders this season, but he won four of his last five times out.

"He's been through the wars, and I think he can calm down a younger team like that," Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I've seen him at every age be incredible."

The Caps face Tampa Bay three more times after tonight's game, and while Washington has won the teams' first two meetings this season, Boudreau said the head-to-head wins aren't just about sending a message.

"We want to be the best," Boudreau said. "To be the best, obviously, you have to beat Tampa now."

By Greg Schimmel  | January 4, 2011; 1:23 PM ET
Categories:  Tampa Bay Lightning  
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Next: NHL won't discipline David Steckel for collision with Sidney Crosby in Winter Classic

Comments

For MVP this year...Crosby and Stamkos are obviously the front runners, but does anyone thing Tim Thomas deserves it more? Without Crosby I still think the Pens wouls be a very formidable team, but Boston would not be in playoff contention without Thomas.

Posted by: capscoach | January 4, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

If Crosby continues to play as he has there is no way anyone will beat him out for the MVP, he is the golden boy of the NHL don't you know!

Posted by: PhilR | January 4, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

oh I know :) I think Caps fans know that better than anyone else!

Posted by: capscoach | January 4, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Roloson was picked up because Ellis and Smith have terrible save percentages and GA's behind a team that isn't impressive defensively at all. Roloson was in net for a team that was even worse defensively and still had a better #'s. Stevie Y is planning on a playoff run, because this team is showing that it could make the post season, and he needs a reliable goalie, at a bargain price.

Wash Post editors: Its a new year- Start off right by ignoring the Style Handbook Nazis. In Sports, almost every team name is plural. "The Lightning has..." is wrong. "The Bruins has" is wrong. Just use the appropriate form please. If it reads like $h!^, and sounds like $h!^, then it is $h!^.
Happy New Year.

Posted by: oo7 | January 4, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

brad richards should get some MVP consideration

Posted by: _stevo | January 4, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Crosby is clearly the MVP, no question, at the halfway point. Love him or hate him, he's been pretty effing amazing. Without him the Pens are battling for #8 seed right now.

I had Price up with Crosby before December but both he and the Habs have faded horribly.

Stamkos will get consideration for his numbers, and the guy is a beast, but if you take either him or MStL off that team, the removal of MStL would be more devastating.

Posted by: saintex | January 4, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Caps are undefeated this decade. Let's hope it stays that way. :-)

Regarding the point made by oo7 regarding mass nouns, such as "singular" team names: You're absolutely correct. It's "the Lightning have a game in hand" or "the Lightning enter Tuesday having gone 8-1-1 in their last 10 games." If the Post wanted to say "Tampa Bay is 8-1-1 in its past 10 games," that would be far less objectionable.

The Post's incorrect style on this one is made all the more jarring when the team names are used in contrast with each other, as they usually are in sports stories.

BTW, the editors of the Chicago Manual of Style agree with us on this point: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/CMS_FAQ/Plurals/Plurals20.html

But then, we're talking about the Washington Post editors, who are too stupid to realize that "Labor Party" is a misspelling of a proper noun when referring to the British political party (formerly led by Gordon Brown and, before him, Tony Blair) that is named "Labour."

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 4, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

In British usage, group nouns are always plural. In American usage, they can be either singular or plural, depending upon circumstances.

Posted by: OvechkinFan92801 | January 4, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

It's a 2 person race with Crosby and Thomas having amazing seasons, but one other name should be thrown in...

Atlanta's Andrej Pavelec!

Thomas, .945 save%, 1.80gaa, 5SO, 18W
Pavelec, .933 save%, 2.10gaa, 2SO, 14W

Posted by: FrankM73 | January 4, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

@1995hoo: It's possible to point out a perceived mistake without calling our editors -- me, in this case -- "stupid." This is our style for teams with singular names.

Posted by: Lindsay Applebaum | January 4, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: ajian1 | January 4, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

may have been posted already, but has anyone seen this bs...

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=348017

Posted by: jerry2178 | January 4, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it's hilarious when you read something in British that might say, "Tampa Bay are on an 8-1-1 streak presently."

"Boston is..."

"The Bruins are..."

What confused it was when teams starting naming themselves with words that are neither singular nor plural such as lightning, wind, fire, heat, etc.

Whereas "the Bruins are..." sounds correct, "the Lightning is..." can also sound correct (as can "the Lightning are...") This is because the plurality of lightning is contained within the word "bolt(s)."

"Tampa Bay is..." "The Bolts are..." "The Lightning is..." or "are" all sound correct to me.

What's most confusing is Miami Heat. Lightning comes in bolts (you can see them) but what about heat? Technically, "waves" of heat is not a scientific description but literary. "Heat," like "cold," is a relative term, and doesn't exist in the same fashion as a lighnting bolt. And "cold" doesn't exist at all - it's merely an absence of warmth.

English 101...where you least expected it.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | January 4, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

@1995hoo: It's possible to point out a perceived mistake without calling our editors -- me, in this case -- "stupid." This is our style for teams with singular names.

Posted by: Lindsay Applebaum | January 4, 2011 2:46 PM

I didn't call YOU stupid. I called the editors who think the name of the British political party is "Labor" stupid. If that's Post style, it's flat-out wrong, and there is no excuse for it. "Labour" is a proper noun.

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 4, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

may have been posted already, but has anyone seen this bs...

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=348017

Posted by: jerry2178
----

It's based on voting... I personally have 2 jobs and live in VA in an area where housing prices, mortgages were higher in the past... I have limited extra time to myself and I choose to play hockey, workout, and meet people... not sit by my PC and fake increase the numbers.

Fan voting is dumb as it stands. They should make it one vote base on NHL.com login and unique based on some type of info... but it doesn't really matter!

Why? Because if the caps play the playoffs like they played Pittsburgh... it's gonna be a long PO run to the Cup...

Posted by: FrankM73 | January 4, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I don't see Roloson as an upgrade over what they already have. It was a "no big deal" signing for me.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | January 4, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

@LINDSEY!

Can you please remove the Pens logo in the left hand corner next to "Winter Classic" coverage? It is more than annoying to see on the Caps blog.

Hate the Pens - hate 'em! Whoops, sorry 1995, I meant "I hate THEM!"

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 4, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

"@1995hoo: It's possible to point out a perceived mistake without calling our editors -- me, in this case -- "stupid." This is our style for teams with singular names."
Posted by: Lindsay Applebaum | January 4, 2011 2:46 PM

I'm just thrilled that somebody is actually reading our comments, even though they don't take any action (see logo above).

BTW, Lindsay, you are wrong and your editor is wrong. Rather that embarrass yourselves futher, why don't you convince your editor to adopt the correct policy?

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | January 4, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm just thrilled that somebody is actually reading our comments, even though they don't take any action (see logo above).

BTW, Lindsay, you are wrong and your editor is wrong. Rather that embarrass yourselves futher, why don't you convince your editor to adopt the correct policy?

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | January 4, 2011 4:17 PM

Some of the Post's blogs routinely feature comments from the authors in response to reader comments. Dr. Gridlock is particularly good about monitoring things and following up; he also uses readers' input in his print column. I believe Dan Steinberg routinely responds to comments as well.

On the other issue, don't get me wrong, I understand where Ms. Applebaum is coming from on the "that's our style" argument. In the newspaper business, the stylebook is God, and the editors adhere slavishly to it even when it is utterly incorrect to do so (again, citing my pet example of the Washington Post's misspelling of "Labour" as "Labor" even when that word is a proper noun). Look at how the New York Times uniquely persists in using periods in the names of sports leagues ("N.H.L." or "N.F.L."). I completely agree with you and oo7 that the Post's stylebook is incorrect on the use of the singular in reference to a sports team name like "Lightning" or "Wild" or "Heat." The Post's style sounds absurd and needs to be changed. But the editors resolutely refuse to fix that sort of thing in the stylebook for reasons unknown to rational beings.

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 4, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

@ 1995hoo and Wiley_One: I think you guys can be a little more respectful with your critiques. I think the Post does as fine a job as can be done. They're human and mistakes will happen. Kinda' like when you two were born. Sorry, Ms. Applebaum. They deserved it. =/

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | January 4, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

"@ 1995hoo and Wiley_One: I think you guys can be a little more respectful with your critiques. I think the Post does as fine a job as can be done. They're human and mistakes will happen."
Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | January 4, 2011 5:13 PM

I admire your attempt at chivalry in coming to Lindsay's defense, even if she is perfectly capable of defending herself. However, I believe you totally missed the point of the discussion. The disagreement is not whether a mistake was made. That would be simple to correct. This is about an entire organization that has stubbornly chosen to use incorrect grammar because that is their "style". Are you seriously defending that position?

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | January 4, 2011 11:20 PM | Report abuse

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