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Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Gameday: at Tampa Bay, Feb. 4

The Caps and Bolts get exchange pleasantries January 12th.
The Washington Capitals are in Tampa Bay tonight to take on the Lightning in the most important game of their season to date. The Lightning are currently sitting in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference and lead the Southeast Division with 69 points; while the Capitals are in fifth place in the Conference and second in the Division with 64 points.  Both teams have played 52 games. Tonight is a good old old-fashioned four-pointer, folks: win and you are down three in the divisional race, lose and you are seven back.  It's not necessarily a must-win, but it's pretty darn close, because the Capitals have now seen their hold on fifth shrink dramatically as well, with the Canadiens now only one point back.  This is the fifth of six meetings between the Lightning and Caps this year, and the season series is split at 2 games apiece.  However, the Lightning have won both of the last two meetings by shutout; winning 1-0 January 4th and 3-0 January 12th, and are certainly the hotter and more confident team right now.

There will be no surprises for the Lightning tonight.  Guy Boucher will roll with Dwayne Roloson in nets for the home side; as Rollie has shut out the Capitals the last two times he has faced them.  The 41 year-old netminder has been on an absolute tear since the Lightning acquired him on New Year's Day, and has been a major factor in their recent surge towards the top of the NHL.

For the Capitals, Semyon Varlamov will get the tap on the pads for tonight's contest after saving 36 of 38 against the Canadiens on Tuesday night.  Varlamov has compiled a 1.74 GAA and a .946 save percentage in his last 10 games, however, he only has three wins over that span.  Alexander Semin did not make the trip to Tampa Bay despite practicing all week and will not play in tonight's game.  Matt Hendricks will take his spot on the second line with Marcus Johansson and Mike Knuble, while Broolks Laich will be bumped to the third unit with Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle.  DJ King and Tyler Sloan will be healthy scratches for Bruce Boudreau's men this evening.

Buckle up, folks.  This is going to be a good one.  Puck drops 7:37-ish...check back later.

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