2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals – Tampa Bay Lightning vs Detroit Red Wings Series Odds, Predictions and Preview: Based on the seeding alone, the top-seeded Washington Capitals would seem to have a decided advantage over the No. 5-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning in this Eastern Conference semifinal matchup. However, these division rivals were separated by just two games in the win column during the regular season. When two teams have faced off as many times as these two squads have, there is bound to be some bad blood. With a spot in the conference finals on the line, an intense series should be on tap.
The two teams couldn’t have taken different paths to get past the opening round. The Capitals overwhelmed the New York Rangers in five games in their opening round series with a combination of solid goaltending and timely offense. Meanwhile, the Lightning survived a thrilling seven-game series with the shorthanded Pittsburgh Penguins. They sealed the deal by winning three straight, including a1-0 win in the final game.
Both clubs are led by superstars on the offensive end. The Lightning feature a 45-goal scorer in Steven Stamkos, veteran Vincent Lecavalier, and the always dangerous Martin St. Louis running the show. St. Louis’ 68 assists during the regular season were the second most in the NHL, and his 99 total points were also the second most. The Capitals counter with prolific scorer Alex Ovechkin. Although known mainly for his scoring, Ovechkin matured this season, surpassing the 50 assist mark. His leadership, along with his scoring, is one of the main reasons Washington grabbed the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Manning the net for Washington is youngster Michal Neuvirth. His 2.45 goals against average during the regular season was mediocre, but he got more comfortable as the season progressed. More importantly, he was downright impressive in the opening round of the playoffs. Going up against Henrik Lundqvist, who led the NHL in shutouts, Neuvirth posted a 1.38 GAA. In this series, he will be opposed by Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson. Roloson was equally unimpressive during the regular season, but he turned up his performance in the playoffs as well. In the seven games against the Penguins, he posted a 1.77 GAA.
With both teams’ goalies playing well, this series is likely to feature a number of close games. Washington is the deeper of the two squads, and they aren’t afraid to wear opponents down with physical play. It is the main reason why the Capitals gave up the third-fewest goals in the NHL. The Lightning have enough firepower to grab a game or two, but top to bottom, Washington has more weapons and are the better team.
Prediction: Washington Capitals Win in 6 Games
2011 NHL Playoffs – Series Prices from SBG Global Sportsbook
Washington Capitals vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Washington Capitals -185
Tampa Bay Lightning +165
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