This is the final meeting of the regular season between the Capitals and Lightning in what should be an intense and probably entertaining game in which one of the two clubs will take an edge in the fight for first place in the Southeast Division.
Over the course of the first five games in this season series there’s been a noticeable up-tick in physicality, chippiness and just the general distaste that Washington and Tampa Bay have for each other. It’s to be expected when two teams are doing well and both pursue the same goals, but when asked about the crescendo of emotion in these games Coach Bruce Boudreau went as far as to call it hate.
“Quite frankly, I think in the beginning we didn’t know what to expect the first couple games,” Boudreau said, “and then once they took the lead off of us and they beat us 1-0 [on Jan. 4] and they beat us 3-0 [Jan. 12], [we] sort of started saying: ‘Hey we don’t like these guys.’
“We don’t like the way they dive every two seconds and they lead the league in power play attempts because they’ve got guys like [Steve] Downie -- even though he might not be playing tonight -- who if I was a referee I would never make a call on him ever because he dives every two seconds,” Boudreau continued. “]Steven] Stamkos, dives every two seconds. You start to get a hatred on for guys like that. So, it will be interesting.”
Lightning Coach Guy Boucher declined to respond to Boudreau’s comments.
“I’m not going to try to get an edge off ice,” Boucher said. “I’m not going to try to do that, I’m going to let the guys play and I believe that our players and their players, they fight with everything they’ve got. I have more respect for the players than just to say their players or our players dive or whatever.”
Downie is expected to miss tonight’s game.