With the success of the new and improved Tampa Bay Lightning it adds an extra level of rivalry to the Capitals' Southeast Division Schedule. Heading into Friday's game at Verizon Center, the Lightning is one of the hottest team in the NHL. Tampa Bay has won five straight games, has two players among the top two scorers in the league -- Steven Stamkos (38) and Martin St. Louis (29) -- and are four points out of first place in the Eastern Conference.
"We're playing arguably, right now the best team in the league, the hottest team anyway," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Them or Philly, but these guys beat Philly. Ever since they beat Philly too, they've been allowing no goals but still scoring five....We know we've got our hands full. We know they're a really good team, and hopefully we're ready for them."
Tampa Bay owns the fourth-best penalty kill in the league (88.6 percent) and fourth-best power play (25.3 percent) with 20 goals on the man-advantage, meaning discipline and strong play 5-on-5 will be particularly important.
After the Lightning's most recent win, a 5-3 victory over the Rangers, members of the upstart team remarked that they weren't happy with the way in which they earned the two points. Tampa Bay built a 5-0 lead against New York before giving up three, third-period goals. (Sound familiar?)
So as the Capitals and Lightning face off for the second time in a season where these games may have more meaning -- and more at stake -- than in years past, does this renewed rivalry mean anything more to you?
FROM THE POST
How Steve Yzerman has quickly restructured the Lightning and helped it back on the path of success.
Mike Knuble said he's ready to get back in the lineup Friday against Tampa Bay -- a week after suffering a broken jaw when he was hit in the face by a shot.
AROUND THE WEB
HBO released another, shorter, preview of what is to come on "24/7" and you can check it out below.