NHL playoffs

Capitals vs. Lightning

Series: Best of seven games. Season series: Capitals won 4-1-1. Prediction: Capitals in seven.

Records: Capitals (No. 1 seed, first place in Eastern Conference) 48-23-11, Lightning (No. 5 seed, second in Southeast Division) 46-25-11.

Capitals: Stats | Roster | Results Rangers: Stats | Roster | Results

Forwards

This series is rather evenly matched throughout every position, beginning with both teams' talent-laden lineup of forwards. While Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin combined for six goals against the Rangers, no other top-six forward scored more than one. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay's trio of Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier combined for eight goals in their series against Pittsburgh, while three other Lightning players recorded at least two goals as well. With each squad gaining contributions from its role players – Jason Chimera and Marcus Johansson for Washington and Dominic Moore and Steve Downie for Tampa Bay – what may shift the balance up front is which team's star players can maximize their impact in the series, whether at even strength or on special teams.

Defense

While both the Capitals and Lightning have explosive offensive potential, each team has made steady defense a hallmark of its play. Washington played a stifling first round, allowing an average of only 1.60 goals against per contest. It's possible the Capitals may get Dennis Wideman back this series after a lengthy recovery from a leg hematoma and compartment syndrome he suffered in late March. That would give the team three puck-moving, right-handed defensemen in the lineup. Tampa Bay shored up its blueline when it picked up veteran Eric Brewer (five points, team-high average of 25:43 in the postseason) at the trade deadline to complement fellow veterans Pavel Kubina, Mattias Ohlund and second-year Victor Hedman.

By Katie Carrera - The Washington Post. Published April 29, 2011.