On Thursday, when Lightning Coach Guy Boucher spoke to reporters he had nothing but extremely high praise for the Capitals.

Boucher billed this Eastern Conference semifinal as a contest as one where Tampa Bay is a significant underdog, even though the Lightning finished the regular season only two wins and four points behind Washington.

“They’re solid all around,” Boucher said. “Right now we’re looking at it, OK, where’s their weakness? There is no weakness. That’s how we feel about that. That’s why I’m saying Goliath against David. That’s why they’re the top team. It’s going to be a real tough task.

“We’re the new kids on the block,” Boucher continued. “We’re not kidding ourselves here. They’re the powerhouse. They’re the monsters right now. We’re the little naggers that are biting at ankles. It’s Goliath against David. That’s what it is. We’d better get our slingshots ready.”

Well, the Capitals and Coach Bruce Boudreau don’t exactly agree that there is so much discrepancy between the two teams.

“That’s so much crap,” Boudreau said. “You know he doesn’t want to get in trouble by saying anything. But we all know we have faults. We got as many or more as most teams and gutted out a lot of things this year.”

Several games against Tampa Bay this season were tightly-contested chess matches between the two coaches. While the Capitals did win the rµegular-season series 4-1-1, including two early blowouts from before either squad was playing at their current system with their present lineup.

So while the Lightning may be trying deliberately to not say anything inflammatory, Boudreau stressed that this series is closely matched.

“Of course it’s even,” Boudreau said. “They’re a great team. So if [David] is 6-6, [Goliath] is 6-5 and a half. He’s trying to not say anything in the paper and he's doing a good job at it. But we know these are two evenly matched teams and both teams know that they can win. That’s how all six games went as well in the regular season and I’m sure that’s how it’s going to be.”