Tampa Bay Lightning opponent breakdown: Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 23: Nicklas Backstrom
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 23: Nicklas Backstrom /

As the 2018 season draws closer, Bolts By The Bay will be breaking down the Tampa Bay Lightning’s notable matchups from around the league. Today, we look at the Washington Capitals.

Next in the line of Tampa Bay Lightning opponents, the Washington Capitals.  Boasting the best record in the NHL for the past two seasons in a row, the Capitals are a tough opponent.

Featuring forward depth based around Alex Ovechkin, as well as (usually) strong goaltending from Braden Holtby, the Capitals are a force to be reckoned with on any given night.  However, Ovechkin’s production was a bit less than expected last year and the Capitals defense proved to be problematic at times.  

Nonetheless, that didn’t keep them from a back to back President’s trophy.  Speaking of streaks, they build on their second-round exit streak with their third in as many years.  

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

Reasons to like them:

It doesn’t particularly matter how good they do during the regular season because they’re in a different division than the Lightning.  Historically, the Lightning has never lost a playoff series to the Capitals either.  

Their most recent meeting was in the 2010-2011 Conference Finals in which the Bolts swept the Capitals.  In more recent playoff history, the Capitals have been kind enough to excuse themselves before the Lightning have to play them.  Come playoff time, President’s trophies and regular season records don’t really matter to the Bolts.  

Reasons to hate them:

They’re good in the regular season.  Really good.  Last season, the Bolts only won one of their three meetings.  Those four missing points would have made a difference in last year’s playoff race and may have even extended their season.   

For some reason, Holtby decides to turn into a brick wall against the Bolts.  The Lightning’s only season win came in a shootout, and a shutout was recorded against them during their second meeting.  

Even when the Lightning managed to put up three against them in their third meeting of the season they still lost.  Most nights, scoring three goals will reward you with two points in the standings.  


The Capitals have had a pretty rough offseason.  Kevin Shattenkirk’s quick tenure with the team is over and their blueline is a little bit less for it. A free agent Kevin Shattenkirk signed a four-year deal with the New York Rangers.

 The loss of Justin Williams, Karl Alzner, and Marcus Johansson doesn’t help the Capitals case either. Pair that with little cap space to work with after a few big re-signings and the Capitals are, on paper at least, a slightly worse team than they were last year.

In addition to this, Alexander Ovechkin’s 2016-2017 season, especially in the playoffs, was uncharacteristically unproductive.  He tied his record for games played (82) and had his third-lowest point production of his career.  

To put that in perspective, his other two less productive seasons were both ended prematurely with an injury.  One of those seasons was almost half of the number of games he played in this year.  One has to wonder if Ovechkin is beginning to decline with age or if last season was just a fluke.  

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning must win Stanley Cup this year

All things considered, the Lightning will win one game, the Capitals will win one game, and the third is a tossup between the two.  It depends on the goaltending of both teams that night and who performs for either team.  With optimism for next season, I’ll side with the Tampa Bay Lightning hoping that everyone is healthy and Steven Stamkos is back to his old self.