After a three day stint of no games, the Tampa Bay Lightning stay on home as they face-off against the Washington Capitals Monday night. Earlier this season, the Lightning were barely able to beat the Capitals, taking them down 2-1 in overtime. A game that was full of great defense on both sides, it should be more of the same again on Monday night.
Alexander Ovechkin, arguably the best goal scorer of all time, and Steven Stamkos, another top goal scorer only right behind Ovechkin, face-off against each other as both players have had some of the best starts of their careers. Ovechkin, in just 8 games, has put up 9 goals, the best start of his career. Steven Stamkos, who has 5 goals and 12 points so far, is having a great start as the Lightning try to make up for the loss of Nikita Kucherov, who is out for another 7-9 weeks.
Ovechkin will be looking to break Brett Hull’s goal record of 741 goals to take over his spot as having the 4th most career goals in NHL history. Ovechkin currently sits at 739 goals. Stamkos will be looking to keep his game going strong as he has already had an incredible start to the season.
Both teams are very strong offensively, Tampa Bay having a slight edge over the Washington Capitals in terms of the depth on the Lightning roster compared to the Capitals. Defense, on the other hand, will slightly be in favor of the Capitals, as their defense has been more consistent this season so far.
Let’s start off with the Lightning, who have had quite the start to their season, going from being below .500% win to rising up to be at a solid 4-3-1 record, their game only getting better as the season moves forward. With that being said, these are the top three Lightning players based solely off points.
Steven Stamkos: 5G 7A 12P
Alex Killorn: 6G 3A 9P
Victor Hedman: 0G 8A 8P
To start off with their offense, they’ve been on fire as of late, playing very well and creating multiple opportunities in front of the net, which led them to beating Tristan Jarry last Tuesday, one of the hottest goaltenders at the moment. Arizona, that was a win that was kind of expected, but Pittsburgh was a big surprise after the Lightning first lost 6-2 against them in the NHL season opener.
The defense on this team started off badly, but over these first 8 games, there have been many improvements and it seems like there’s some good chemistry building between the defensemen. Things may look different now with Cal Foote expected to start on Monday night after being recalled from the Syracuse Crunch.
Now it’s time to look at the Washington Capitals, who have been on fire so far this season.
Alexander Ovechkin: 9G 6A 15P
Evgeny Kuznetzov: 5G 7A 12P
Tom Wilson: 0G 7A 7P
The Capitals offense has been spectacular, and it’s all thanks to Ovechkin, who leads the league in goals and is second in points. Evgeny Kuznetzov is having a much needed breakout season, as he was nearly traded this offseason after slumping the last two seasons. Tom Wilson not having any goals shows that he is being a good playmaker alongside Ovechkin and Kuznetzov. Could his stats be inflated? It’s possible, but there’s no way anyone can say he hasn’t improved over the last few years.
The Capitals defense has been strong, one of the strongest defense groups in the league. John Carlson has played phenomenal, and Nick Jensen currently leads the team in +/- with a +9. Watching a Capitals game is like watching them back in the 2018 playoffs. Complete dominance and some of the best gameplay we’ve seen from this team in a long time.
It’s believed that Ilya Samsonov will be starting in net and Vitek Vanacek will be on the bench. Samsonov sits comftorably with a .904% save and 2.43 GAA. His opponent, who will most likely be Andrei Vasilevskiy, sits at a .911% save and 2.53 GAA. Vasilevskiy is the obvious better goaltender for tonight’s game no matter who stars, but the numbers show that Vasilevskiy is having too many shots against as the Lightning defense has stru
ggled to begin the season. Over the last two gam
es though, th
ings have looked good for the Li
Score: 4-2 Lightning
Shots: 28 Lightning/43 Capitals
Top Performer: Steven Stamkos (1G, 2A, 3P)
Overall Performance: B+
The Lightning defense have a very tough challenge ahead of them, and it’s very likely that we will see some issues form on the blue line, leading Vasilevskiy to play like it’s a playoff game. Steven Stamkos tends to play well against the only other active player to hit 60 goals in a season, Alex Ovechkin, and it should be expected to see Stamkos lead this team towards a hard fought victory. Considering Samsonov plays Monday night, it’s more likely to see a 4-2 game, but if Vanacek starts, it will most likely be a 3-2 OT matchup. Keep an eye out on how the Lightning defense adapts to this high scoring Capitals team, especially Ovechkin.
The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Washington Capitals Monday night at 7pm EST.