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The Washington Capitals have lost both of their first two home games in this semifinals series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Before the online betting for Kentucky Derby favorites is even over, the NHL news for the Capitals is not very good. The problem for the Capitals is that they are following the same pattern that got them knocked out of the playoffs last year, and the year before that. The shame of it is that there is very little the Capitals can do to break their bad habits.

The Tampa Bay Lightning seem to have come to life in front of veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson. The pay per head goaltending situation in Tampa was a bit complicated prior to Roloson’s arrival. The Lightning had Dan Ellis and Mike Smith, who were both playing well. But the team was not playing well in front of either goaltender. Despite impressive stats, Ellis was shipped off to Anaheim and Smith was benched in lieu of Roloson, who was picked up from the Islanders during the season. It turned out to be the right move as the team has responded and now they have a 2-0 lead on the Washington Capitals in the playoffs.

Washington Capitals

Two years ago, the Capitals entered the playoffs with an impressive rookie goaltender named Semyon Varlamov. The Caps got through the first round, but found things a little difficult in the second round. Varlamov cracked under the pressure, and the Capitals started playing like individuals rather than a team. That meant that the Capitals lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Last year the Capitals tried Varlamov again, but the results were worse as the Caps dropped out in the first round.

This year’s playoffs looks like an exact repeat of 2009-2010. The Capitals entered the playoffs with rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who played well in the first round, but is experiencing problems in this round against the Lightning. In response, Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals are playing like individuals rather than a team. The same actions will yield the same results for the Washington Capitals.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning simply came to life when the playoffs started. After struggling for much of the season, the top scorers for the Lightning are now putting the puck in the net. Vincent LeCavalier, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis are being the leaders they are supposed to be in the playoffs. Goaltender Dwayne Roloson is playing solid in the nets for the Lightning. The formula is pretty simple for the Lightning, and it looks a lot like the same formula Tampa followed to win the Cup in 2003-2004.

The Bottom Line

Alex Ovechkin is a great player and a fine motivator, but he is not a leader. When Ovechkin tries to lead by example, he tries to do everything himself. The Capitals all follow suit, and then get knocked out in the playoffs. The pattern will sustain itself in this game.

BSNblog Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning

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