We all know that both the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning can score with the best of them, but the secondary storyline in the second round NHL playoff series between the two Southeast Division rivals is all about defense.
Despite all of the hype about the high-flying Bolts offense, coach Guy Boucher has created a strong defensive group that relies not on the personnel that exist on his blueline, but on a team commitment to the operation. It's similar in a way, if not in execution, to what Bruce Boudreau has done with the Capitals this year, turning away from a simply overpowering offense to a defensive system that's able to win games in the playoffs.
Since both teams can score, and the Lightning proved late in their first round series win against the Pittsburgh Penguins that their offense is finally rolling a bit, the series against the Capitals could come down to which team stops the other team more successfully, not simply which team out-guns the other.
Washington easily handled the New York Rangers in the first round, but there's no doubt in anybody's mind that the Rangers are a pretty atrocious offensive team -- especially without Ryan Callahan, as they were in round one. The Bolts will be a much steeper test for Michal Neuvirth and his mates, and the degree to which they weather that storm could be the deciding factor in the series.
Of course, Dwayne Roloson will have to continue to be stellar against the insane offensive attack the Capitals employ, as clearly they're a much stronger challenge than the Penguins without their stars. Will this be the battle that plays out in Game 1? We'll find out Friday night at 7 p.m. ET on Versus and CBC.