The Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning meet for the fourth time this season Saturday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Both clubs are on the outside looking in at the post-season though the Capitals, coming off a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Friday night, have the better prospects sitting just one point out of the final playoff spot.
For the Lightning, it’s another “do or die” game, as they continue their four-game homestand after an overtime win Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks. They are currently eight points from the playoff picture, and in the middle of what appears to be a look toward the future from management.
On Thursday morning, Pavel Kubina was removed from the lineup pending a trade, and just minutes before the faceoff against San Jose, Dominic Moore was sent to the Sharks in exchange for a second-round draft pick.
Despite the changes, Lightning coach Guy Boucher is determined to push those distractions aside.
“Instead of taking me five minutes to refocus, it takes 10,” Boucher said. “The reality is that when trades happen guys come in and out, the focus has to be on how will we replace that guy, not on how the situation will hurt for the next few days.
“Kubina is not here now; Moore is not here, so the focus is, who is going to take care of that spot? So, we have to act fast and make sure that person understands the job. The more we cry about whatever, the more we get away from our job, which is to teach.”
One subject Boucher will be teaching about is how to stop Troy Brouwer, who has scorched the Lightning for five goals in their last three meetings.
“Troy Brouwer, yeah – there are a lot of guys we have to watch out for on that team,” Boucher said.
Washington coach Dale Hunter will make sure Tampa Bay sees plenty of Brouwer tonight.
“Everybody gets a hot hand against some team,” Hunter said. “Troy gets enough time as it is, but he might have to get an extra shift or two.”
Here are the projected lineups for both teams:
Alex Ovechkin - Marcus Johansson - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Jay Beagle - Brooks Laich - Mike Knuble
Matt Hendricks - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Jeff Schultz - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Dmitry Orlov
Tom Pyatt - Vincent Lecavalier - Martin St. Louis
Steve Downie - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Nate Thompson - JT Wyman
Ryan Shannon - Adam Hall - Brett Connolly
Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Brendan Mikkelson - Bruno Gervais