Tampa Bay Lightning sweep Capitals to playoff curb

Once upon a time…not too, too long ago…there was an NHL team trailing three games to one in an opening round playoffs series. Facing a game-five on the road, this team was on the verge of being unceremoniously kicked to the postseason curb.

But they trampled all over their foes to avoid elimination, beating them 8-2. They followed that up with a 4-2 win at home in game-six then denied their opponents even one single goal in the deciding seventh game. They then rode that wave straight into the next playoff round and swept there next opponent…the best team in the conference after regular season play… right to that same postseason curb they almost found themselves days earlier.

The Tampa Lightning have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals after sweeping the Washington Capitals out of the playoffs (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The Tampa Lightning have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals after sweeping the Washington Capitals out of the playoffs (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Again… after finding themselves down three games to one they rattled off seven in a row, four of them on the road.

This is not a tail of a team’s playoff success from years ago. No, the subject of today’s story is the current-day Tampa Bay Lightning. And after last night’s 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals they became the first team to advance to the conference finals…the Final-Four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With their run into the conference finals the Bolts are, in my humble opinion, becoming the story of this spring’s Great Hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Certainly they made an impression on Caps forward Mike Knuble.

“It’s very frustrating. I don’t think any of us saw this coming down, happening like it did. Probably the last thing that was in our mind, but you have to give them credit,” Knuble said of what the manner his team was handled by the Lightning. “They played well, and they held their own when they had to.”

“And really, when they got their chances they capitalized. It was pretty amazing how well they could do it.”

Bye-Bye Boudreau?

Now that the Capitals have made yet another disappointing exit from the playoffs, the chatter has already begun about head coach Bruce Boudreau should be on the hot seat. After taking over behind the bench in the fall of 2007, he’s led the Caps to four straight playoff appearances, the last two years as top seeds in the east. Last season they finished with the Presidents’ Trophy added to their mantle.

But they’ve yet to progress past the second round in any of those four playoff campaigns and it’s caused some to speculate whether a change is needed. In fact, the players had barely finished shaking hands and left the ice before the talking heads on Versus began the discussion.

Personally, I don’t believe Boudrau’s to blame here and I certainly wouldn’t show the door to a coach that has helped hang four division banners in the rafters in as many years. But I’m sure there are more than a few Caps fans and pundits in D.C. that have grown tired of seeing the team fail to translate the regular season success into a serious run at the Cup come postseason.

So…let the debate begin.

Flyers And Red Wings One Loss Away From Joining Caps At The Curb

The Bolts may not have to wait long to find out just who their opponents will be in the conference finals as the Boston Bruins have now jumped out to a commanding three-OH lead against the Philadelphia Flyers. Last night they belted Philly 5-1 behind a pair of goals by defenseman Zdeno Chara and 37 saves by Tim Thomas.

It didn’t take Boston long to get things rolling at home. They netted two goals in the opening 63 seconds of the game and never looked back, adding two more in the second period. That’s when the Flyers revolving door in goal began to turn again as starter Brian Boucher gave way to reliever Sergei Bobrovsky for the second time in this series.

Boucher has started seven games for Philadelphia during the playoffs and has been yanked three times. He has a 3.13 GAA and .904 SV% during nine games played.

Friday night the Bs on Boston’s jerseys could stand for “Brooms” as they’ll have a chance to sweep the Flyers to that same proverbial playoff curb the Caps now find themselves.

Elsewhere, the San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings drew the short straw and played in the NHL mandatory nightly overtime game Wednesday evening. It was the 20th time so far this spring that extra time has been required to determine a winner.

Devin Setoguchi’s hat trick goal 9:21 into overtime sent the Sharks to a 3-0 lead in that series. He came off the bench during a rush and snapped off a wrister that beat Jimmy Howard.

Setoguchi, who scored the OT winner in game-thee versus the LA Kings in the first round, became the hero just 2:10 after being sprung from the sin-bin where he sat for holding Detroit’s Todd Bertuzzi.

Like the Bruins, San Jose will be able to advance to the next round Friday with a win.

If they are able to wrap it up then, they’ll then await the outcome of the Canucks-Predators matchup. Vancouver leads Nashville two games to one with game-four set to get underway tonight in the Music City.

78 comments Add your comment

Rhythmpenguin

May 5th, 2011
10:17 am

Anyone know anything about Balkan? I have been out of touch lately with info on potential new owners.

moriler

May 5th, 2011
10:18 am

moriler

May 5th, 2011
10:20 am

That said: it seems my round 2 picks are going to be collectively flushed.

I do think Boudreau will be fired, and I think he should be — four division banners isn’t so hard when you have a rack of skilled players to work with. I think he and Anderson are probably more comparable than we realized — the biggest difference between the teams has been the Caps’ ability to have a true top line of superstars and a decent supporting cast, where the Thrashers’ owners simply refused to spend money.

Joe McGrath

May 5th, 2011
10:20 am

Wouldn’t it be great if Preds v Bolts in SCF? Man, the canucks (not the Canucks) and other haters of non-traditional market franchises would be so pissed they’d puke.

hockeygoon79

May 5th, 2011
10:46 am

Tough to hold Bruce solely accountable for the failings in Washington. He’s a quality coach and quality man in the organization. However, stranger things have happened before so I guess it wouldn’t be a total surprise if he’s shown the door.

Nashville needs a win tonight. I doubt Vancouver will allow what happened in the first round to happen again if they get that 3rd win in the series tonight.

DWTOO

May 5th, 2011
11:12 am

Would like to see Bodreau fired and then hired here. And Holmgren should be fired for not picking up a goalie at the trade deadline. Boucher was absolutley horrible again last night. Bobrosky has potential, but, he’s not ready yet.

ZAvalanche

May 5th, 2011
11:17 am

Joe, I would like to see that SCF, but there is much to be decided. Washington has built their team around a single player and it showed. Absolutely nobody in any blog can deny that Ovi is an awesome talent – but it is a team game. I think the Cap’s move to a more defensive system helped but the speed of Tampa killed them. Good hockey though.

World Be Free

May 5th, 2011
11:20 am

DWTOO-right on concerning Philly situation. Flyers where hoping one o fhteir 3 basket cases would go on a tear in the playoffs, has’t happened. Boucher looked horrible on the Horton goal last night, Flyers aren’t helping them by playing under their potential.

I have no idea what the owners are doing by going public right now. AJC is stupid for getting into the act too, let the process work itself out.

Gotta give San Jose credit, they look like they finally have the mojo to make it to the big dance. Western Conference Final may turn out to be the REAL Stanley Cup final match.

Red Light

May 5th, 2011
11:22 am

There should be no debate about Boudreau’s future. Four division titles, four playoff appearances, sold-out building. McPhee has done solid work in the past, but his moves during the past few years strengthened the Caps for the regular season, but they didn’t have the desired affect in the playoffs. It’s not as if the Caps fans should expect a Stanley Cup just because they have Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom and Green.

Their defensive corps, while improved, still has the likes of Hannan (nice player but not a stud), Alzner, Erskine, Schultz and the rookie Carlson, who is probably the second best of the bunch. I can name at least a half-dozen other teams with a much better group than the one the Caps throw out there.

As a matter of fact, if Jacques Martin and Alain Vigneault can keep their jobs, then certainly Bruce Boudreau should keep his.

Red Light

May 5th, 2011
11:35 am

Has this ever happened?

Rookie GM, rookie head coach and new owner to win a professional sports championship?

Tom Lysiak

May 5th, 2011
11:48 am

There are a few disturbing things in Tim Tucker’s article, some of it unsaid. Mainly it is bothersome that there are no local prospects. Wonder who the local prospect was that bailed, and why (other than the obvious)? What about the groups who were interested in both teams and the arena? Does this mean that they are really only interested in selling the Thrash (in spite of stating otherwise)? What happened to Stan Kasten and what group was he representing?

Then Gearon still calls for someone in the community to step up and invest or buy? My question remains the same. Why in the heck is Turner not stepping up? I know he recently said he has already been there and done that. He owns this mess, by virtue of the David McDavid/ASG abortion. Turner (the business) lost a lawsuit over the way it was handled. He has the money according to Forbes. He needs to man up and clean up the mess he was a party to. He owes that to this city considering his history here.

Sam

May 5th, 2011
12:36 pm

Breaking news! The Capitals and Penguins are going to the Stanley Cup Finals–with TICKETS!! I got my tickets already – http://bit.ly/tampatks :)

DWTOO

May 5th, 2011
12:54 pm

Tucker and to an extent Vivlamore are playing to peoples fears. Good news and positive remarks don’t sell newspapers. It’s always the crud that stirs the casual fans attention. Disappointed in C Viv – expect BS from Shultz and Tucker has been bounced from assignment to assignment at the AJC, but, Viv’s is supposed to be on our side. John Kincaide has been the most positive media person on this subject. Now, that’s scary.

Joe Friday

May 5th, 2011
1:59 pm

“John Kincaide has been the most positive media person on this subject.”

And when’s the last time he’s been right about anything? Scary, indeed.

Red Light, I’m going to be watching the game tonight in the unlikely event that the Preds can even up the series, I’ll be pulling for them! But the rest of this round? Bor-ing!

Red Light

May 5th, 2011
2:00 pm

Before talk of a potential sale and relocation can begin in earnest, don’t you first have to have a buyer? Until I hear from True North or any other potential suitor, that they are willing to pay the freight for this franchise (and steep relocation fee), I won’t put much stock into what is being tossed around.

If the Phoenix situation took several years to play itself out, why do people think Atlanta can be resolved in less than seven weeks? Terms? Agreement in principle? Legal documentation…etc. etc. etc.

I still believe the Thrashers will play here in 2011-12.

Red Light

May 5th, 2011
2:01 pm

No question it’s a must win situation for the Preds tonight JF. Think we’ll see the maximum effort, but whether or not it will be enough is a huge ?

Rinne needs to duplicate Game 2.

Rumor has it

May 5th, 2011
2:48 pm

I hear that an offer was made to ASG for the Thrashers, but it was turned down. If that is true, I hope it was a legit offer and that Bettmen was made aware. I can imagine that ASG might be wanting too much, trying to make up for the loses they have incurred (due to their own incompetence!).

LAC

May 5th, 2011
3:34 pm

Loved what Joe said !!! As for vilivimore or whatever his name is, He is and Always has been a complete TOOL of asg. He NEVER asks tough questions, NEVER pushes for explanations and
is a Soft as a pillow on any asg owner and ALWAYS blames those who disagree with his poor reporting. His web interviews are AWFUL, I have seen blades of Grass with more personality than he has, and remember to him, we are All “dudes”. I sincerely hope ajc with get a REAL hockey beat writer next season, It would be Fantastic !!!

Bruce, no doubt he will be canned, likely after the SCF. I say trade the 7yh overall pick to Washington for Backstrom, he needs a change of scenery, playing behind Ovechkin/Semin
has not helped him and he would flourish here and WE do need scoring !

Dodgeball

May 5th, 2011
4:40 pm

Gearon: “Blah, blah, blah, blah and blah.

alex

May 5th, 2011
4:47 pm

remember before the season began some boogers been completely disagree with my assessment that Tampa much stronger ours thrashers. “no they not so deep and we much closer to playoff run”. it’s true thrashers now much closer to Winnipeg than bolts to Stanley. actually both team could reach there’s goals.

Fan from Carolina

May 5th, 2011
4:49 pm

Rawhide, I think Boudreau is history. The Caps need a Torterella type mean a$$ coach. Look what he did for Lecavalier’s career, never mind the Cup year and the fact tht he took an offensively challenged Rangers team, with tons of injuries, into the playoffs. He even played tha Caps pretty tough and close. Imagine if Boudreau was the Rangers coach and Torts was the Caps coach. I bet the Caps would not have been swept.

R. Stroz

May 5th, 2011
4:50 pm

Having the Atlanta Spirit Group as the owner of the Thrashers is about as comforting as having Pakistan as your ally against terrorism.

R. Stroz

May 5th, 2011
4:51 pm

Isn’t that a Brutally Good Analogy?

Alan R.

May 5th, 2011
4:54 pm

Officially nominating R Stroz’s 4:50pm post for Post Of The Decade.

Fan from Carolina

May 5th, 2011
4:54 pm

By the way, if anyone thinks a Bruins/Lightning series is going to be boring, hang up the hockey sweater now. If Boston and San Jose advance to the SC finals, imagine the excitement of Thornton returning to Beantown facing his old club. Boring?? How about Dan Boyle returning to face Tampa Bay if they advanced?? Looks like a Stevie Y vs Red Wings finals won’t happen but this is GREAT hockey this year!

Rhythmpenguin

May 5th, 2011
5:12 pm

I second that Alan R. Nice one R. Srtoz!

alex

May 5th, 2011
5:44 pm

Red Light! so what to celebrate if thrashers going to play just for one season more…, and bye. i expect a “line of free agent” to sign for Atlanta with possibility 2012-2013 playing in Winnipeg. payroll under water, roster full of ahl star building quiet and not half but totally empty, and new record for point low and loses. it’s true excitement.

Red Light

May 5th, 2011
6:32 pm

Never said it was cause to celebrate alex. Just an observation.

Brendan

May 5th, 2011
6:49 pm

Red Light, I don’t believe rookie ownership, with a rookie GM, and a rookie Head Coach has ever won the Stanley Cup before. I kinda doubt it has happened in the NBA, NFL, and/or MLB. But, if it has, my guess is … Major League Baseball.

Freak-A-Dump

May 5th, 2011
7:22 pm

Sweeping washington is impressive! Although I wonder how the first round with the Bolts and Pens would have turned out with Crosby and Malkin healthy and playing?

Sage of Bluesland

May 5th, 2011
9:34 pm

Still laughing at jokes like Cornsheep, who would constantly bleat about our pitiful Thrashers being much better than the Lightning…I don’t know which/who is a bigger joke: he/she or Don Waddell.

Tough call on that, I know.

Kincade is nothing but a joke, as well. Wait, I wonder if Lambbread and the blowhard are one and the same? Hmmm…

Calling Sage of Bluesland

May 5th, 2011
10:24 pm

Which one do you prefer?

Cornbwead, Cornsheep, Lambbread, or just Braindead?

Acer9

May 6th, 2011
6:46 am

Fan from Carolina

May 6th, 2011
7:19 am

Where did everyone go? Are there really that few NHL fans here in the Atlanta area? I can’t imagine following just the Thrashers only. It is such a great game with so many stars and teams to admire. When I make the trek to Philips arena a few times each year it isn’t just the Thrashers I come to see but all the stars and quality teams out there. NHL Center Ice must not have many subscribers in GA or else many don’t get VS or the NHL Network..

Hoof Arted

May 6th, 2011
9:01 am

Hard to believe but the second round of the playoffs could be wrapped up by tomorrow night. If San Jose and Boston complete their sweeps tonight and Vancouver finished of Nashville tomorrow, it’s done.

What will NBC do Sunday? Will they move up the conference finals and begin them early next week?

R. Stroz

May 6th, 2011
9:07 am

Acer9 – Well Played

hockeygoon79

May 6th, 2011
9:25 am

Thanks for getting me all excited, Acer9. I thought you were on to something, but very funny though.

I think there is something to this “Balkan” thing Kincade speaks of but it was a mistake to pin a silly nickname to him. Had he just continued to refer to this person as “a person of interest” or something like that it wouldn’t seem so silly.

Hockey's Grim Reaper

May 6th, 2011
9:27 am

Looks like I’m going to have a very busy weekend ahead.

ZAvalanche

May 6th, 2011
10:05 am

Oh Suter, like wearing horns? Stupid, stupid penalty. I still think Nashville will get another win. Anybody see the replay of Darren Pang catching that errant puck? Pretty cool, he kind of annoys me, but guy has hands.

Man I hope the 2nd round isn’t over by Sunday, I will actually have to do yard work as I will have no excuses…..

ThrashDawg

May 6th, 2011
10:30 am

I had to turn the radio off yesterday when listening to Gearon talk! Why is it that this clown is always taking jabs at the fans; both Hawks and Thrashers? The reoccuring theme with these guys is always the same; we are doing everything we can to put a winner on the ice and court and it is up to the fans to show up and support the team! What a joke! These supposed business men are alienating their own customer base by calling them out for their own failures rather than looking themselves in the mirror! Why the hell did they even buy an NHL and NBA franchise if they did not have the financial ability to run them properly! Oh, I forgot it’s the fans fault! Geez..!

ZAvalanche

May 6th, 2011
10:34 am

ThrashDawg – well said.

Red Light

May 6th, 2011
11:05 am

Although the Czech Republic’s wins have come against Latvia, Denmark and Finland, Ondrej Pavelec has been outstanding in the World Championships so far, compiling a 3-0 record, one shutout, a 1.00 GAA and a save percentage of .963.

Couldn’t hurt the lad’s confidence as they enter today’s qualification round match against the home team Slovakia, which will toss out Gaborik, Visnovsky, Satan, Handzus, Nagy, Demitra, Hossa, Jurcina and Halak among others. Two ex-Thrashers, Bartecko and Majesky also are on the roster.

ThrashDawg

May 6th, 2011
11:11 am

Thanks ZAvalanche…I had to vent and thanks to Ice Man for this blog to give me the opportunity! I just wonder how many guys like me are just waiting to buy season tickets if these guys would just sell the team and get the heck out of the way!

ZAvalanche

May 6th, 2011
11:31 am

RL, I still think Pavs is going to be a top-flight goalie. But no goalie can handle the NHL when they don’t have defense. The offensive skill is just too high.

ZAvalanche

May 6th, 2011
11:42 am

Here is what I think about the remaining games:

The ‘Ville is probably done. Vancouver shat bricks in the last series and they have gotten over the idea that they are better than everybody else = very dangerous.

I don’t know if I will ever discount The Big Red Borg, but this series, among other things, has to be getting Motor City down. Well played SJ.

Tim Thomas is on fire = bad omens for Philly. Not to mention that Philly’s net has more visitors than Tiger Woods = sorry Smoothie, I am sure you admire him, as I do as well, but if you are married that type of action is not OK. Single = you go man!

ZAvalanche

May 6th, 2011
11:45 am

Welcome ThrashDawg, we all need to vent regarding A$$G and how the team was run. Though I might add that you could call me ThrashBee (Yellow Jacket!!!!!). But at least we agree on one team :)

ZAvalanche

May 6th, 2011
11:46 am

ThrashDawg, I might add that both agree that we hate Auburn!

ThrashDawg

May 6th, 2011
12:27 pm

and Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Clemson,, Florida State…etc..unlike some Dawgs I only hate Tech one day of the year in football! lol

World Be Free

May 6th, 2011
12:40 pm

I can’t help but wonder if Detroit’s next game will be the last time we see Nick Lidstrom in a Red wing uniform. I cannot think of a better defenseman in any era. Never dirty either, not for a minute.

World Be Free

May 6th, 2011
12:54 pm

Good to hear the Caps won’t do something stupid like fire Boudreau. McPhee is a good GM, but he needs to be under the microscope for failing to build a support system for Ovie. Backstrom, Green and Semin were largely invisible for the Bolts’ series too. Capitals need a real anchor defenseman, a guy who can carry the mail for 25 minutes / game. John Erskine played beyond his abilities all season, Schultz is a pylon. Poti’s career may be over because of groin issues (no laughs now).