Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom (hand) misses Game 1 against Lightning

2018 Eastern Conference Final Preview: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

I'm not sure that there's any way that the Caps would find themselves with this opportunity today if they hadn't made that switch. Seeing how it all transpired, I clearly wasn't that bold in round one. "I didn't get a whole lot of minutes at the beginning, but even if I get eight minutes, I still go out there and do my best and try to make those eight minutes count".

This series pits two quick and skilled teams against each other. Missed broadly in terms of number of games played in the Sharks series. San Jose was ousted by Vegas in six games in the Pacific Division finals and the Penguins, of course, lost to Washington.

These were my predictions for the Conference Semifinals. Nashville is next with 295, followed by San Jose with 285. "There are four teams left".

Down 2-0 and heading to Columbus in round one, things were looking bleak. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 21 of 25 shots after two periods before Louis Domingue relieved to start the third. Originally, I had Winnipeg over San Jose.

Malloy is very enthusiastic for the future of Washington's postseason. In the East, I had Boston over Washington. Ondrej Palat made it a 4-2 game with a sharp shot off the rush at 13:03, but the Caps managed the rest of the game well, denying the Lightning any sustained offensive zone time during Tampa Bay's time with the extra attacker in the last couple minutes of the game. Yet the final 10 seconds of the first period provided an early turning point. If that continues, they'll be a favorite to advance to the Cup Final. Both of Oshie's assists came on the power play, as he helped set up Alex Ovechkin's first-period goal (2-0) and Lars Eller's tally in the second frame (4-0).

"The goal isn't to get past the second round", centre Jay Beagle told the Washington Post.

Tampa Bay took too long to recover from the disallowed goal at the end of the first. The Penguins had previously defeated Washington in three series' in recent postseason history. If Backstrom can go, that's a huge boost for Washington.

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Lightning (A1) vs. Jets (C2)- The Stanley Cup Final hasn't gone to seven games since 2011, but if this was the final, it could easily get to that. On paper, this is a pretty fair match up, with an advantage to Tampa due to their depth on the blue line.

This year, a new team will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.

Out west, the Western Conference Finals consists of two teams nobody thought would be there in October.

"It doesn't take much to get up for these ones", Tom Wilson, who returned to action Friday following a three-game suspension, told NHL Network after the game. Each team deserves to be here. Winnipeg is a rare breed of speed and physicality.

Why Winnipeg can win: The Jets have slain their top competition. "Now we have a big job ahead of us here with Tampa". It is in the conference final for the third time in the past four years, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and losing in seven games to Pittsburgh in 2016. But even more so in a series where the goaltending is so good.

Once again, the National Hockey League playoffs are one of the most hard things to predict in all of sports. As we know, a Cup run is a battle of attribution with injuries playing a major role. The Knights are the faster team in this series, and have an extremely deep lineup up front. This season should be no different. "We were a step behind and you can't do that against a quality opponent at this time of the year".

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