What the hell just happened?  I’m still in shock after seeing the Lightning steal another game from the Caps and take a commanding 2-0 series lead back to Tampa Bay.  I thought for sure the Caps would come out on fire and even the series at one game apiece.  Well, I was sort of right about them coming out on fire, but they couldn’t capitalize on some early golden opportunities and made one too many silly mistakes that may have cost them the series.  The Caps outshot the Lightning 37-23 in the game and had more than enough chances to put the game away, but Lightning netminder Dwayne Roloson came up big once again and denied the Caps of their first win of the series.  The 41-year-old Roloson stopped 35 shots and at times looked unstoppable.  This series is starting to eerily look like last year’s first round series against the Montreal Canadiens, when then-goalie Jaroslav Halak looked superhuman en route to a Canadiens’ upset series victory.

I just hope the Caps still have some magic left in them and don’t have another postseason meltdown that has become an all-too familiar trend this time of year.  I know Dave is going to break down the weekend action in depth tomorrow, but I just felt like I needed to put in my two cents in as well considering how this series has gone so far. I just can’t believe the Caps would let the Lightning come into their house and take both games.  I could maybe understand the Caps losing one game at home, but losing both is totally unacceptable.  You have to protect your home ice especially in the playoffs.  You bust your asses all season long in order to achieve home ice advantage, and then you basically give it away to a team you’re supposed to be better than.  After the way the Caps have performed in the first two games in this series, I have to start questioning their pride.

There’s no way to sugar coat it at this point.  There’s no question that they have the talent to win the Stanley Cup, but I just don’t see them putting out the effort needed to be Stanley Cup champions.  And it’s been the same story for the past few years.  I don’t know what it’s going to take for this team to stop going through the motions and start playing with some urgency.  I don’t know who is to blame, whether it be Bruce Boudreau, Alex Ovechkin or just the team in general, but something better change quickly or it’s going to be another long offseason in D.C.

At some point you would think the players would get tired of always being known as the team who constantly underachieves come playoff time.  And once again, they find themselves on the brink of being ousted from playoff contention.  The only good thing I can think of at this point is that the Caps play much better when their backs are against the wall.  I know it may sound a little weird, but I think the Caps come out much more loose in Game 3.  They just seemed too tight in the first two games of this series and it backfired on them.  They need to take a page from the Lightning playbook and play with a sense of urgency and trust their skills and each other.  They need to come out on fire in Game 3 and not let the Lightning jump out to an early lead like the first two games because if they get behind early again on the road, they’re going to be in a world of trouble.

I would like to know what kind of motivational techniques Coach Boudreau and the leaders of this team are going to use to get their team focused for the remainder of this series.  What I would say is that it’s now or never.  We haven’t come this far to give up now and let an inferior team embarrass us in front of the world.  Have some pride for yourselves and for each other and get back to the basics.  Skate with a purpose, hit hard, take plenty of shots, crash the goal, make crisp passes and don’t make the little mistakes that have plagued us in the first two games.  We are one hell of a hockey team and we deserve to be here.  Now start playing like it.

Submitted by Steve Giles