The Lightning did pretty well in Game 2 against the Capitals without Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina as they pulled off an overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead.
Without Gagne to help the offense and Kubina to help steady the defense, the Lightning called on Blair Jones and Randy Jones to fill the lineup. Those two combined to play just under 12 minutes total in Game 2.
It’s a good thing they got to test how well they’d do without them because they’re not going to have either of them in the lineup for tonight’s Game 3 and very likely won’t have them for tomorrow’s Game 4.
Tarik El-Bashir from The Washington Post gets the update from Guy Boucher in which he lays down the truth rather obviously.
“Simon and Kubina are not going to play,” he said. “If I want them to play tomorrow, I better start praying.”
Then the coach came clean and delivered the best lines of the series.
“They are day-to-day today,” he cracked, “except for today and tomorrow.”
Considering how the Lightning have been matching up with the Capitals, the parts of their defensive-minded machine are all interchangeable. No Gagne? Fine, we’ll give more minutes to Sean Bergenheim or Nate Thompson. No Kubina? All right fine, get out there Mattias Ohlund or Eric Brewer.
It might be frustrating what the Lightning are doing to the Capitals, but it’s working like a charm for them. Sure they’ve had their fair share of fortunate bounces mixed in there as well, but when things are going well for a team those things happen. The Caps have to find a way to make the Lightning feel uncomfortable. Getting a two goal lead on them might be the thing to do it but getting the Caps to score two goals quickly like that is asking a lot out of them against the staunch Lightning defense.
If the Caps aren’t able to take advantage of a banged up Tampa team with Games 3 and 4 being on back-to-back days, perhaps the Caps just weren’t prepared to challenge for the Stanley Cup after all.