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2018 NHL Playoffs Round 3- Game 1 Open Thread May 11/18

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It’s Tampa Bay and Washington in a battle for Eastern Conference supremacy. Just like I predicted...

Washington Capitals v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

WASHINGTON @ TAMPA BAY- 8:00 EDT/5:00 PDT (CBC/SN)

Two teams, two different paths. The Lightning cruised to a 5 game victory over the Boston Bruins, while the Capitals needed an emotional OT win in Game 6 to finally slay their dragon from Pittsburgh. Also, can I point this out?

And yeah, I am still saying the Jets win it all. We’ll talk about their series against Vegas tomorrow but for now let’s look at this one. Tampa’s been a team that people thought have been ready for the last couple years, but a number of things have tripped them up, most notably goaltending issues in the pre-Andrei Vasilevskiy days and injuries to Steven Stamkos. With those resolved, Tampa looks very much like the top team in the East, and while their opponent is no slouch, they should win out.

That’s not to say this is some kind of lock. Never underestimate a team that gets on a roll this time of year, as we saw back in ‘94 with the Canucks. Getting past a series called unwinnable by many can give such a boost that it can seem to carry a team forward and do amazing things. And the motivation for Alex Ovechkin, finally in a Conference Final is massive, and he will be the one to watch for the Caps. Also, how Braden Holtby holds up in this series against a team that can score at will even more than the Penguins. He will need to be at his best every night or this Tampa team will eat him alive.

Also, noted sociopath Tom Wilson returns to the Caps lineup after serving his 3 game suspension for a headshot he delivered in the Pittsburgh series. One can only imagine what mayhem he’ll look to create next...