- The Washington Times - Friday, April 29, 2011

Going into the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Rangers, the Capitals understood they needed to at least get beyond that series after last year’s debacle against the Canadiens. But this week, Lightning coach Guy Boucher said the Caps are heavy favorites in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“I know that if they lose this for them it’s a huge failure, so there’s a lot of pressure,” Boucher said.

It was the second straight day Boucher said the pressure was on the Caps. On Thursday, he compared the series to “David vs. Goliath,’ and said the Lightning should get their slingshots ready. He was also very complimentary of Washington and said the Caps had no flaws.

“That’s so much crap. You know he doesn’t want to get in trouble by saying anything,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “But we all know we have faults. We got as many or more as most teams and gutted out a lot of things this year.”

In terms of preseason expectations, there is pressure on the Caps, but that’s hard to quantify now. As far as David vs. Goliath, the two teams were separated by four points in the standings and the Lightning occupied first place in the Southeast Division for much of the second half of the season.

So these teams at least appear pretty even.

“Of course it was even. They’re a great team. So if David is 6-6, Goliath is 6-5 and a half,” Boudreau said, mixing up the Biblical characters. “He’s trying not to say anything in the paper. And he’s doing a good job at it. But we know these are two evenly matched teams. And both teams know that they can win. That’s how all six games went as well in the regular season and I’m sure that’s how it’s going to be.”

The Caps were 4-1-1 against the Lightning this season.

Downtown where the Lightning skated following a day off, players and Boucher made it more about past success than this season. Defenseman Mike Lundin said, “They’ve had a few great seasons, and we’re just kinda getting our program back in action,” while the coach made note of his team’s ongoing learning process.

“This organization hasn’t won a series – except for the last one – in seven years. And they hadn’t made the [playoffs] in four years,” Boucher said. “Washington is at Year 5 of their plan. We’re at Year 1. And we’re aware of that. And so to be able to compete against those teams that are on a mission and have the experience from last year and the previous year to build on and know what they need. Whereas we have to learn it all right now.”

Lundin did mention the David vs. Goliath talk isn’t prevalent in the Lightning locker room, though his teammates said they like being underdogs – even if it’s just as the fifth seed in the East against the first seed.

“We know we’re up for a big fight and a big challenge, but that’s kinda been our motto all year and what we’ve been faced with,” Lightning forward Teddy Purcell said. “That excites us.”

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