For about nine minutes tonight, the Caps looked like they might be in danger against a seriously undermanned Tampa Bay club. The Caps were being outshot 11-1, and the “one” was a clearing attempt by John Erskine from about 170 feet on the PK.
Then the Lightning took some penalties and the Caps settled in for a slightly tougher than it should have been 4-2 win. Here are some notes from the aftermath:
* The win seals the No. 2 seed for the Caps, which means home-ice advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Who the Caps play remains to be determined. It will either the Canadiens or the Rangers. Here are the scenarios:
— If Montreal loses in regulation to Pittsburgh on Saturday night, then it will be the Rangers.
— If Montreal wins or loses in overtime, we have to wait until Sunday evening for the outcome of the Flyers-Rangers game that starts at 5 p.m.
— A tie between the two teams (they are tied right now) means it is the Rangers.
* The Caps also set a team record for points in a season with 108 and tied the mark for most wins with 50. Obviously, they can break that record as well Saturday night.
Now, without trying to rain on the parade too much, please remember the differences between the 2008-09 team and the 1985-86 squad. These Caps were able to a) play two more games in their season and b) collect points for shootout wins and loses in overtime.
Basically, if this were 1986, the current Caps would have finished the season with 99 points (subtract seven points for 4 shootout wins and 3 losses in overtime and the two points from tonight in game No. 81).
It is a great accomplishment, but easy with the hyperbole. Unofficial team spokesman Brooks Laich summed it up pretty well:
“I wouldn’t say we are the best team in [Caps] history, but it is a nice feather in our caps,” Laich said. “We are going with judge ourselves by what we go through in the second season here in the playoffs. We haven’t been to the Stanley Cup finals and one team did, so if we win the Cup we will have this discussion again.”
* Laich set his own record, scoring goals No. 21 and 22.
* Mike Green had a three-point night, including goal No. 31 (though he should have been trying to feed Tomas Fleischmann for his 20th instead of shooting it himself at the empty net). Green now has 73 points — which is the fourth-most by a defenseman in franchise history. Kevin Hatcher had 74 in 1990-91, which Green could pass Saturday. Hatcher is also No. 2 on the list with 79 in 1992-93 and Larry Murphy is No. 1 with 81 in 1986-87.
That will be something for Green to shoot for next season.
* Not a lot to say about the Lightning, who were missing half their roster. Excpet that Steven Stamkos is really good. Everyone thought they knew that before his rookie season, but then he started slow. He was Tampa Bay’s best player. Not only did he score 36 seconds in with a wicked shot, he weaved through three or four guys on an end-to-end rush later in the game.
* The Caps are off tomorrow, and yours truly will be escaping to the Keys for a day of R&R before returning to Sunrise on Saturday afternoon. Fret not, because there will be a story in Saturday’s paper, er, online-only edition.
Here’s a tease: It is about a guy who wears No. 87.