Caps Need to Roll Over RolosonPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Washington has yet to play any must-win games this season, but tonight they’ll play the 80th of their 82 regular season games against the Lightning in Tampa Bay, and grabbing two points here would sure be a good idea. A victory over the Lightning would pull the Caps to within a single point of Florida for the top spot in the Southeast Division standings. It would also move the Caps four points ahead of ninth-place Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, reducing the Sabres’ tragic number to just two. Neither the Panthers nor the Sabres play tonight, but both play on Tuesday. The Caps could put some pressure on those teams by taking a pair pf points from the Lightning here in Tampa tonight. It won’t be an easy task. Including the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, Washington is without a win in its last four visits to this barn. In the 19 seasons the Lightning has been in the league, the Caps have not had a season in which they failed to win at least once on the road at Tampa. The Bolts were bounced from the playoffs despite winning their last game, a 3-2 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Goaltender Sebastien Caron earned his first NHL win in more than five years in that one, but Caps nemesis Dwayne Roloson gets the call tonight against Washington. Lifetime against Washington in the regular season, the 42-year-old Roloson is 8-6-5 with half of those victories coming via shutout. He has a 2.30 GAA and a .916 save pct. against the Caps. Roloson’s ongoing struggles this season were one of the main reasons why the Lightning missed the playoffs in 2011-12, a season after they came within one victory of reaching the Stanley Cup final. Roloson’s struggles started early in 2011-12, and he actually yielded the lion’s share of the netminding chores to journeyman free agent signee Mathieu Garon starting in late November. The Lightning’s playoff hero last spring, Roloson did not start and finish consecutive games for the Lightning from mid-November through mid-March. With Garon sidelined because of an injury, Roloson recently saw duty in eight straight games, his longest run of sustained action on the season. Roloson won three straight starts from March 22-26 for his first three-game run in more than four months. Coming into tonight’s game, he has dropped each of his last two, allowing 10 tallies in the two tilts. In 19 appearances in calendar 2012 – including six relief efforts – Roloson has surrendered three or more goals 15 times. Tonight marks the sixth starting assignment in the last seven games for Roloson, who might well be in the waning hours of his NHL career. The Caps need to leave him with some unpleasant memories.
The Caps weren’t able to help themselves last night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, missing a chance to grab a point and a chance at a second one when Steven Stamkos netted his 57th goal of the season to break a 2-2 tie with 1:03 left in regulation. So tonight, they’ll turn to the out-of-town