May: Don't read too much into Caps' loss in Tampa

Chris Lingebach
March 19, 2019 - 8:40 pm
May: Don't read too much into Caps' loss in Tampa

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning will be runaway Presidents' Trophy winners at regular-season's end.

With 116 points on the season and nine games to go, the Lightning have a whopping 21-point lead over the next closest team in the standings

The Capitals are all too familiar with the pressure that comes with this honor. As three-time Presidents' Trophy recipients (2009-10, 2015-16, 2016-17), they never once in those seasons advanced past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Heavy lies the crown.

But the pressure of following up a Presidents' Trophy with the Stanley Cup is overblown, Caps analyst Alan May told The Junkies during The Morning Skate, presented by D.C. Lottery

"I think people get way too caught up in that, that it's a bad thing," he said. "It's not a bad thing to be your best every night. Tampa's been – I applaud them for being their best every game, trying to be their best, trying to decimate the league. You've got to carry that through the playoffs."

"The one psychological advantage you have when you're going into the playoffs, though, is everyone starts with the same record," he said. "Say you lose the first game, say you don't get the penalties, you take too many penalties, your team's too amped up – now that other team that wins, the No. 8 seed, Tampa's gonna play the eight-seed – all of a sudden that team's got a lot of belief in themselves."

"To be a pro athlete and to be a winning team, you've got to lie to yourself a lot," he continued. "You've got to tell yourself you're better than you are and you've got to believe in yourself. And after a while, you believe those lies, that's what you become.

"I think every pro athlete, every guy that's ever done well, you've got to be your biggest fan and you've got to propel yourself to places that people never thought you could go, or your team could go. And you lose the first game, all of a sudden it's on."

"I still like the chances of Presidents' Trophy winners," May went on to say. "I think it's one in every four – when you go back to '86, whatever the numbers are. That's 32 years, so it's been eight teams that have won the Presidents' Trophy.

"That's still a 25 percent chance of winning the Cup. It means you're a pretty good team and, as long as you get your confidence early in the playoffs and don't face a hot goalie, you should be able to win the Stanley Cup. So I'd rather be the better team than the worst team. I'd rather be 1 than 8 going into a playoff series."

As for the Caps' 6-3 loss in Tampa on Saturday, May says fans shouldn't read too much into that, either. It was the first time the two teams have met since the Caps eliminated Tampa in seven games in last year's Eastern Conference Final. They meet again on Wednesday in Washington, and once more before the end of the regular season.

"Just another game on March 16. I think a lot of people put a little too much stock into it," May said. "It was a big game, it was important, I guess, to Tampa Bay, who didn't win the Stanley Cup last year. The Caps, I thought they kind of went in there wanting to see what Tampa was all about and if Tampa's doing some things different than they did last year."

"They played more physical than they have, because the Caps absolutely decimated in that seven-game series last year," he said. "(Tampa) didn't want to touch the puck in Games 6 or 7.

"Tampa came out and played physical. I thought the Caps kind of skated backwards a little bit in the first period, at least the first 10 minutes to get their bearings. And Tampa got one really nice goal to start the game about 10 minutes in, and they got a very lucky game to make it 2-to-nothing, but I thought the Caps kind of figured them out the rest of the way."

"I think we'll see a lot different game tomorrow night," he added, "because I thought a lot of guys were acting like home-ice tough guys in Tampa, and we'll see how tough they are when they're in Capital One. The Caps are gonna have a little bit on their mind about all these guys who were pushing and shoving after the whistles, the late hits, the questionable hits, and I think you're gonna see a lot different Capitals team Wednesday night."

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