WASHINGTON, DC – After being eliminated in Game 7 against the Washington Capitals in last year’s postseason, the Boston Bruins will be looking to even the score when the two teams face off at the Verizon Center tonight.
Coming off a tough 4-3 loss to the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens Sunday night, the Bruins are looking to turn the page quickly in their third game of a busy March. At the same time, they aren’t getting too worked up about getting revenge from last year’s first round elimination against these same Capitals.
“At some level [it’s a little motivating],” said goaltender Tuukka Rask, who missed the majority of last year’s series due to injury. “That will create a little battle between the two teams.”
The Bruins come in fourth in the Eastern Conference with 30 points. The Caps, meanwhile, are tied for last in the East, along with fellow divisional foe Florida with 17 points, and are eight points behind Tampa Bay in the Southeast.
After the jump, lineup, storylines, linkage and tweets of interest
Gametime: 7 p.m.
Location: Verizon Center
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins (14-3-2, 30 points), Capitals (8-11-1, 17 points)
Bruins’ projected lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Jay Pandolfo-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Caps’ projected lineup
Matt Hendricks-Mike Ribero-Alexander Ovechkin
Eric Fehr-Nicklas Backstrom-Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera-Jay Beagle-Joel Ward
Wojtek Wolski-Mathieu Perrault-Joey Crabb
Karl Alzner-Tomas Kundratek
John Erskine-John Carlson
Jeff Schultz-Tom Poti
Bruins to watch
Over the last two games, the Bruins’ second line has been the best unit. Much of that is evident by Patrice Bergeron being named the second star of the week by the National Hockey League – while also notching Bruins Daily Player of the Week honors – and Brad Marchand continuing his torrid scoring pace. But it also looks like that Tyler Seguin is finally starting to find his scoring groove again, tallying goals in each of his last two games. That is a pleasant sight to see for Bruins fans five games before the midway point of the 2013 season.
On the other hand, the entire Bruins blue-line core will be in the spotlight tonight. Clearly they have struggled over the last few games clearing the puck out of their own end and leaving Tuukka out to dry in some instances. Andrew Ference has been the most turnover prone defenseman on the Black and Gold and is not doing himself any favors trying to sign a new contract. But Boston’s D will need to improve all around against a Caps squad that has seen some improvement in their last 10 games.
“At certain situations, we know that we need to do better,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “I think we are still one of the better team’s in the league [defensively] but we know we need to improve because we know that our standards are pretty high.”
Caps to watch
Of course captain Alex Ovechkin generates a lot of buzz in DC. But the last few seasons he has seen his point totals dip from 109 in 2009-10 to 85 and 65 the last two seasons, respectively. Despite the shortened season, Ovechkin has once again taken a hit offensively tallying just 16 points in 20 games. He does have six points in his last five games, however – that includes a hat trick and an assist against the New Jersey Devils – and has been playing better. That is welcoming sight for Caps fans, at least for the time being.
Meanwhile, Mike Ribero has stepped up to the Caps top line nicely and leads the team in scoring with 24 points. The former Canadien is still vilified in Boston for his diving antics from the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but make no mistake he does have some talent, especially on the power play where he is tied for second in power play points with 13 (five goals, eight assists).
“There’s not too many guys who is as skilled as he is,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who coached Ribero in Montreal. “He can make highlight plays almost every night. He’s got that knack and he has such skill with the puck. And it doesn’t surprise me that he is the leading scorer here.”
The Habs respond to Julien’s postgame comments from Sunday night (James Murphy, ESPN Boston)
Greg Ezell of Days of Y’Orr responds to Steven A. Smith’s blunder on SportsCenter and how the “Worldwide Leader” continues to neglect hockey.
J.P. of Japers Rink reveals “The Noon Number” and how it relates to one Alexander Ovechkin.
Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington discusses why the Caps are getting tougher tonight with their recent call-ups.
Tweets of interest
CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) tweets Claude Julien’s quote about turning the page from the Habs game.
Julien: “I don’t know if there was a lot of chatter about [Habs] game. Lot of chatter about other things. But we turn page onto Washington”
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) March 5, 2013
And SB Nation’s Ted Starkey (@TedStarkey) has a tidbit on the Caps schedule to date.
With tonight’s game, Capitals have just one Eastern team they haven’t played yet, with the Islanders left. They visit Nassau Saturday.
— Ted Starkey (@TedStarkey) March 5, 2013