Bruins travel to DC eying Northeast Division title
All that’s left for the Boston Bruins to accomplish in the 2013 NHL regular season is their third straight Northeast Division title. With a game in hand on the Montreal Canadiens, whom they are currently tied with atop the division, the Black and Gold will look to take advantage of that opportunity beginning tonight when they take on the Southeast Division champion Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center.
A win and a Habs loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs (in regulation or overtime) would give the B’s the Northeast, while a Montreal victory and a Boston loss in regulation would give the Canadiens the division tonight. If both teams still are tied by the end of the night, or if the Bruins get one point and the Habs win, then Boston would still have a chance to clinch tomorrow in its season finale against the Ottawa Senators.
The Bruins, who clinched home ice in the first round Thursday night, are hoping to build off a solid 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’ll have to do so, however, without Jaromir Jagr, who’s out with the flu, and Nathan Horton, who’s still day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
But, even though the Caps have nothing else to play for – having already clinch the third seed in the Eastern Conference – Boston knows this will be a tough challenge.
“I think this is going to be a big test,” said forward Daniel Paille, who scored his 10th goal of the season during the second period of Thursday’s victory. “The big thing for us is we’ve been talking about consistency.”
That consistency hasn’t been seen in The Hub of Hockey for the past month and a half. But if there’s ever a time to regain that consistent, 60-minute effort – like they did on Thursday night – now is the time to do so.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
Location: Verizon Center
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins (28-13-5, 61 points), Capitals (26-18-3, 55 points)
Bruins’ projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Rich Peverley
Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Kaspars Daugavins
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Wade Redden-Adam McQuaid
Capitals’ projected lineup
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Alexander Ovechkin
Martin Erat-Mike Ribeiro-Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera-Mathieu Perrault-Eric Fehr
Aaron Volpatti-Matt Hendricks-Jay Beagle
Karl Alzner-Mike Green
John Erskine-John Carlson
Jack Hillen-Steven Olesky
Bruins to watch
While he didn’t appear on the scoresheet Thursday night, Milan Lucic is getting back to basics. The sixth-year forward led all skaters with four hits and dropped the gloves with Keith Aullie in the second period Thursday night. Even if he doesn’t tally a goal, that’s a sight Bruins fans want to see out of Lucic, and its something that Claude Julien hopes to see again, too.
“Milan is known for that. He’s known when he’s at his best, he puts a lot of fear in other players on other teams with his forecheck and finishing checks after that,” Julien said after the victory over Tampa. “When being challenged, he handled himself pretty well, so there’s no doubt our guys will feed off of that stuff. It doesn’t mean he has to go out there and fight every night, he just has to play hard the way he’s been doing lately and things are starting to come around for him.”
Caps to watch
One of the perks as a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association is the voting of the NHL Awards. In full disclosure, my pick for the Hart Trophy is Alexander Ovechkin.
It’s no secret that Ovechkin is the Capitals’ biggest threat since the second half of the season. In that span, the Russian has tallied 34 of his 54 points (32 goals, 22 assists) on the year and has four goals and two assists in the last three games. It’s safe to say that he’s answered some doubters with his second half run as Adam Oates has him, and the other 19 Caps, playing their best hockey of the year. Whether that carries over to the playoffs remains to be seen, but without Ovechkin, would Washington even be in the postseason?
CSNNE discusses how the Bruins can finish the season on a high note.
Days of Y’Orr takes us through “A Day in the Life of Shawn Thornton”
Japers Rink posts their latest installment of “Capital Ideas“.
Tweets of interest
Despite the injuries to Jagr and Horton, Dave Goucher expects the Bruins to have all hands on deck.
Expect #Bruins to have all hands on deck tonight, try to wrap up 2nd seed and then deal with tomorrow.
— Dave Goucher (@DavidCGoucher) April 27, 2013
Bruins Daily supporter Ted Starkey has some updated stats on the Caps’ likely opponents for the first round.
Per Sports Club Stats, the Caps’ most likely opponent is still the Senators, with OTT at 49.3, NYR at 39.3, TOR at 8 and NYI at 3.4.
— Ted Starkey (@TedStarkey) April 27, 2013