Game Day Preview: Bruins at Capitals
While the Boston Bruins have won five in a row, Wednesday night will be another stiff test as they face off against a Washington Capitals team (and goaltender) that has given them trouble in both meetings this season.
The Bruins haven’t played since Saturday night where they outlasted the Toronto Maple Leafs in a shootout, 2-1. Patrice Bergeron was the difference-maker in this one as he scored in regulation and in the shootout to lift Claude Julien’s team to another crucial win.
The Capitals have cruised to a 7-2-1 record over their last 10 games and all of a sudden are in second place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Caps won both meetings this season against the Black and Gold thanks to goalie Braden Holtby, who has a combined 61 saves and two shutouts vs. Boston this season.
With the playoff picture still up for grabs in the East, this game could not be much bigger for the hometown team.
On the injury front, Dougie Hamilton will not travel with the team on this mini three-game road trip.
Here is your complete Bruins-Capitals Preview:
Gametime: 8:00 PM
Records: Bruins 41-25-13 (94 points)/Capitals 44-25-11 (99 points)
TV/Radio: NBCSN, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Location: Verizon Center
Bruins’ projected lines:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson
Chris Kelly-Ryan Spooner-Brett Connolly
Gregory Campbell-Carl Soderberg-Reilly Smith
Zdeno Chara-Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug-Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Bartkowski-Zach Trotman
Capitals’ projected lines:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Joel Ward
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Troy Brouwer
Curtis Glencross-Brooks Laich-Jason Chimera
Andre Burakovsky-Michael Latta-Stanislav Gailev
Brooks Orpik-John Carlson
Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen
Tim Gleason-Mike Green
Who to watch for Bruins: Matt Bartkowski
Many B’s fans are calling for Bartkowski’s benching and rightfully so as he continues to struggle in his own end. The mistakes are piling up and at this juncture in the season, miscues could cost a team their season. But with the B’s winners of five in a row, why change?
In 128 career games with the B’s, Bartkowski has yet to score a regular season goal. In his 44 games played this season, the 26-year-old blue liner has just four assists while sporting a minus-5 rating, which is second worst on the team.
Over his last three games, Bartkowski sports a minus-3 rating in 54 shifts. He has only recorded three shots in those games. Julien has pulled the trigger on benching him in-game, which is the only thing he can do as of now.
It will be interesting in the final three games to see if Bartkowski can make a difference. Otherwise, he might be the odd man out on the B’s blue line if Hamilton returns in time for the postseason (if the B’s make it).
Who to watch for Capitals: Alex Ovechkin
It is tough to ignore Ovechkin in any way. He leads the NHL in goals with 52, he is second in total points with 80, he’s first in power-play goals with 24, he’s first in game-winning goals with 11 and he’s first in shots on net with 389. In his last five games, the Russian superstar has seven points on five goals and two assists while throwing 23 shots on net.
During his last game against Boston, Ovechkin just had four shots on net with no points, but that is an aberration. In his career against the Black and Gold (35 games), he has 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists). Zdeno Chara and company must slow down one of the best pure goal scorers in the league and it will have to be a team effort.
Game Day Edge: To quote the late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis: “Just win baby.”