Confident Bruins look to end long skid against Capitals
The Bruins are a little tired hearing about their 13-game skid against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Who can blame them? After all, they haven’t beaten Alex Ovechkin and company since March 29, 2014, and their first tilt of the season resulted in a 7-0 shellacking on opening night in the nation’s capital.
But Patrice Bergeron and company still have to feel pretty good about themselves as Boston carries a season-long five-game win streak heading into Thursday’s matchup.
“We’re all aware. You guys do a good job reminding us,” Bergeron said during his pregame media availability at Warrior Ice Arena. “Obviously you need to be in the present, but we need to find some desperation against a team like Washington that’s given us a lot of difficulties in the past, and hopefully we can move forward with a big win.”
“Any time you play some good hockey it definitely establishes some confidence,” Bergeron added, “and hopefully you bring that momentum into the game and during the game. So we’re going to try to use that tonight.”
The Bruins are stringing together wins and finding more scoring balance across their four lines. They’ll need that offensive output against Braden Holtby, who carries an astonishing 15-2-0 career record — along with four shutouts, a 1.84 goals-against average and .943 save percentage — against Boston.
Bruce Cassidy’s squad will have a tough task defending Ovechkin, Evgeni Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and a Caps offense that ranks sixth in goals per game (3.48), seventh in goals scored (146) and tenth on the power play (21.5 percent). Stopping Washington’s potent attack and getting to Holtby early can only help things.
Easier said than done, obviously.
“We end up defending and chasing the game and that becomes an issue. They’ve consistently been a good team obviously, so it’s not like we’re attacking them often. Part of it is that we’re chasing the game a lot against them, which just makes it that much more difficult against a good goaltender and they start to smell blood,” Cassidy said.
“The easiest thing to do against a team you haven’t defeated in a long time is to defend really well and to keep [the puck] out of the net as supposed to saying ‘we’re going to outscore them tonight. But listen, I’ll take 6-5, 1-0. It doesn’t matter to me. Let’s get in the win column, but at the end of the day our plan is to be better defensively.”
Boston’s last win against Washington came in the Obama administration. The last thing they need Thursday night is another Capital shut down.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 25-14-4 (54 points), Capitals 26-12-4 (56 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-David Backes
Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari-Chris Wagner
Ryan Donato-Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson-Danton Heinen
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-John Moore
Matt Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller
Capitals projected lines
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeni Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly-Lars Eller-Travis Boyd
Chandler Stephenson-Nic Dowd-Devante Smith-Pelly
Michal Kempny-John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov-Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Jonas Siegenthaler