One team will lose their second game of the season tonight, and the Bruins (2-1-0) hope it won’t be them. The B’s travel to the nation’s capital tonight to face off with Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (4-1-0) at the Verizon Center.
To say the B’s haven’t fared well against the Caps lately would be a gross understatement. Boston’s only win over Washington last year came on the very last day of the regular season, in a 4-3 shootout win that helped the B’s leapfrog themselves into the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Caps have gone 7-0-2 against Boston in their last nine meetings, outscoring the B’s 26-16 in that time. Beating the Caps at home has been a tall task for every NHL team lately, as Washington has a 21-2-3 regular season record at the Verizon Center in the 2010 calendar year.
Lots to get to before tonight’s game, so let’s jump right in to the pre-game notes…
- First off, let’s touch on where you’ll find this game on your televisions. Tonight’s matchup is NOT available on NESN… instead, you’ll find it on Versus, beginning at 7:30pm, not the normal 7:00 start time. Check your local listings for Versus, in case you’ve forgotten what channel it is, but by now most of you should get Versus on any cable provider. If you don’t well, hit up your local booze house to catch the game.
- This may come as a slight surprise to some, but Tim Thomas will start his third straight game in the crease for the B’s. Thomas has given up just one goal in his two starts, earning both Bruins wins so far on the young season. As for the skaters, look for Daniel Paille, Brian McGrattan, and Adam McQuaid to be the three healthy scratches for Boston this evening.
- Boston has peppered the opposing goalies at a feverish pace through their first three contests, averaging 38 shots per game so far. That mark is good for a tie atop the league leaders, knotted with the St. Louis Blues.
- Speaking of shots, the shot that Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke laid on Marc Savard still has the Bruins center sidelined with post-concussion syndrome. In some positive news however, Savard was medically cleared to return to skating on Monday, which has to be a good sign that he is making some progress at making his return to action. Savard is on long-term injured reserve, making him ineligible to return to game action for the first ten games of the season. He is still likely at least a month away from cracking the Bruins lineup, as he is still dealing with some symptoms, including depression.
- Turning to tonight’s opponent, the Capitals are dealing with some injuries of their own already. Defensemen Mike Green, Tom Poti, John Carlson, and forward Matt Bradley are all considered day-to-day with various bumps and bruises. Green, Poti, and Bradley all missed the team’s most recent game, a 3-2 overtime win on Saturday.
- After losing their opener to the Atlanta Thrashers, the Caps have won their last four games, with the last three wins all coming by a single goal. Their star forward Alex Ovechkin has at least one point in all five games, and either scored or assisted on all four game-winning goals for the team this season.
- Ovechkin leads the team in points early on (4G, 4A), followed by locally-bred rookie John Carlson (1G, 5A), center Brooks Laich (3G, 2A), and winger Alex Semin (2G, 3A).
- In goal for the Caps, Michal Neuvirth has shouldered the entire workload thus far, winning four of five while posting an impressive 2.16GAA. The team’s other goalie, Semyon Varlamov, has been sidelined with a groin injury, but could return to the lineup as early as this evening.
- Washington is one of just two remaining teams (Florida is the other) that haven’t given up a power play goal yet this season. The Caps are a perfect 21-for-21 on the penalty kill through five games.
- Jumping back to touch on Carlson, the rookie defenseman hails from Natick, Mass. He appeared in 22 games for the Caps last season, scoring one goal and five assists, which happens to be the point totals he’s already achieved through five games this year. The 20-year-old is battling some general soreness, but is likely to suit up for tonight’s contest.
- Washington’s other Massachusetts-born defenseman is 33-year-old Tom Poti. Poti, born in Worcester, grew up playing his hockey at Cushing Academy and at Boston University. Washington is the veteran’s fourth NHL team. He serves as one of the team’s alternate captains.
- The other alternate captain for the Caps also has some ties to the area. Veteran winger Mike Knuble is the only former Bruin on the Caps’ roster, having played for the B’s from 2000-2004. He enters his second season with the Capitals, after spending four seasons with the Flyers.
Tags: Alexander Ovechkin, Boston Bruins, John Carlson, Marc Savard, Michal Neuvirth, Mike Knuble, Tim Thomas, Tom Poti, Washington Capitals