Caps in Beantown - Holtby in, Burky back out
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The 26-12-4 Washington Capitals make a quick one-game stop on the road tonight in Boston to face a 25-14-4 Bruins team that has won 7 of 9 and are riding a current 4-game winning streak. The Caps will look to maintain their top position in the Metro Division while their Eastern Conference counterpart Boston is locked in a battle with Montreal and Toronto in the Atlantic Division currently sitting 3rd.
The Caps have absolutely owned the Bruins recently with a current 13-game winning streak against the boys from Beantown and dominated them in the first game of the regular season this year with a 7-0 win to celebrate the Cup banner raising.
In that game, there was an incident with Brad Marchand and Lars Eller that I feel could be further addressed tonight. Marchand, claiming he was upset over Eller celebrating too much after a goal in the blowout game, attacked the Caps forward and engaged in fight Eller wanted no part of. Many on the Washington side of the fence where less the thrilled at the antics of the seemingly unhinged Marchand, albeit who is a helluva a player. It will be interesting to see if Tom Wilson decides to engage with the smaller Marchand and see if he like being pounded on like Eller.
The Bruins are coming off a 4-0 home win over Minnesota on Tuesday night as Tuuka Rask made 24 saves for his 12th win of the year. It has been an up and down year for the veteran goaltender but in his last five starts, he is 4-0 allowing only five goals stopping 113 shots and looks to be regaining his form. However, it will be an old friend and foe Jaroslav Halak getting the nod from B’s coach Bruce Cassidy. Halak sits fifth in the NHL with a 2.36 GAA.
Braden Holtby will get the start for Washington as he looks to further his dominance over the Bruins.
The Capitals have won 2 in a row after halting a four-game losing slide and are coming off their own 5-3 home win over Philadelphia on Tuesday as well. Tom Wilson scored his 13th of the year in that game and now is only one away from a new career high and sits only 14 points back of a career high. He’s done this all in 23 games! It really is unbelievable, though many in DC knew Wilson could play with the good players, but not sure any expected this output.
Winners of 15 of their last 16 vs the Eastern Conference, the Capitals are still proving to be arguably the best team in the East all due respect to TB’s of the world and haven’t lost a road game vs an Eastern opponent in the last eight games.
While he has started practicing, star defenseman Charlie McAvoy will not dress for Boston tonight as he is still recovering from an injury that has had him miss the last six games with an infection in his foot. Good for the Capitals, but not for entertainment as McAvoy is one of the better young defenders in the game today. The Caps will have to be ready for one of the best lines in hockey with Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak combining for 137 points with Pastrnak leading the way with 52 placing him thirteenth in the NHL and his 25 goals good for eighth spot.
Andre Burakovsky is still struggling to find traction. He will be scratched again today in a move that has to be getting frustrating for the coach.
Madison Bowey and Dmitrij Jaskin will also sit out.
Washington will have to look to score against a stingy squad as the Bruins don’t give you a lot. They have allowed only 2.56 goals against with only Nashville bettering them in goals allowed per game. Additionally, nobody has allowed as little 5 on 5 goals as the B’s so far with only 66 being scored against them while skating even strength.
Alex Ovechkin has 47 points in 42 games and continues to pace the Capitals scoring attack while leading the NHL with 30 goals.
We all know about the Caps power play issues lately although Jakub Vrana did score a PP goal in the last game vs Philadelphia. The Bruins, on the other hand, are doing just fine as they boast he number-three rated PP in the league scoring at a 28.5% clip. Washington’s PK units will be tested, though the best strategy is just to avoid taking bad penalties, something the Caps have struggled with this season at times. Just in their last 34 opportunities, they have cashed in 13 times.
Game time is 7:00 PM EST from TD Garden Arena.
TJ Oshie recorded his 200th career goal in the win over Philadelphia.
In 2014-15 Braden Holtby was 3-0 vs the Bruins with… 3 shutouts!