The Boston Bruins (20-5-6, 46 points) are focused and ready to rebound tonight as the visit the Washington Capitals (22-5-5, 49 points). It’s a battle of the top two teams in the NHL, and the second of three meetings between the sides on the season. The Capitals scored a shootout victory at TD Garden last month. The Bruins have lost three straight games, including two straight in regulation time.
Puck drop is 7:00 pm on NBCSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Turn The Beat Around
The Bruins aren’t used to losing in regulation. Monday night’s loss in Ottawa was just their fifth regulation defeat all season, and their second in a row. It was also the second straight game that the Bruins really weren’t in. Right now, the Bruins are dealing with the grind of an 82-game campaign.
“The ups and downs are good to go through. Like today, we when we can come in here and have a great, positive attitude, I think it will just help us later on when we go through tough times,” Brandon Carlo told the team’s official website. He’s not the only player looking for the positives in a frustrating stretch of games. “I think we’ve had a good season so far and there’s going to be stretches where you’re not going to be up to your standard,” Brett Ritchie told reporters.
“But I think we’re pretty confident that we can turn it around quick and there’s no point in dwelling on one game, two games. I think you just try and reset each day and (Tuesday) we tried to have a little extra fun and make sure everybody was positive,” Ritchie continued.
Bruce Cassidy has had his finger on the pulse of the Bruins since the second he took the job in February, 2017. Yesterday was no different. “Today was a little looser day, we talked about a couple of things before practice,” he began after practice on Tuesday. “Listen, our record is very good, but we’ve got to get back to enjoying our game a little more while taking care of business and balancing the two. We all are aware – every man in that room, all the coaches know – we’re not playing to our standard every night.”
The Bruins will have to be up to their standard over the next 48 hours if they want to snap the streak. After tonight’s battle in Washington, they head to Tampa Bay to face the Lightning tomorrow night.
A Similar Spot
The Capitals haven’t lost three straight, but they are coming off of an extremely disappointing showing on Monday night. Washington was throttled 5-2 at home by the Columbus Blue Jackets. That loss came on the heels of the Capitals sweeping their three-game California road trip for the first time. It snapped an overall six-game winning streak for the Capitals.
“Everyone can beat everyone if you don’t have your best day,” Nicklas Backstrom told reporters on Monday night. “But Columbus is good, they’re a good hockey team. But that’s not the way we want to play, that’s for sure.”
The Capitals, like the Bruins, are looking to turn the page tonight in Washington. “It’s ironic how neither team was happy with the game going into (Wednesday) night’s showdown,” Todd Reirden said. “So that adds a little bit of extra incentive to it, I guess, from both of our ends. But it’s a long season, and there are going to be some ebbs and flows to what goes on. We weren’t happy with how we played. We met (Tuesday) and are moving forward with how things go (Wednesday).”
Reirden also had high praise for his opponent, one that pushed his Capitals to the brink on November 16th. “They’re a tremendous team and a great challenge. Just outstanding players and well-coached. It should be a good game.”
Inside The Numbers
This matchup has been a total nightmare for the Bruins. Prior to last season’s Super Bowl Sunday victory in Washington, the Bruins had dropped 14 straight meetings with the Capitals. That losing streak dated all the way back to March 29th, 2014. The Bruins’ shootout loss almost a month ago makes it 15 out of 16 games in the series won by the Capitals. It has been total domination.
Overall this decade, the Capitals are 29-12-0 against the Bruins and won the lone playoff series between the sides in seven games in 2012. The sliver lining here? In Boston’s last trip to Washington, Tuukka Rask shut the Capitals out. He stopped 24 shots while David Krejci scored the lone goal in the win.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
John Moore – Matt Grzelcyk
As always, lineup is subject to change. Following the game-day skate, Cassidy told the media that he hadn’t decided if Connor Clifton would drawback in to give John Moore a breather with the Bruins playing again tomorrow night. David Backes rotated in on the third line, occasionally taking Ritchie’s spot on right wing. Halak is the expected goaltender tonight, as Rask played on Monday. The Bruins are opening a back-to-back set and it stands to reason that each goalie will get one start. Par Lindholm will be scratched while Karson Kuhlman and Zach Senyshyn remain on IR.
Washington Capitals Lines
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin – Lars Eller – Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic – Nic Dowd – Garnet Hathaway
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov – Nick Jensen
Jonas Siegenthaler – Radko Gudas