With Alexander Ovechkin back in the line up and the Bruins still trying to find their feet, today’s match up should prove to be an entertaining pre-Superbowl game. In Ovechkin’s debut back from a 3-game suspension after his high hit on Zbynek Michalek on January 22, he only managed to register one shot on goal, not all that outstanding for one of the best players in the League. In fact, in the 48 games he has played in, he has only registered 20 goals, just one more than the young sophomore superstar Tyler Seguin.
In the last 19 games the Capitals have played one home game, that being against the Boston Bruins on January 5 which they won 5-3 with forward Mathieu Perreault netting his first NHL hat trick. Washington is returning home after a 1-1-1 road trip, broken up by the annual All-Star Game and coming off of a 3-0 shut-out win against the Montreal Canadiens.
While the Bruins lost their second straight game last night to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Claude Julien was impressed with what he saw in his team, noting that there is still room for improvement:
“I thought we played a lot harder than we had [in previous games], and it’s like anything else – when you’re struggling, you don’t just come out the next night and everything is fixed.”(Boston Bruins Official Site-Stronger Effort For Bruins)
The positives came from the defensive end of things with their back check showing immense improvement as well as their positioning in the defensive zone. Not only that, but the most shots on goal came from the defensive lines, something that you don’t want to get in a habit of. What the Bruins need is to take those hash mark shots and crash the net for rebounds to create more opportunities, they need to get the body out in front and have more forwards taking shots.
The Krejci-Lucic-Peverley line is going to have to step it up big time in order for the Bruins to have a shot at a victory over the Capitals, registering only a shot a piece in an entire sixty minutes, isn’t going to cut the mustard. In fact, with those statistics they don’t even stand a chance in the Play-off run. (Those stats look bad even on paper) We’re going to need to see a lot more of Lucic crashing the net and making himself present on rebounds in order to get the stick on it and create some scoring chances.
What about the two-on-one breakaway opportunities? We used to see those happen every game if not multiple times a game between Seguin-Marchand and Lucic-Horton. As long as the Bruins can make good, clean passes through the neutral zone and use their speed to push the defensemen back, they should be able to force some great scoring opportunities.
The Bruins have gone ten straight games without entering the third period with a lead and are 4-5-1 in those ten games. For a team that is known for their outstanding third period efforts, they need to step it up and start playing like defending champs. We’ve seen it in the last two games against Carolina and Pittsburgh, they get down by more than a goal and it’s like a switch goes off and they shut down. They expect their team mates to pick up their slack. The only way they are going to win this game is if everyone starts pulling their own weight and puts forth the effort it takes to win. They need to make good, crisp, tape-to-tape passes and watch the turn overs in the neutral zones. Currently Boston is holding a comfortable 5-point lead over Ottawa and losing would keep them that much further from catching up with the Rangers.(Currently holding 1st in the League with a 3-point lead over Boston)
While it is unknown if there will be any additions to the injury list for today’s game or who will get the nod in net, one can assume that each and every bruised up Bruin will be out on the ice seeking revenge against the Caps, not only to even out the score, but to prove to their fans that they are capable and worthy of being Stanley Cup Champions again.