Coming off an impressive 2-0 win over the New York Rangers at the Verizon Center two nights ago, the Capitals are gearing up for a Saturday matinée against the Boston Bruins at 3:00 P.M. EST on NBC.
The Bruins (44-30-7) come into this game having clinched a spot in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. They sit third in the Atlantic Division with 95 points, one point behind the Ottawa Senators for second place. The Bruins come into this game having gone 3-0-1 in their last four games and having scored three or more goals in those four games. They are led in scoring by Brad Marchand (39 goals, 46 assists), who has been suspended two games by the NHL for spearing Tampa Bay defenseman Jake Dotchin on Tuesday, and will not be playing in the B’s final two games (including tomorrow’s matchup against the Capitals). Per the Bruins’ official Twitter account, Boston Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has announced that backup goaltender Anton Khudobin will be the starter for tomorrow’s game.
The Bruins’ special teams have been among their biggest strengths this season, as their power play ranks seventh with a success rate of 21.90%, and their penalty kill has been even better, leading the league with a kill rate of 85.50%. They are led in power play scoring by defenseman Torey Krug, with 25 points (six goals, 19 assists). Per Cassidy, Krug will also not play in tomorrow’s game due to a lower-body injury.
The Capitals (54-18-8) come into this game having won nine of their last 10 games, including having won three straight. As mentioned above, the Capitals are coming off an impressive 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers, a win that clinched them the Metropolitan Division for the second consecutive season, the President’s Trophy for the second consecutive season, and earned them home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Caps are just two wins away from matching last year’s 56-18-8 record (56 wins would tie the franchise record set last season). The Capitals are led in scoring by underrated center Nicklas Backstrom (85 points), and are led in goals by Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie, who are tied with 33 apiece.
The Capitals’ special teams are also some of their strong points, as their power play ranks third with a success rate of 23.60%, while their penalty kill is seventh with a kill rate of 84.0%. They are led in power play scoring by Backstrom (eight goals, 27 assists) and are led in power play goals by Ovechkin, who has 17, tied for first with two other players in the league. After missing the last two games due to a lower-body injury, defenseman John Carlson will not make the trip to Boston and right winger Brett Connolly is also remaining behind due to an illness, per CSN MidAtlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir. Defenseman Taylor Chorney will play in one of the team’s final two games of the regular season and winger Paul Carey will replace Connolly in Boston, according to Head Coach Barry Trotz.
LAST TIME WE MET
In the first two games played against the Bruins this season, the Capitals have come out victorious in both, by scores of 4-3 in overtime in early December, and 5-3 in early February, respectively. The Capitals have averaged 4.50 goals per game and 3.00 goals against per game, and have outscored the Bruins by a score of 9-6.
- In the Capitals’ most recent meeting, Backstrom had one goal and two assists in the team’s aforementioned 5-3 win. In his career, Backstrom has 34 points (six goals, 28 assists) in 30 games played against Boston.
- Boston’s David Pastrnak has four points (one goal, three assists) in five games played against the Capitals in his short NHL career.
- Capitals netminder Braden Holtby has been a Bruins killer in his NHL career, as he possesses a record of 11-2-0 in 13 games played against Boston, with a .945 save percentage, 1.80 goals-against average, and three shutouts).
- Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy coached the Capitals from 2002-04, compiling a record of 47-47-9-7 (including ties) in 110 games behind the Washington bench.
By Michael Fleetwood