Photo: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images
The Capitals might just have a new rivalry brewing with the Boston Bruins. The last time the Capitals faced the Bruins was in their Opening Night, 7-0 win. And while the Capitals were certainly happy about how the game went, Boston appeared frustrated throughout the game.
This was very evident when, in the 7-0 trouncing, Boston’s Brad Marchand took exception to Lars Eller’s goal at the end of the game and proceeded to grab and punch an unsuspecting Eller in the head. Unsurprisingly, that game left a bad taste in both teams’ mouths leading to their second meeting this season. What appears to be bugging Boston is they simply can’t seem to figure out how to beat the Capitals, as they have officially lost their last 14 games against Washington and have been outscored 45-21.
Meanwhile, both teams are fighting for top spots in highly-competitive, Eastern Conference divisions, making every point crucial to making it back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Tonight’s game was a tough one, as the two teams battled tooth and nail for two points. Marchand, however, wanted no part in a rematch when Eller offered to drop the gloves. The rest of game was filled with lots of big hits, but the scoring was much closer than when the two teams last met.
The game went back and forth through three periods. The Capitals were heavily outshot throughout the game, but Jakub Vrana managed to squeak one past the netminder Bruins’ Jaroslav Halák to put the Capitals on the board first. Recently, Vrana has been absolutely on fire and currently has the second most goals on the team trailing only Alex Ovechkin. This streak has elevated him to a top six forward this season and keeping him in the line-up every night, as opposed to having to fight for a spot like many of the Capitals bottom six right now.
But despite the Capitals hard work and consistent five on five scoring the Bruins clung on the whole game and it seemed like every time the Capitals would pull ahead the Bruins would climb right back in.
Ovechkin and Backstrom also scored for the Capitals trying to keep the team in the lead. But late in the second things got nasty again as the two teams once again exchanged questionable hits. When asked after the game if this seemed more like a street brawl than a hockey game T.J. Oshie said, “My face would suggest that.”
This led to back to back power plays for each squad. But it seemed Tom Wilson was able to keep the peace on the ice by being a physical presence when Boston’s instigators start getting out of control.
But hockey rivals linger, and players remember the hits and losses long after fans forget. The Bruins and Capitals will meet once more this regular season on February 2nd. Tune in then to see if the Capitals can keep the streak going.
By Charlie DiPasquale