Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preview: Capitals @ Bruins

Washington Capitals @ Boston Bruins

Washington: 4-2-0, 8 points
Leading scorer: Alex Ovechkin, 4-4-8 in 6 GP
Tied Fenwick% last season: 51.1%
Notable injuries/illnesses: D Mike Green, G Michal Neuvirth
Probable starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov (19-4-7, 2.52, .911 career)
Player to watch: W Alex Ovechkin

Boston: 3-1-0, 6 points
Leading scorer: Nathan Horton, 3-3-6 in 4 GP, and David Krejci, 1-5-6 in 4 GP
Tied Fenwick% last season: 53.4%
Notable injuries/illnesses: C Marc Savard, W Marco Sturm, D Andrew Ference
Probable starting goalie: Tuukka Rask
Player to watch: C David Krejci

Time for revenge.

1) Can the Caps match up? No Savard, no problem. The Bruins send out Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Tyler Seguin down the middle on forward lines 1-3, with pretty solid wingers too. If the Caps' top lines can't get anything going, we'll be in for a long night of being dominated. Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich played pretty well on Tuesday; let's hope that continues, with some tangible production this time around.

2) Will the top line gel? Claude Julien in Washington tried to go power versus power against the Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble line, trotting out Nathan Horton-David Krejci-Milan Lucic against them. In Boston, with the last change, Julien should be able to do the same, and add Zdeno Chara on the blueline. Yikes. We know Alex Ovechkin can dominate anyone--the question is if he decides to or not. If he does, Tuukka Rask better watch out.

3) Will the special teams be 'specially good? The Caps' PK so far is at 100% and the PP has been fairly inconsistent. The Bruins look like the slightly better team at even strength, so the Capitals can't afford a clunker from their special teams units. No o-fer on the PP would help a lot.

4) Can the Capitals, you know, actually play well? The Caps went 4-1, and I gave them a C for the first five games, in large part because of a negative Fenwick and unimpressive scoring chance ratios. Let's see some better hockey, boys. Two nights ago you were better, but you were also outplaying Boston when trailing (score effects), the expected result. Let's see you come out strong in the first and dominate with the score tied.

5) Which Caps goalie shows up? If Varlamov starts, it will be his first since returning from injury, and the last few times he's returned from injury he's not been too impressive in his first game back. He was solid two nights ago, but he throughout his career has been exceptional in relief. Let's see how he does when starting. Boston plays a disciplined system and the Capitals will be hard-pressed to overcome a large deficit against Boston, so they can't afford any softies against.

Capitals 4, Bruins 1.

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