Monday, April 5, 2010

PreCAP (4/5/10)

(Photo from Yahoo)

The Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals face off tonight in the Verizon Center at 7PM; this is the first of two games in the last week of NHL regular season action between the Bruins and the Caps.

The Washington Capitals, through a 5-4 OT San Jose Sharks loss to the Colorado Avalanche, clinched the Presidents' Trophy, awarded to the team with the best regular season record. Yes, that means that no other team in the NHL can match this Capitals team's record this season.

Along with a nice trophy, the Presidents' Trophy awards a $350,000 to the Capitals organization as well as guaranteeing home-ice advantage for the Caps for the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Tonight's game is essentially meaningless for the Caps; however, the same cannot be said for the opposing Boston Bruins.

The Bruins are, put simply, fighting for their playoff lives. There are 5 teams (The New York Rangers, Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, and the Montreal Canadiens) fighting for 3 playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Currently, the Bruins, Flyers, and Canadiens occupy those spots, with the Rangers and Thrashers not far behind. With only a week left in the regular season, every single point is crucial for the Bruins at the moment.

However, the Bruins are by far outmatched against the Capitals. What will determine wether or not the Bruins go home empty handed or with points is the play of Finnish rookie goalie, Tuukka Rask (see photo above). Rask is the only reason the battered, injured Bruins are even talked about in the same sentence as the word "playoffs" this season, especially after the collapse of 5-million dollar, reigning Vezina Trophy winner, goalie Tim Thomas. Without the emergence of Rask, the Bruins would be absolutely screwed this season.

The Capitals game plan should be the following; get the puck, keep the puck, and shoot the puck as often as you can. Also, hope Rask is off his game tonight. Really, after the season-ending concussion-causing head-shot hit on Marc Savard by Pittsburgh Penguins player Matt Cooke, the Bruins lost the remains of what little offensive power they had this year. Put simply, seven Caps (Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Knuble, Laich, Fleischmann, Fehr) have more goals than any Bruins player. Defenseman Mike Green, with 19 goals this season, would rank #2 on the Bruins in goal scoring. Not much to talk about there.

Some thoughts on tonight's game.....
  • Alexander Ovechkin is in a scoring slump, there's no way around that. But, as Alex put it, "The goals are coming." Will tonight be the night?
  • The other Alex, Alexander Semin, has been very hot recently. Will the streak continue?
  • Jose Theodore was fantastic against Columbus, will his hot streak also continue?
  • Mike Green is 1 goal away from 20.... will he do it?
  • Meanwhile, Nicklas Backstrom is 8 points away from 100. Its a bit of a stretch for Nicky, but he can definitely do it.
  • The Capitals, as a team, are 7 goals away from 300, by far the best in the NHL. Will tonight push them close, or even maybe push them over???
Well, the game starts a 7PM. Tonight's game actually is broadcast nation-wide by Versus, so it will not be on Comcast Sports Network. Check local listings. As always, fairly-close-to-live tweets from Musings of a Caps Fan @musings_scores! Also, check out the latest poll.


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