In fact this game is SO big, the Capitals called up AHL goal scorer Oskar Osala today just to make it that much bigger. OK, maybe not for that reason alone, but nonetheless tonight's game is pretty big.
In the red corner you have the Washington Capitals, leading the weakest division in the NHL, and in the yellow corner the roaring Bruins who are 14-1-1 in their last 16 games.
Bahston Bruins (19-4-4, last game 5-3 win over Tampa Bay)
The story so far...
Guess what? Flash is injured! With Osala called up to take his place, and the wounded beginning to skate, the size of this game takes shape. You have a Capitals team depleted by injury facing a team that has been running over opponents. Ovechkin will likely be checked by Zdeno Chara, but the true blow to the team is Flash's injury. Flash has been a solid second-line scorer and if he is absent tonight the second line loses some fire power. Once again, it will be up to the first line and some secondary scoring from the third and fourth lines.
WSH: Brooks Laich
Things could get ugly or rather things should get ugly, that is in front of the net. The Capitals need to screen Bruins' goalie Tim Thomas effectively and Laich is the man to do it. He has seven points against the Bruins in 12 games, and his role on the powerplay will be highlighted tonight. Laich almost had a goal in Toronto crashing the net, and if the Capitals want to take control of the game players such as Laich will need to crash the net and put in the garbage goal.
BAH: Marc Savard
Seven goals and 35 assists in 42 games against the Capitals? Yeah, someone's gotta check this guy. Savard leads the Bruins in points and assists and, given his past history against the Caps, will likely be a go-to guy. Where Boston has Chara to check Ovechkin, the Capitals need to find someone who can stymie Savard's ability to make a play. Looking at you, Alzner.
Well isn't that special
The Bruins are the fifth best powerplay in the league and have the ninth best PK. The Caps powerplay has improved to eighth but the PK, well, it's fallen to 25th.
For Washington you have Brent Johnson getting the start, his seventh against the Bruins. Johnson has started every bout in his career against the Bruins (6) and has a record of 2-3-0-1 with a 2.94 GAA. In Boston's net you have Tim Thomas, who is 8-1-1 against the Capitals with a 2.41 GAA. Thomas is currently leads the NHL in GAA with a 1.90.
The Bruins' Phil Kessel is beginning to become the player they hoped he would be when they drafted him fifth overall in 2006. Kessel has 17 goals this season and eight assists for 25 points. His previous seasons? In '07-'08 he played 80 games for 19 goals and 18 asssits. In '06-'07 he played 70 games for 11 goals and 18 assists.
Milan the Monster
No not Milan Jurcina, Milan Lucic. Lucic has gained a reputation as team tough guy, starting 13 fights last season but only losing one. The winner of that bout? John Erskine, who broke his nose. Let's relive that.
But more on Lucic. Here at CK, we love hits that send players through the boards, and one such hit was delievered by Lucic this season on Toronto's Mike Van Ryn.
Top 10 ways to embarrass yourself
"Last year a nosebleed ticket was 10 dollars, now it's 15 dollars, so...that's gotta mean something."
The Big Bad Bruins
The Bruins, like the Flyers, have a history of fielding tough teams. Many wonder if this current Bruins team is a return to the bruising style of play the team embraced in the 70s and 80s.
Like I wasn't going to show this
LET'S GO CAPS!