On Monday the Caps took a slow start and turned it into a comeback (where have we seen that movie before), but eventually fell in the shootout to the Lightning. That one point puts them firmly in third place in the round-robin standings, with Tampa leading the way at a perfect 2-0-0 and the Bruins failing to get a point through their first two games.
So here we are - the final game of the round-robin tournament. And with the Caps not exactly showing their best stuff through the first two games, they find themselves battling it out just to finish third out of four. Do that, and they take on the Islanders in the first round; lose, and they drop to fourth and a date with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Let’s break it down one more time.
Season Series: Caps 2-1-0
November 16, 2019 - Caps 3, Bruins 2 (SO)
A typically feisty and close affair between the Caps and Bs heads to the shootout, where Jakub Vrana earns the game-winner with this insane toe-drag:
December 11, 2019 - Caps 3, Bruins 2
It was the T.J. Oshie show (play “Country Roads”!) as the Caps’ winger struck twice, and John Carlson potted his 12th goal of the season for the eventual game-winner.
December 23, 2019 - Caps 3, Bruins 7
In perhaps one of the worst games the team played in the 2019-20 season, the Caps faced an opponent they’ve historically owned and proceeded to give up seven goals on just 17 shots. Yikes.
- 1990 Eastern Conference Final: Bruins win, 4-0
- 1998 Conference Quarterfinals: Capitals win, 4-2
- 2012 Conference Quarterfinals: Capitals win, 4-3
Three Boston Players to Watch
- Tuukka Rask: Rask will be in net this afternoon for the Bruins, and while he was between the pipes for the Bruins’ last win against the Caps, historically this has not been a matchup that’s worked in his favor. In fact, that pre-Christmas win was just his third career win against Washington in 20 tries, and his save percentage of .892 is the third-lowest against any team in the NHL (and the lowest of any Eastern Conference foe).
- Brad Marchand: There may be no greater pest in the NHL than Marchand, and the Caps are certainly familiar with his antics. Given their penchant for taking penalties, however, they’d be wise to ignore him (or at least balance it out with their own pest-y ways). And of course, aside from his ability to get teams off their game by being a pain in the butt, he’s also a pretty damn good hockey player, and was sixth in points when the NHL hit the pause button back in March.
- David Pastrnak: Tom Wilson’s biggest fan is also a potent goal-scorer in his own right, as evidenced by the fact that he tied Alex Ovechkin in goals this season. Like the rest of the Boston offense, he’s been kept pretty quiet so far through two round-robin games - but as with all high-powered scorers, that can only last so long. Beware the breakout game.
- Bruins power play: 25.2% (2nd)
- Capitals penalty kill: 82.6% (6th)
- Bruins penalty kill: 84.3% (3rd)
- Capitals power play: 19.4% (17th)
One of the Caps’ last games of calendar year 2019 was a rare - and rather lopsided - loss to the Bruins right before Christmas. That marked just the second time in the last 18 games that the Bruins managed to beat the good guys, and put a bit of a damper on end-of-year festivities. What does that mean for today’s game? Well... not much, really, because it’s been almost eight months and neither team is playing particularly well so far since the round-robin tournament got underway.
Still, despite that loss, the Caps do have history on their side. And they know what happens if they win and if they lose... although your guess is as good as ours which team the Caps prefer to face. Maybe they want to take on their old coach and prove that they can beat the man who gave them their first Cup, and maybe they want to exact revenge on the team that halted their quest for back-to-back a year later.
Regardless, as the final tune-up before the real games start, this is likely to be the closest to playoff hockey we’ve seen out of either team so far.
So... who you got?