Game of the night - Oct. 19 - High-powered Caps play host to stingy Bruins

Boston Bruins (2-1-0) at Washington Capitals (4-1-0), Verizon Center, Washington DC

Hammer, meet nail.

Over the last nine games against the Bruins, Washington has picked up 16 of a possible 18 points with losses in overtime and a shootout preventing a clean sweep.

Not shockingly, a well-known trio of Capitals have led the way. Nicklas Backstrom is the top scorer with 11 points, including eight assists, followed by Alex Ovechkin (five goals, five assists), and Alexander Semin (three goals, seven assists).

Washington’s top-scoring defenseman over that span was the notoriously fragile Tom Poti with just six assists. This season, John Carlson has emerged as the Caps’ top scoring threat from the blueline.

In five games, the 27th overall pick in 2008 has a goal and five assists – matching his total in 22 contests a season ago.

With Semyon Varlamov injured and Jose Theodore now a backup in Minnesota, goaltending chores have fallen to Michal Neuvirth – and given how well he's playing, it could be hard for Varlamov to get his starting job back.

After losing to the Atlanta Thrashers on opening night, the Czech-born Neuwirth is 4-0-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. He stopped 37 shots Saturday in a 3-2 overtime win against the Nashville Predators.

Brooks Laich scored the game-winner, but credited Neuvirth's solid play as the reason why the Capitals extended their winning streak.

“Neuvy, for he second game in a row is the storyline,” Laich told the Caps' official website. “After he gives up the second goal, he shuts the door and doesn’t give up any more. Which is a great sign for a young goaltender, to be calm when he is under siege. I think they had 30 shots after two periods. That’s a lot of shots to give up."

If Boston was fatigued after splitting a season-opening series with the Phoenix Coyotes in the Czech Republic, it wasn’t evident Saturday in New Jersey. Rookie Jordan Caron’s first NHL marker ignited a four-goal outburst, lifting the Bruins to a 4-1 win.

Tim Thomas stopped 31 shots, and improved to 2-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA, .984 save percentage and one shutout.

The portly Thomas is playing more like the goalie that won the Vezina Trophy two seasons ago, not the one who finished below .500.

“It wasn’t like we were looking at beating New Jersey,” Thomas told The Associated Press. “We’ve had trouble with them in the past, but it was more that we wanted to be 2-1. Our goal coming in was to start working our way up the standings. We were hungry for the victory, no matter who it was against.”

These teams won’t have to wait long to meet again. They’ll complete the back end of a home-and-home set Thursday in Boston for the Bruins’ home opener.

The pick? With Thomas, Boston’s early-season goaltending has been solid, but Washington still has way too many weapons.


No comments: