Boston is riding high in first right now, and I'd love to say they're being chased, but they're really not. Especially if the Caps fail to come out of Boston with a regulation win. Boston(92 points) is currently sitting 9 points ahead of the Capitals(83 points), 11 ahead of the Devils(81 points) and no one else in the East is even close to the 3 division leaders. Its staggering to think that Boston has lost a mere 12 out of 62 games in regulation this season (second to SJ's 9). Having seen these point totals, its needless to say that if the Capitals don't leave Beantown with 2 points and none left on the table for the Bruins, 1st place becomes VERY unlikely.
Good news for the Capitals is that both Lucic and Savard are questionable for the Bruins lineup on Saturday. Among all players, Savard enters Saturday 7th in assists and tied with Iginla for 8th in points. Savard also has 44 points in 34 career games against the Capitals. He's a player that Caps fans won't miss seeing on Saturday. Lucic is an emerging power forward, he's basically Iginla with about 1/2 the skill (and 1/2 the points). Lucic is young quality player who is capable of digging the puck out of corners and dishing off to the skilled players like Savard to make plays happen. He's a vital cog for physical presence on the forecheck. He's a player the Caps defensemen won't miss seeing on Saturday.
As typical with good teams, when injuries strike, someone will step up. That player has been Michael Ryder. He's got 4 goals in his last 4 games and 7 points in that span. Ryder has four 2 goal games accounting for 8 of his 22 goals, oh and 7 of his 22 goals are GWG, however only 2 of his GWG have come in the 3rd and he has not scored in OT. He has 9 goals and 15 points in 17 games against the Capitals. He has 21 goals in 40 games that Boston has won and a mere 1 goal in 14 games that they have lost. If Ryder is a non-factor, that does not sit well for the Bruins.
Caps come in after a 4-3 win over the lowly Thrashers. It was all powerplay for the Caps in their last game. The Caps scored 3 on the man advantage and gave up a shorty. The powerplay remains red hot and is 3rd in the league, behind SJ by 0.1%. Speaking of special teams, the Caps have got to eliminate penalties in Boston because their powerplay sits at 5th, and the Caps already gave a game away in Boston in OT while shorthanded. The Capitals are currently an unimpressive 20th in the NHL on the penalty kill at 80%. Needless to say the PK unit needs to stay off the ice. The Capitals are 3rd to last in Powerplay goals allowed with 61, ahead of only the Ducks (62) and the Thrashers (68). I'll say it again, the PK needs to stay off the ice. Think of any team in the NHL not in Anaheim or Atlanta and they've allowed less goals on the PK than the Caps. Islanders?...Lightning?...Senators? Yeah. PK is hurting.
On a positive note, Ovechkin has 16 points and 7 goals in 15 games against Boston. Backstrom has 7 points in 7 games against the Bruins. Nylander scored in his last game against the Bruins and he has 33 points in 37 career games against Boston. Love to see him get back on track........wait, get ON the track. To say he has struggled would be underestimating. Hopefully Brashear and Thornton throw fists, its always fun to see 2 of the NHLs best fighters go at it. Brashear had a great fight against Boulton on Thursday.
Caps need 2 in regulation to keep the 1st place hopes alive. Lets go Caps.