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April 27 vs. Boston Bruins at Verizon Center
Time: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: 106.7 The Fan/Capitals Radio Network
Boston Bruins (28-13-5)
Washington Capitals (26-18-3)
Washington finishes up a season-ending three-game homestand on Saturday night when it hosts the Boston Bruins at Verizon Center. Saturday’s game is the Caps’ regular season finale and its last tune-up prior to the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs on either Tuesday or Wednesday here in the District.
Washington is also still waiting to learn the identity of its first-round playoff opponent, a process that could take until Sunday night. While most NHL clubs conclude the 2012-13 campaign on Saturday, the Bruins and the Ottawa Senators are playing their final game on Sunday night when they make up a postponement of a previously scheduled contest.
The Capitals are coming into Saturday’s game fresh from a 2-1 overtime loss to the Senators on Thursday night. That loss and a 3-1 April 18 loss to the Senators in Ottawa are the only blemishes on Washington’s ledger this month. The Capitals are 10-1-1 in April.
Boston and Washington have met twice previously this season, once in each city. The Caps roared back from a 3-0 second-period deficit to take a thrilling 4-3 overtime win over the Bruins at the Phone Booth on March 5. Eric Fehr supplied the overtime heroics in that one, splitting the Boston defense and scoring a highlight reel game to enable the Capitals to collect two points.
“That proved that we could do it,” says Caps goaltender Braden Holtby of that comeback win over the Bruins. “It obviously took a lot of work after that one to really hone in on how to play in those situations during games. Up until then, it was like we’d get down two goals and just fold the tent and think about tomorrow. It can’t happen in this league. The game is too fast and goals can happen too quick. You can’t give up on games like that.”
“That game was a prime example. It gave us a lot of confidence. It started us on the road to building up to where we are now.”
Less than two weeks later, the two teams met once again in Boston. Washington’s performance was less than stellar in that one, and it resulted in a 4-1 Boston win. That Saturday matinee match against the Bruins in Boston is one of very few subpar performances the Caps have offered over the second half of the season.
Saturday’s game has no standings meaning for Washington, but the Caps definitely want to go into the playoffs on a high note and want to hit the ground running when the postseason gets underway in the middle of the week.
“You’ve got to treat it the same,” says Holtby, when asked about Washington’s approach for the regular season finale against Boston. “That’s the best way to have success is if you treat every game the same, no matter if it’s the playoffs or a game like this that’s meaningless. That’s what the best players do, they’re able to come out and play the same way every game no matter what the circumstances are. You’ve got to prepare the same way; it’s going to be the same type of game.
“I don’t know what it’s going to be like for other guys who feed off emotion, and it might be harder for them. But for myself, it’s going to be the same type of scoring chances and the same type of shots, so it’s going to be the same type of preparation.”
Maintaining the consistency they’ve built over the last two months is also a key for the Caps heading into the postseason. Washington is 24-10-2 in its last 36 games and it is 16-4-2 in its last 22 contests.
“Obviously there are games where we get outplayed,” says Holtby, “but it’s the fact that we stick with it and make sure that no matter how the game is swinging momentum-wise, that we’re focused on the outcome and focused on what our job is to do no matter what the point of the game is.
“It’s going to happen that you get outplayed or there are going to be games where you badly outplay teams and you lose. It’s juts the fact that we’re coming with the same consistent attitude no matter what the circumstances that is the positive thing right now.”
Boston is still looking to nail down the Northeast Division title. Heading into Saturday night’s NHL action, the Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens are tied for the top spot in the Northeast. Boston has two games remaining while the Habs’ season concludes on Saturday when Montreal visits Toronto in what should prove to be a feisty preview of a possible first-round matchup of the two Canadian Original Six franchises.
The Bruins have sputtered a bit down the stretch, and they’ll be anxious to nail down the division and to get their ship pointed in the right direction as the playoffs get underway. Boston is just 2-4-1 in its last seven games, scoring just 14 goals during those seven contests. The Bruins’ two victories during that span both came on home ice and via the shutout route, a 3-0 win over Florida on April 21 and a 2-0 whitewash of Tampa Bay on Thursday night.
With a win over the Capitals on Saturday, the Bruins would have their first pair of consecutive triumphs since April 8-10 when they won over Carolina and at New Jersey, respectively.
Ex-Caps winger Jaromir Jagr – obtained from Dallas at the trade deadline – won’t make the trip to Washington with his new Bruins teammates. Jagr is bothered with the flu and will remain in Boston. Since joining the Bruins earlier this month, Jagr has two goals and seven assists for nine points while averaging 18:27 a night in ice time.
Jagr is nine games shy of 1,400, 19 goals shy of 700 and a dozen points shy of 1,700 for his NHL career.