While I don’t have a crystal ball, given the ending to Monday night’s game it is safe to assume things will start off a little differently on Thursday. Fans have been waiting for things to heat up in this series, and they may just get their wish. With emotions now running higher, the Bruins’ play will hopefully elevate too, giving them that push they need to win two more games. It may be wishful thinking, but I would expect to see better offense with that more physical style, that favors the Bruins.
Given the spear (and elbow) to Marchand, cross check to Peverly’s face, and an overall chippy ending the Bruins left the ice fired up. Looking around the league at the other series, Bruins-Caps appeared to be the tamest and while things are sure to be more exciting, one can only hope it doesn’t get out of hand. Alzner’s cry baby motion to Lucic, voted this years’ toughest player by the NHLPA, will not be forgotten going into this game. Post-game Lucic pretty much laughed at the idea of Alzner fighting him, and it seems pretty clear who would win if it happened. Marchand also was fired-up post game, and an apology by the bus won’t be enough for Marchand to forgive. The Bruins are a physical team, players like Marchand and Lucic tend to play better when they are playing with more emotion. Marchand talked about the hatred growing between the two teams, which we will see in tomorrow’s game, Bruins fans can only hope that won’t mean penalties. Given Washington’s power play skill, they are likely to bate the B’s into the box to try to score some goals.
The more physical play also led to the suspension of Backstrom for his match penalty. The empty spot is likely to be filled by Mike Knuble. The absence of Backstrom will definitely be a big hit to the Capitals line-up considering he scored a game-winning goal, and had an assist on Monday. While Ovechkin has been quieted by the Bruins defense, Backstrom was able to still break through. Without Backstrom, one of the best playmakers on the team, other players will need to step up, and the Capitals aren’t exactly known for their depth.
Many wonder when the time comes to drop the gloves who will be representing the Caps. While he might not play, there was a fresh face at Capitals practice: John Erskine. Practicing on the third pairing with Wideman, Erskine isn’t a very productive player when it comes to scoring, but he did manage to rack up 93 penalty minutes in 73 games this year. He spent some time out of the line up in January after receiving a triple minor against the Canadiens. He later said Hunter told him that he played with too much energy, and mentioned slowing things down and lunging at players to get the hit. Funny a guy like Dale Hunter would call on a guy like John Erskine at a time like this, he might just be looking for some of that “energy” and lunging in his line-up.
Lastly, I would expect to see Holtby not looking as confident as he did in the first couple games. As Monday’s game went on he appeared to be getting shakier, and that’s likely to continue the more time the Bruins spend around the net. The more the Bruins can score or even gain better chances, the more nervous he will get, and hopefully appear more like an AHL goalie.