BRIGHTON – The Bruins were doing a pretty good job of making it seem like Thursday night's game against the Washington Capitals will be business as usual.
But it will be anything but that after getting shellacked by the Capitals in Washington on NHL's opening night, which continued a string of dominance for the Caps over the Bruins dating back for years. The Capitals are 10-0-3 in their last 13 games against the Bruins while pushing and shoving the Bruins all over the ice during those games, and if it isn't their brute force or deadly scoring then it's been Braden Holtby dominating them between the pipes.
"It's more about that this team has had our number for the last number of years, and we need to get over that hurdle," said Bruce Cassidy. "We've got to get over the hurdle. They're the Stanley Cup champions, and if you want to be the best then you've got to beat the best. I know it's a long season, but we're playing good hockey and I'd like to think our guys are going to be confident going into the game. Not thinking about what happened opening night or over the years, but still have a bit of an ‘Enough is enough' type of attitude as well. You just don't want to overthink and go ‘Here we go again' if the first 10 minutes don't go your way."
The Capitals have beaten the Bruins in pretty much every way you can beat a hockey team in recent years, but the Bruins have also won five games in a row with a healthy lineup that's just starting to click on all cylinders.
"We're feeling good right now and feeling good going into this game," said David Pastrnak. "Obviously we've had a tough time the last few years against this team, so we'll try to stick to our plan and play the same way that we did the last couple of games."
It's in the B's heads enough that they're going to switch things up in goal and start Jaroslav Halak rather than Tuukka Rask to maybe change their luck, and the Bruins are going to try and pretend like it's just another game.
Good luck with that against a Capitals team that's treated the Bruins like the 98-pound weakling over the better part of the last five seasons.
"I think it's the next one on our schedule so it's got to be all hands on deck and all synapses firing to try to beat this Capitals team that obviously won the Cup last year," said David Backes of the Capitals, who smoked the Bruins by a 7-0 score in that opening night debacle in DC. "They took it to us on opening night when they raised their banner, so now it's time we turn the tide and get the best of them, especially at home. With our lineup playing the way it is and not missing many people, this is going to be a good test for us."
In fact, the rest of the week is going to be a good test for the Black and Gold with the defending Stanley Cup champs on Thursday night, and then the final divisional showdown of the season with the Maple Leafs set for this weekend. The B's should have a much better idea of where they stand within the Eastern Conference power structure after weaving through the Capitals and Maple Leafs over the next couple of days.
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