|Boston Bruins' Johnny Boychuk, back, mixes it up with Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, during the third period of an NHL preseason hockey game, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010, in Washington. The Capitals won 3-2. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) |
Though the B's are off to a decent 2-1-0 start, New England hockey fans hope that the Bruins can maintain their momentum and their modest two-game winning streak in the face of the powerful Capitals offense.
Clearly, Ovechkin is an ominous offensive force. The first in over a decade to win the Hart Trophy for two consecutive years, Ovechkin scored 200 goals and had 200 assists in his first four NHL seasons after being drafted first overall by Washington in 2004.
Last season, the overachieving forward was a first team NHL All-Star and earned the Ted Lindsay Award (as the NHL's top player as selected by the NHLPA).
This season, the Russian-born winger has eight points in five games (seven in his last four) and TSN.ca reports Ovechkin is on pace for a modest 65-65-130 totals.
While that prediction seems generous, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas
, seemingly back to his own award-winning self after two stellar performances between the pipes, chuckled at the possibility of facing Ovechkin tonight.
"He’s a lot of work," understated Thomas. "He’s energy intensive for a goalie to play against.
"I’d prefer to watch them on TV," added Thomas with a smile. "But, you know...it’s a real fun challenge.
"You’re going to have to be in perfect position to block his shot because you’re very rarely going to be able to make a reflex save on him.
"If you make a save on him, it’s going to be because you had the correct positioning," he said.
Whether they play in front of Thomas or Tuukka Rask
, the entire B's team is going to have to be on their game in order to mitigate Washington's attack.
Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick remained positive as he prepared to board the airplane to Washington, and said he's looking forward to testing this tight-knit crew against the top competitors in the league.
"For me personally, it’s always a fun team to play against," said Hunwick. "They can really skate and move the puck.
"It’s some of the best players in the league, so you always want to gauge yourself against the top guys."
"Everyone’s game is obviously elevated because [Ovechkin is] probably one of the top two or three players in the entire league, so he’s someone you always have to be aware of."
But center David Krejci
said that the Bruins must simply concentrate on their own game.
"Well, you’ve got to play good defense and go from there," said Krejci. "I think it’s going to be our toughest game so far this year and it’s going to be a challenge.
"But like I said, it’s got to start with our team defense and if we do that we can have some good breaks and some good rushes and hopefully we’ll get some goals like that."