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Need to Know: Bruins vs. Capitals

Special teams have been a boon for Boston

by Eric Russo and Michael Tolvo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - The Bruins will be attempting to extend their points streak (3-0-3) to seven games when they host the Washington Capitals on Saturday night at TD Garden. Here's what you need to know:

Special Delivery

The Bruins special teams units have been a focus of late with both the penalty kill and the power play ranking in the top five in the NHL.

Boston's penalty kill went 3 for 3 in its win over Vegas on Thursday night and is a perfect 10 for 10 over the last three games. Overall this season, the Bruins are 44 of 50 (86.4%) on the kill, which ranks fourth in the league.

The Bruins' power play, meanwhile, is also fourth best in the league, with Boston clicking at a 28.2% clip. The success has come despite limited time on the man advantage. Boston has had just 39 power-play opportunities this season, the third-fewest total in the league.

"They were frustrated," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of his team, which was awarded just one power play against Vegas. "I don't think it will affect us going forward. It was heat of the moment. Me as a coach, it does, because we seemed to be called for a lot of those infractions, which is fine.

"If that's what they are then put us in the box, but on the flip side when it happens to us, put us on the power play. That was my beef [Thursday] night…didn't work out. I think when you're a young team you do have to earn some of that.

"There is a level of frustration but we can't let it affect us, we have to move on to the next game and hopefully we get our calls."

Opposing View

The Washington Capitals won the 2016-17 Presidents' Trophy as the team to record the most points during the regular season (118). So far in 2017-18, the Caps are still trying to recapture their previous form, as they currently rank sixth in the Metropolitan Division, having amassed a 6-6-1 record.
The Capitals are coming off of a tightly contested 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders. Despite being outshot, 38-19, and, 16-2, in the third period, Washington escaped with the two points. The Caps received a three-point effort from Danish forward Lars Eller and a stellar 35-save performance from the 2016 Vezina Trophy winner, Braden Holtby.
Up front, the Bruins will have to be wary of the Capitals dynamic Russian duo of Alex Ovechkin (10-5-15) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (3-12-15). Ovechkin is tied for third in the NHL in goals, and the 11-time All-Star is two goals shy of tying Guy Lafleur for 25th on the all-time goals list (560).  Kuznetsov is in his fourth full season in the NHL, and the center is three points away from notching the 200th of his career.

"Until they see it live, his strength and power on the ice, they're gonna have to live it," Cassidy said of his rookies playing against Ovechkin for the first time. "Charlie [McAvoy] will be one guy that will probably see a lot of him in the matchup. Brandon [Carlo] saw him last year, [Zdeno Chara's] seen him plenty of times over the years.

"That will be a big challenge for Charlie if he ends up matched against him."

Wait, There's More

  • Cassidy does not foresee any lineup changes against Washington. Tuukka Rask will start in goal, while David Krejci remains out with an upper-body injury.
  • Brad Marchand missed practice on Friday for a maintenance day, but Cassidy said it was "nothing serious, just a precaution."
  • The Bruins were 0-2-1 against the Capitals last season.
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