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On the Road: Bruins @ Capitals

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
AP Summary

Boston 0 1 0-1
Wash. 1 1 1-3

First Period-1, Washington, Backstrom 9 (Ovechkin, Kozlov), 3:53 (pp).

Second Period-2, Washington, Giroux 1 (Kozlov, Poti), 4:52. 3, Boston, Lucic 8 (Kessel, Chara), 19:25.

Third Period-4, Washington, Ovechkin 15 (Semin, Backstrom), 19:08 (en).

Missed Penalty Shot-Giroux, Was, 1:22 third.

Shots on Goal-Boston 14-10-10-34. Washington 6-9-11-26.

Goalies-Boston, Fernandez. Washington, Johnson. A-17,697 (18,277). T-2:26.

0:00 - End of game. Boston falls 3-1. Now it's off to Atlanta...

51.9 - Ovechkin scores on an empty net. It's 3-1, Washington. Boston takes a time out.

59.0 - Fernandez vacates the net.

1:31 - Boston can't get anything going.

2:56 - Bergeron flips a puck at Johnson, he grabs it and holds it.

4:07 - Fernandez stops Steckel.

4:18 - Boston had a couple of chances, but time winding down, things are getting desperate.

6:01 - Offsides Washington. Time is running short. The Bruins are pushing very hard, but Washington is really standing tall. Shots are 32-23, Boston.

8:05 - Ovechkin gets into the zone and Manny needs to make a stretching save with his right foot. Tough save.

8:35 - Brashear has a pile up around him on the boards. Shocking.

8:53 - TV timeout. Perfect timing.

10:10 - Another save by Fernandez.

13:00 - Lucic deflects a puck toward Johnson who makes yet another fine save.

14:27 - Axelsson fires and hits Johnson in the shoulder.

14:46 - Hooking call on the Caps. Collins is in the box.

17:42 - Another nice save by Fernandez...

18:06 - Krejci's shot is saved by Johnson, who is having an excellent game.

18:38 - Penalty shot for Wash. Giroux is stopped by Fernandez.

20:00 - Start of the Third.
0:00 - End of the second. Another decent period for the B's.

34.9 - Boy what a terrific play by Boston. Chara forces a turnover, Kessel takes it off the side boards and passes to Lucic who was waiting in front of an open net. Gorgeous. 2-1, Wash.

53.4 - Icing Washington.

2:39 - Some outstanding hockey going on. Back and forth, hits and shots and saves...

5:01 - Johnson makes his best imitation of a first baseman by stopping a crazy puck and holding on.

5:30 - Johnson with a glove stop. He will hold on for the faceoff.

5:46 - Icing Bruins.

6:54 - Some excellent pressure by the Yelle line. Stront work, in particular, by Shawn Thornton.

7:55 - A Chara pokecheck stops an Ovechkin bid just seconds after the Krejci line created some havoc in the Washington zone.

9:31 - Save Fernandez, through traffic.

9:54 - Poti and Savard have there second "talk" of the night.

10:14 - Offsides, Giroux. THANK GOODNESS.

12:27 - Hunwick stops breakout with a hand pass. The Krejci line brought some great pressure previous to that play.

14:10 - Brilliant save by Johnson on Wheeler. He caught it with the paddle...

15:08 - Poti hits the post (or did it hit Manny), Giroux scores. Not a heck of a lot that Manny could do. It's 2-0, Wash.

16:03 - The Yelle line makes three hits in succession: Nokelainen, Thornton and then Yelle.

17:35 - Manny stops Ovechkin on a turnaround shot from the corner and hands on for the draw.

18:07 - Two more saves by Fernandez, who likes a lot of work and who is getting it here in the second.

18:42 - Big hit by Hunwick on Osala.

18:55 - This time it's Johnson's turn.

19:22 - A really nice glove save by Manny Fernandez, who got the rebound out the way...

20:00 - Start of First Period.
0:00 - End of the Second. You can't complain about that period (besides the score). Boston leads in shots 14-6. Washington leads in hits, 11-9.

All-in-all, it was a very even period.

Marc Savard to NESN...
"Obviously they can score all the time...we've got to shore up a bit and get some shots on Johnson through some screens."

1:28 - Icing, Wash.

2:22 - Save Fernandez.

2:40 - Wheeler, Krejci and Ryder combine for a scoring chance, but Johnson stops it.

3:42 - Manny makes a save on the Caps third shot.

4:15 - Lucic has the Bruins 12th shot. Shots are 12-2, Boston.

4:49 - Manny Fernandez is a pretty good puckhandler, folks. I like the way he controls the puck behind his net.

5:28 - Wheeler went to the bench hobbling after stopping a Dennis Wideman shot with his foot.

6:02 - Phil Kessel thought he deserved to draw a penalty call when his latest bid is broken up by a shove.

6:38 - P.J. Axelsson is stopped on a shorthanded breakaway, but Ovechkin goes to the box for hooking.

6:59 - Nokelainen to the box for interference. Washington is 1/1 on the PP.

7:29 - Hunwick makes a stick save and his twig shattered.

8:18 - Johnson stops a slow roller...

9:22 - Holy cow. Johnson stops Bergeron and Kobasew in succession, and then got creamed. He is down...Theodore is starting to move. Johnson just got up.

Johnson is staying in.

10:59 - Save Johnson.

12:08 - Chara shoots high on Johnson, who traps the puck against his body for the faceoff.

12:47 - Manny pokechecks a puck out of the way, after a bouncing puck sprung Kozlov.

12:58 - Ryder tests Johnson, who holds on for the stoppage in play.

15:04 - Icing by Wash. Lashoff touches up.

16:07 - Ovechkin, from the point -- just beat Manny on the glove side. Was it tipped?

It's now 1-0, Washington. Give the goal to Backstrom. Primary assist to Ovechkin.

16:49 - Fernandez stops Semin for his first save.

17:22 - Wash goes offsides on a three-on-one. Then Savard and Poti yap at each other a bit.

17:43 - Interference on Yelle. The Caps will have a PP in 24-seconds.

18:33 - Johnson has had to make three saves already.

19:19 - Morrisonn caught Chuck Kobasew high. Bruins PP.

19:59 - Boston controls the draw.

20:00 - Start of the First Period. Keep an eye on Alex!

Boston Starters:
Axelsson, Bergeron, Kobasew, Chara, Wideman, Fernandez
Washington Starters:
Kozlov, Morrisohn, Giroux, Collins, Nylander, Johnson

Switching to time on the clock...

6:38 p.m.
The Lines...
Lucic - Savard - Kessel
Axelsson - Bergeron - Kobasew
Wheeler - Krejci - Ryder
Thornton - Yelle - Nokelainen
Chara - Lashoff
Hunwick - Wideman
Stuart - Hnidy

Sturm, Ward

Coach Julien on the depth of the team, and the defense in particular...
"I think that's a credit to a lot of people away from the coaching staff.  Our scouts have done a great job, our coaches in the minors have obviously done a great job developing those guys, and there's a lot of credit that needs to be spread around to people other than the coaches here.  They've come here, and whether it's been Hunwick, whether it's been Lashoff, or even Boychuk, every one of them have come in and contributed in a positive way, and it's made things a lot easier for rest of us.  At the same time, you've got to give our other D's credit to adjusting to bringing those guys in and helping them out along the way as well."

6:30 p.m.
Johnson will be in goal for Wash. Fernandez is in goal for Boston.

6:20 p.m.
Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, celebrates in front of fans after scoring a goal against the New York Islanders during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Beyond Number Eight, Washington brings quite a bit to the rink -- even if their injured players don't return this evening (and at press time, it looked like they would return).

"They still play the same with without (Alexander) Semin," said Wideman. "They still have a lot of good players.

"Obviously it makes their D core a little different without Green back there – he carries the puck and plays a lot of minutes for them, so I think it definitely changes their lineup, as injuries do, but they've got enough depth and enough skill that it's not going to affect them that much."

Wideman implied that when you add two superstars to the mix and you have a volitile concoction of Capitals.

"They've got a lot of size, a lot of speed, and a lot of skill," he said. "Obviously the top guys are Ovechkin and Backstrom.

"Ovechkin's all over the ice, he's tough to find, but you've got to pick him up and match his speed.

"We're well aware that these guys are playing well, have a lot of skill, and they've got a really good home record.  This is a tough arena to play in, and they play really well here, so we know that's going to be a big challenge, and we have to be ready to play a full 60 minutes, or we're not going to get the two points," said Wideman.

5:34 p.m.
If one man can single handedly change the complextion of a hockey game, Washington's Alex Ovechkin certainly tops the list of guys who do it most often.

"You've got to be aware when he's out there," said Dennis Wideman after morning skate. "You've got to be able to find him.

"He's got an incredible shot, and he gets it off really quick, so you've got to be able to know that, especially on the power play, they're looking for him to get the puck and for him to shoot it.

"So we have to make sure that we take the lanes away, the pass lanes away to him, and then do the best we can to take his shots to a minimum," he said.

Sitting directly across from Wideman in the visitor's locker room, Michael Ryder agreed.

"I think he's pretty much an all-around player," said the right winger. "He works hard, he takes the body, he's good offensively and pretty solid defensively.

"So I respect him that way, and when you get a chance to take away his ice -- I think that's pretty much we have to do."

2:33 p.m.
Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, moves the puck past Boston Bruins' Mark Stuart (45) during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008, in Washington. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
The matchup with the Caps should be a good one, but if the Bruins want to be on the right side of things, they better make sure to come with their usual game plan firmly in mind.

"This is a team that competes hard and has been competing hard for quite a while now, and they've earned a lot of respect around the league," said Coach Julien. "We also kind of know that there's a good possibility that they're going to add some players in their lineup tonight, so that should make them even better.

"But we've had some good battles with these guys last year, and I don't anticipate that changing this year."

Julien emphasized that the B's must play their own game.

"I think if you want to be a strong team from start of the season right to the end, you've got to be able to build some stability, as far as being able to maintain your game plan from start to finish as best you can," he said. "We talk about mental toughness: it's not just through tough times, it's also through good times. You need to stay focused, and that takes mental toughness.

"No matter what the score is, you have to play the same (way), and keep bringing the same effort from start to finish."

2:10 p.m.
Boston Bruins center Stephane Yelle (18) dumps Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Mikhail Grabovski, of Germany, to the ice during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
The Bruins get healthier and healthier. Stephane Yelle, in particular, may actually be in playing shape.

"Right now he's feeling good, and we'll make that a game time decision, because of the fact that he's feeling good now and it's his first practice," said Coach Julien.  "If something happens in the afternoon where he stiffens up again, and we have to make a decision.

"But he felt really good, and he said that from the time it happened until now, it continues to improve, so we're very positive, and hopefully we'll see him in the lineup tonight."

Julien reported that Aaron Ward and Marco Sturm are coming along as well.

"Yeah they both are (taking good steps forward), actually," said the Bruins bench boss. "Both are very optimistic that they're on the right track, and Ward is feeling a lot better each day.

"Today, you could see him doing a lot more with the pivoting and the turning and everything else, so that's a good sign there.

"With Sturmie, we're able to push him a little more, even today because he keeps feeling good after the workouts we've been giving him lately.

"So they're both on the right track, and hopefully we'll see them both in the lineup very soon," he said.

Manny Fernandez was the first goalie off the ice for Boston. That should indicate that he will be the man in net for the Bruins, tonight.

Coach Julien said that Stephane Yelle will be a game time decision.

More in a bit. JB

11:07 a.m.
There are a lot of Bruins on the ice -- seven defensemen, 14 forwards and two goalies.

Stephane Yelle is on the ice, as is Marco Sturm and Aaron Ward.

Watching the club skate through their lines did not make the roster choices for this evening any clearer -- so we'll have to wait on Coach Julien to tell us or to see warmups tonight.

9:57 p.m.

Vladimir Sobotka
The Bruins returned to practice in Wilmington on Tuesday and despite the uneasiness displayed after the Black & Gold just barely held on to their 5-3 victory against Tampa Bay on Monday, Manny Fernandez, Milan Lucic and others made sure that the locker room in Ristuccia Arena was a raucous place the following morning.

And with Manny telling Luch that he would take him on in a fight at center ice, and with Luch looking “sternly” at the goalie, the room was alive with laughter and created a perfect juxtaposition against Monday night’s somber postgame room.

In fact, that laughter followed the club to the airport, onto the plane and the bus to Washington and into the hotel where everyone looked happy to be back on the road and to have a night off.

But the time to laugh and relax is over because tonight the Bruins must face the wounded beast that is Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Even with Tom Poti, Mike Green and Alex Semin day-to-day and possibly out of the lineup, the Bruins will have their hands full.

Besides, the B’s are hurting, too. Andrew Ference remains out with his leg injury and you can add Marco Sturm (concussion-like symptoms), Aaron Ward (leg) and Stephane Yelle (muscle spasms) to the list of B's ailments.

“(He’s) good. He took that next step, if you want to call it that,” said Julien of Ward. “He’s is going to make the trip with us and even Yelle is a lot better, today. He got evaluated this morning (with) X-rays and there are no rib issues…so he’s a day-to-day situation as well.

“And then Sturmie felt good (again) today. So he’s on the rise, as well.”

“It’s all encouraging news…the only guy not coming (on the trip) is Ference,” he said.

However, chances are probably good that defenseman Matt Lashoff will be joined by his Providence Bruins teammate Vladimir Sobotka when the Black & Gold take the ice this evening.

But Coach Julien is worried about inserting the young forward into the Bruins roster.

“I think he’s got to fit in and play with the crew like the Lashoff’s, Boychuk’s and Hunwick’s have done. I wouldn’t put him in different category than those guys.

“He’s been here before. He knows what is expected and he’s had a great year, so far, in Providence. So there’s no reason in the world to ask him to modify his game.”

Sobotka stood in front of his locker and seemed thrilled to be back.

“We are playing pretty good (in Providence), like Boston,” he said. “So nothing will change for me – except maybe for a little bit less ice time.”

You see, Vladimir is on the first line for the P-Bruins, so the Bruins may actually have to ask him to modify his game just a bit.

“I’m on the fourth line here, so that’s something different,” he said. “But I don’t think (it’s a big) change.

“I can play center and I can play wing, so for me it doesn’t matter.

“I drove up this morning and I am excited and happy to be back,” said Sobotka.
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