A lot is at stake for both teams, as the Bruins (45-28-3, 93 points) can clinch a playoff spot with a win (regulation or overtime), while the Capitals (38-31-8, 84 points) are looking to break into the eighth-place playoff spot.
The Buffalo Sabres (38-29-10) beat the Capitals 5-1 on Tuesday to overtake the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, leaving Washington two points out of the playoff race going into tonight.
“Every game right now, the points are up for grabs for a lot of teams, especially with Washington being two points out,” Bruins forward Rich Peverley
said. “But, we’re in a dog fight ourselves – we got teams chasing us down so I think it’s preparing us for the playoffs and it will be good definitely going towards the end of the season.”
After losing four straight games two weeks ago, the Bruins have won five of their last six contests and are starting to look more like the playoff-caliber team they expect themselves to be.
However, with just six games left in the regular season, now is not the time to get comfortable.
“As a team, [we] thought the game is coming along the last five games – we’ve been playing the way we want to,” Bruins forward David Krejci
said. “But we can’t sit back and take any game lightly, we want to build our momentum and confidence going into the playoffs. We still got [six] games left, so we can do it and feel good about ourselves going into the playoffs.
“We definitely have to be ready [tonight]. We know [Washington] has some skill up front – [Alexander] Ovechkin and all those guys. So, we just have to play smart, pay attention to all the little details and we’ll go from there.”
Peverley said he expects a fast-paced game from the Capitals, but he doesn’t expect it to alter the Bruins strategy.
“Well, you know they’re always going to play at a high energy – they have such dynamic players – you always have to be aware of them on the ice,” Peverley said. “But it doesn’t really change our game plan – we try to go out and work as hard as we can to try and dominate.”
Like Krejci, Peverley also acknowledged that the Bruins are somewhat close to playoff form, and the intensity of tonight’s game will add to that.
Even though the Bruins have hit their stride just recently, Peverley said that it’s better than not happening at all.
“Well I think a lot of teams have been playing playoff hockey for a week or two, maybe even more,” Peverley said. “And we’re starting to see the games come down to who’s going to be in the spots, and there’s still some standings up for grabs and I think we want to hold our position to get into our playoff mode right now.
“You can’t just turn it on at playoff time, and going forward here we need to start building towards where we want to be.”