Desperate Capitals stand in Bruins’ way of clinching playoff spot
|03.29.12 at 12:46 pm ET|
At this point of the season, it’s somewhat of a cliche to say that every game will have a “playoff intensity,” but when you look at the Bruins’ remaining schedule, you can understand why.
Of the Bruins’ remaining six games, only Saturday’s tilt with the Islanders is against an opponent not in or fighting for the playoffs. Some teams, like the Bruins themselves, will be looking to nail down their divisions, while other teams such as the Capitals, will be trying to squeeze into the postseason picture.
That’s why Thursday’s game between the B’s and Capitals should be worth the price of admission. With a victory, the Bruins will clinch a playoff spot, while the ninth-place Capitals would take over eighth place in the conference with a win Thursday.
“Every single team in the league, they’re playing playoff hockey right now,” David Krejci said after Thursday’s morning skate. “It’s a good preparation, that’s for sure, but there’s so much to play for right now. We’re battling for home ice advantage, for second place in our conference, and Washington is battling for a playoff spot, so it should be a really interesting game tonight.”
The Capitals, who are coming off a 5-1 loss to the very Sabres team they’re fighting for the eighth spot with, will have to bring the fire they lacked Tuesday against Buffalo. Washington is still playing without center Nicklas Backstrom, who is working his way back from a concussion, but given their situation and the fact that the Capitals have taken two of three meetings between the teams so far this season, the Bruins see enough talent and desperation to make Thursday’s opponent a tough one.
“They’re battling for a playoff spot right now, and we’re going to obviously expect their best,” Adam McQuaid said. “They’ve played us hard this year, and even without Backstrom, they have a lot of offensive firepower. We’ve got to make sure we’re on our toes.”
As for the Bruins’ situation, the team knows that it needs a pair of points to go in, but their main focus is continuing to build on their improved play of late. The team has won three games in a row, something they hadn’t done over their previous 41 games, but playing well for the remainder of the season and going to the playoffs confident is more important to them than clinching a spot a spot and feeling accomplished.
“It would be nice, but I think our main focus is on playing well and making sure that we’re being consistent and going into the playoffs feeling good about ourselves and about our game,” McQuaid said of clinching. “I guess it would be a bonus to be able to clinch as soon as possible, but at the end of the day, we just have to worry about playing good hockey.”
Added McQuaid: “It’s only the beginning of where we want to get to. You have to make the playoffs in order to give yourself a chance to win the Cup. ‘¦ [We can] get that first step, and then shift our focus to what we’re really working towards.”