|Capitals tie series with Game 4 win||04.19.12 at 10:12 pm ET|
WASHINGTON — The Capitals tied the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at two games apiece with a 2-1 victory over the Bruins Thursday at Verizon Center.
The Bruins never led in the game, as Washington took an early lead. A defensive breakdown by Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara left Brian Rolston back to defend a 2-on-1, and Marcus Johansson took advantage by bearing Tim Thomas to give the Caps a 1-0 lead 1:22 into the game. Rich Peverley tied the game later in the first with his second goal in as many games, but an Alexander Semin power-play goal gave Braden Holtby all help he needed.
The series will continue at TD Garden with Game 5 on Saturday, with Game 6 being played Sunday at Verizon Center.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Because Peverley’s goal came on a line change with Campbell and Paille already on the ice, the Bruins’ top two lines still have not scored a goal this series. Peverley’s goal in Game 3 came during 4-on-4 play when he was skating with Chris Kelly.
– While some of the Bruins’ top forwards looked better on Thursday, David Krejci wasn’t one of them. The Bruins had a perfect scoring chance in the first period when Tyler Seguin entered the zone with speed and fed Krejci in front, but Krejci’s stick was not on the ice and he looked surprised by the feed. A similar play happened early in the third, when the B’s were set up in the Washington zone and a pass from Seguin to Krejci in front when through Krejci’s legs. He also couldn’t handle a pass from Andrew Ference in front about eight minutes into the third.
Krejci had just one point in the first round last year before going on to lead the NHL with 23 points.
– The Capitals were quiet in the first period, but they turned it on in the second. Washington had 15 shots on goal in the second period, and many of them were legitimate opportunities. The Bruins lucked out when Brooks Laich hit the crossbar with around 11:30 remaining in the period, but the Capitals eventually broke the tie on Semin’s goal, an absolute snipe from the right circle that beat Thomas glove side.
– Claude Julien switched up the top two lines again in the third period, going with trios of Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Rich Peverley. That’s a risky move when it comes to the Krejci line, as the trio of Lucic, Krejci and Seguin allowed a ton of goals when playing together towards the end of the regular season.
– The Bruins didn’t get their only power play of the game until over halfway through the first period, and they squandered it. They are now 0-for-12 on the man advantage this postseason.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The B’s held the Capitals to five shots on goal or less in a period for the third time this series when they kept Washington to three first-period shots on Tim Thomas. The Capitals had a full two-minute power play late in the period, making the feat even more impressive for Boston and more embarrassing for Washington. Johansson’s goal remained Washington’s only shot on goal for the first 12 minutes, as Jason Chimera didn’t get the Capitals’ second shot until there was just over seven minutes left in the period.
Two of Washington’s three shots on goal in the first period were solid opportunities, however, as Johansson’s goal came on a 2-on-1 and Thomas had to stop Jay Beagle with a kick save in front following the Capitals power play.
– Tyler Seguin was a total ghost in the first three games of the series, but he was much more active in Game 4. He was more engaged in the play, battled more and more scoring opportunities. He was stopped by Holtby early in the second period when Marchand fed him near the right circle, only to have the goaltender cut down the angle to make the save.
|Capitals lineup changes bring familiar faces vs. Bruins||at 1:38 pm ET|
WASHINGTON — Nicklas Backstrom will be out of the lineup for Game 4 after being suspended by the league for cross-checking Rich Peverley in the face. The Bruins know that, and they also know the guy jumping into the lineup in his place.
Former Bruin Mike Knuble, who had the first of his two career 30-goal seasons while playing for Boston in 2002-03, will enter the Capitals’ lineup Thursday skating on the Washington’s fourth line.
Knuble, 39, finally saw his production and playing time fall off this past season with the Caps. After totaling at least 40 points in eight straight seasons (with at least 53 in five of them), Knuble had just 18 points and a minus-15 rating in 72 games this season. He’d also scored 20 goals or more in his past eight seasons before scoring just six during this past regular season.
Based on Washington’s morning skate Thursday, Knuble will play on a line with Keith Aucoin and Joel Ward.
Knuble’s presence in place of Backstrom isn’t the only lineup change anticipated for the Capitals. Defenseman John Erskine has skated on Washington’s third pairing with Dennis Wideman in place of Jeff Schultz for the last two days, suggesting the 6-foot-4, 224-pounder should be in the lineup for the first time since Feb. 12.
The Bruins — and Milan Lucic in particular –also know Erskine well, as Lucic has fought Erskine twice in his career. Erskine pummeled Lucic on Jan. 3, 2008, which was Lucic’s ninth NHL fight. The two had a much more evenly matched bout last season.
‘It brings some toughness,” Capitals defenseman Mike Green said of having Erskine in the lineup. “You’ve seen him play. What you see is what you get. He brings a sense of humbleness to the other team. And that’s what we need.’
All in the all, the changes to Washington’s lineup means the Capitals will ice a grittier team Thursday night at the Verizon Center. Knuble obviously brings the wisdom of years, while Erskine brings a little more sandpaper. The Caps could use that vs. a very physical Bruins team, and if the series is to see its first fight Thursday, Erskine could be a likely participant.
|Tuukka Rask will remain out for Game 4||at 1:04 pm ET|
WASHINGTON — Everyone was on the ice for the Bruins in Thursday’s morning skate, and the lineup appears unchanged heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Capitals.
Tuukka Rask appears to be getting closer for the Bruins as he continues to see an increased workload in practice, but coach Claude Julien said after the morning skate that the Finnish goaltender is not yet ready to return from his abdomen/groin injury.
The lines are as follows:
Milan Lucic ‘ Patrice Bergeron ‘ Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand ‘ David Krejci ‘ Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot ‘ Chris Kelly ‘ Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille ‘ Gregory Campbell ‘ Shawn Thornton
|Adam McQuaid still not skating||04.18.12 at 4:36 pm ET|
ARLINGTON, Va. — Adam McQuaid still isn’t skating, Bruins coach Claude Julien said Wednesday. The defenseman did not travel with the team to D.C., though the team still considers him day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
McQuaid originally suffered his injury on March 29 in a game against the Capitals. A hit from Jason Chimera behind the net left McQuaid with a cut around his eye that swelled and kept him out of action until April 5. He played in only seven minutes that game before leaving in the second period. The team began calling his injury an upper-body injury prior to the playoffs.
ARLINGTON, Va. — In a postseason in which the hits have been dirtier, the play has gotten more out of control and the suspensions have been more common (nine already after there was a total of seven suspensions in the entire 2011 postseason), everyone’s looking for answers.
People want the players to police themselves more in hopes that more respect on the ice will mean less players being forced off it.
On Tuesday, agent Allan Walsh tweeted the following:
“This has spiraled from out of control to total chaos. Do we really need a player to die on the ice for this insanity to stop?”
When asked after Wednesday’s practice about cleaning up the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien mentioned Walsh and noted that less criticism and more education could solve the problem.
“I read something about an agent, it was Allan Walsh made a comment about that stuff,” Julien said, “but they’re the ones that are representing these players. These players are all apart of the [NHL Players Association] and the fact is, I can tell you right now and I’ll say it again, there’s not a coach in this league, not one, that is going to tell his players to target somebody’s head.
“Concussions are a serious and sensitive thing and I think we all respect that, so anybody who thinks otherwise is totally wrong. ‘¦ Somewhere along the line everybody’s got to try and educate the players to be a little bit more careful that’s what we keep trying to do. There’s not a game in this world that is faster than ours right now. It’s always easy to criticize but it’s sometimes tough to make those split second decisions and sometimes it will happen and the guys knows and he regrets it and he apologizes and he’s sincere, but the damage is done. Somehow we’re all trying to figure out a way to minimize that and instead of criticizing and attacking that we should all be working together in order to make it better. I think if coaches, players, general managers, the organizations and the league ‘ if we all work together including the PA that’s the best way to resolve it.”
ARLINGTON, Va. — Responses are usually saved for the ice in hockey, but on Wednesday the Bruins had to answer to something pretty serious.
On Tuesday, Washington coach Dale Hunter suggested the Boston players had been targeting the head of Nicklas Backstrom, who missed 40 games during the regular season with a concussion.
Backstrom was suspended for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals for cross-checking Bruins forward Rich Peverley in the face after the Bruins’ 4-3 victory in Game 3. Hunter said on Tuesday that because of how the Bruins had been playing against him, Backstrom had to “protect himself.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Wednesday’s practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “I don’t know any coach that would tell his team to go after somebody’s head. It speaks for itself.”
Added Julien: “It’s ludicrous. It’s ridiculous. There’s always going to be emotions in games, and there’s things that are happening. Like I said [after Game 3], there was three cross-checks. They penalized one and they suspended one. We’re not whining about the refs and we need to win the series and what’s going on here. That’s where are focus is on. That’s what it should be.”
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has returned from two major concussions in his day, and last season missed two playoff games with a concussion. He said he hasn’t gotten a sense that players target the heads of players returning from head injuries, and certainly hopes that id doesn’t happen on any team.
“I think we’re just playing playoff hockey,” Bergeron said. “We’re not worrying about who’s out there. I certainly would be the last guy to do something like that. I’ve been through it, so I don’t really worry about that, to be honest with you.”
Shawn Thornton doesn’t pay attention to other teams, whether it be their place in the standings, the scores of their games or the words that they say. One thing Thornton is sure of, however, is that Hunter’s accusation had nothing to do with a mere fourth-liner.
“I’m not on the ice against that guy anyway,” Thornton said of Backstrom, who once had 101 points in a season, “so I really don’t have to worry about it.”