BOSTON (CBSDC) — The Washington Capitals (42-32-8, 92 points) play the Boston Bruins (49-29-4, 102 points) in Beantown tonight for game one of the 2011-2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
“We feel good,” Capitals veteran Brooks Laich said following the morning skate. “Good morning skate, just like usual. Normal routine.”
This is the first playoff series in the last five seasons that the Caps will not have home ice advantage and rookie goalie Braden Holtby (4-2-1, 2.50 GAA, .922 Save pct.) will get his first NHL playoff start in net.
“Just try to go about my usual ways,” Holtby said on his mindset today. “Start changing things up you get too wrapped up in everything. Just want to go have fun”
Holtby has played in 16 playoff games during his pro career, none of which were in the NHL. He played in nine of the games with the Hershey Bears of the AHL and seven in the WHL for the Saskatoon Blades. In his 21 career NHL games, Holtby is 14-4-3 with a 2.02 GAA and .929 save percentage.
Veteran goalie Dany Sabourin will back up Holtby as Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun remain sidelined with injuries. Neuvirth did skate following the morning skate and is listed as day-to-day. Vokoun didn’t make the trip to Boston.
Alex Ovechkin and Jay Beagle opted not to partake in the optional morning skate. Beagle usually never misses a skate, but Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter says he’s alright.
“He’s fine,” Hunter said on Beagle. “He just did the option, that’s all.”
Mike Knuble could take warm-ups if there is any question into whether or not Beagle can play tonight.
Ovechkin is good to go and it isn’t unusual for him not to take the option not to skate in the mornings.
Caps projected forward lines if Beagle can skate tonight: Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Chimera-Backstrom-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Johansson, Aucoin-Perreault-Ward.
The Caps likely defenseman pairings: Schultz-Wideman, Hamrlik-Green, Alzner-Carlson.
The definite Caps healthy scratches are: Halpern, Orlov, Eakin, Erskine, Sjogren.
One thing to look out for tonight is the Caps are 25-0-1 when leading after two periods, while the Bruins are 32-0-0.
Tim Thomas (35-19-1, 2.36 GAA, .920 Save pct.) is in goal tonight for the Bruins.
The face-off is at 7:30 and Boston native Keith Aucoin, who is making his NHL playoff debut tonight, summed it up perfectly.
“I’m excited to get going,” he said.
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, Braden Holtby and Keith Aucoin had to say following the morning skate today.
Dale Hunter Morning Skate Audio
Alex Ovechkin Morning Skate Audio
Brooks Laich Morning Skate Audio
Braden Holtby Morning Skate Audio
Keith Aucoin Morning Skate Audio