The Washington Capitals skated for the final time this morning before tonight’s winner take all contest against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.
“Both teams are going to battle,” Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said. “It will come down to execution, it usually does, but the effort will be here definitely. They’re going to bust their tails and have fun with it.”
The Caps have had success in Boston this season. Including the regular season, the Caps are 4-1 in five games at TD Garden this season and the road team has won four of the six playoff games in the series. In fact, the series has been so close that every game so far has been a one goal game and it’s the first time in NHL history that the first six games of a series have been decided by only one goal.
“I don’t think we’ve really got on them early in many of the games, they’ve usually taken it to us in the first period,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said on their success in Boston this season. “I find that we do a good job of still being excited and playing with a lot of emotion in this building for an entire sixty minutes. We’ve been a team that’s struggled with sixty minute games all year. For a reason we come in here and play for sixty. I think it’s the fact that it’s a real challenge to beat these guys and all the guys on this team really enjoy that challenge and love try to prove people wrong.”
The Caps are 2-7, 0-1 on the road, all-time in Game 7 playoff tilts. In the last four previous playoff runs the Caps compiled a 1-3 Game 7 record, with each of those games played at the Verizon Center. The Bruins on the other hand are 12-10 all-time in Game 7 scenarios. They captured three go-or-go-home victories en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup last season.
Alexander Semin was the only Caps player not to take part in the optional morning skate today, but he is expected to play.
The Caps line-up tonight could look like this: Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Johansson-Backstrom-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Chimera, Knuble-Aucoin-Ward, Alzner-Carlson, Hamrlik-Green, Schultz-Wideman.
Jeff Schultz, who is a -4 in three games played in the series and hasn’t played in the last three games, looks to be back in the line-up and paired with Dennis Wideman tonight.
The Caps likely healthy scratches are Orlov, Erskine, Perreault, Halpern & Sjogren. Halpern, Orlov and Sjogren have yet to appear in the series.
Braden Holtby (3-3, 2.18 GAA, .935 save pct.) will make his seventh straight playoff start for the Caps in goal and he’ll face Tim Thomas (3-3, 2.18 GAA, .922 save pct.) for the Bruins.
“It’s going to be another tight game,” Caps forward Jason Chimera said. “I don’t see no reason why it shouldn’t be another tight game. Every games been so close and like I said it could’ve gone either way so far. It’s going to be a fun game. It’s going to be a hard fought game. It’s going to be close.”
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Jason Chimera, Troy Brouwer & Karl Alzner had to say following the morning skate today.
Dale Hunter Morning Skate Audio
Alex Ovechkin Morning Skate Audio
Braden Holtby Morning Skate Audio
Jason Chimera Morning Skate Audio
Troy Brouwer Morning Skate Audio
Karl Alzner Morning Skate Audio