Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 11:01 p.m.
By Joe Beninati
Earlier today I asked Boston Coach Claude Julien what might happen if his team didnt play a smart road game against the Capitals. He said if we dont play an intelligent game, well be in our own zone all night long because Washington has the talent and ability to play puck possession hockey with the best in the league. As it turned out, the Bruins didnt have anything to fear. They played a strong game between the bluelines, and were opportunistic when the Caps made mistakes. Its something the black and gold thrive on.
There werent very many odd-man rushes in this game, but the Bs took advantage of one near the midway mark of the first period. The line of Nathan Horton, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic will be tough to defend throughout the early portion of this season, and they converted a pretty 2-on-1 break to give the visitors the lead. Krejci wasted no time driving a feed from Horton past the out-stretched leg pad of Michal Neuvirth. The young goalie lost control of a rebound some two and a half minutes later and Lucic swatted in a backhand to make it 2-zip. Neuvirth exited the game 45 seconds later. We were told he has the flu and that prompted the entrance of Semyon Varlamov.
During a bench interview, Bruce Boudreau offered that his team was playing pretty well and I would agree by saying they seemed to be battling for the puck more than the reports indicated last weekend from Nashville. Hockeys a strange game sometimes; the Caps won a contest against the Predators Saturday in which they played worse than the game they eventually lost tonight.
The locals had some hope in the second period when Marcus Johansson cashed in his first NHL goal. Jason Chimera made a nice pass from behind the net into a small window to MoJo, who didnt have much room to beat Tim Thomas.
Thomas is moving much more like the Vezina Trophy winner he was in 2009 compared to the way he finished last year, when Tuuka Rask took away his starting job. Julien may elect to stay with the hot hand on Thursday when these two teams see each other again in Boston.
Thomas has won all three of his decisions so far and given up the grand total of two goals.
Varlamov looked solid in his first game action of the fall. There were no signs of the groin muscle injury that caused him to sit out the first five games. He never saw Matt Hunwicks long wrist shot in the third period, the one that gave the Bruins a cushion.
There were a couple of fights in this outing. Matt Hendricks and Gregory Campbell continued their spat from the preseason, with Hendricks still ticked off at Campbell for a boarding hit on Alex Ovechkin. Later John Erskine and Milan Lucic dropped the gloves and exchanged heavy rights.
Ovechkin, Backstrom and Knuble were neutralized by the Bruins in the first of this home and home set. Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk played well in the Boston zone, but you can expect the Caps top line to bring more jump Thursday in Beantown. See you on CSN!