For years, the Boston Bruins struggled to beat the Washington Capitals, but the Bruins have won the last five meetings, including both games this season. In the last meeting, Boston rolled to a 7-3 victory. The seven goals are the most scored by Boston against Washington since 2019.
Washington is 11-4-4 on the road while Boston is 12-7-1 at home. Scoring goals at home has been a bit of an issue for the Bruins, who score 2.9 goals at TD Garden and 3.31 on the road. As for the Capitals, their 11.5 power-play percentage on the road is the worst among teams currently in playoff position.
Both the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins are a little lower in the odds to win the Stanley Cup than they have been in recent years. The Capitals (+1600) are tied with the division rival New York Rangers for the seventh-best odds while the Bruins (+2000) come in at No. 10 and eighth among Eastern Conference teams.
Washington winger Alexander Ovechkin has the second-best odds at +285 to win the Hart Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL. Boston wingers Brad Marchand (+2700) and David Pastrnak (+3000) are both in the top 10.
Game: Washington Capitals (22-9-9) at Boston Bruins (22-12-2)
Location: TD Garden
Day/Time: Thursday, 7 p.m. ET
Capitals vs Bruins
Washington Looking to Break Out of Funk
In the early part of the season, it was clear not to pick against the Washington Capitals when they were coming off losses.
After an 0-3-1 start to the season, Washington soon developed the reputation for shaking off rough outings, which would be expected for such an experienced team.
Seven times, the Capitals posted multiple-goal wins after losing in their previous game. However, that bounce-back ability hasn’t been evident in January.
An overtime loss at home to the New Jersey Devils began a four-game losing streak, with Washington failing to register a point in two of the four games. An overtime win over Winnipeg the last time out has the Capitals in third place in the Metropolitan Division.
The surprising New York Rangers lead the division with 56 points. Carolina, despite playing four fewer games than the Capitals, is second with 54 points with Washington one point back. Pittsburgh is only two points behind Washington with two games in hand, so there is some work to do for the Capitals.
Seven of the eight Capital forwards who have seen the most ice time in 2022 have negative plus/minus ratings and that will need to change moving forward.
The Capitals will likely be without veteran forward T.J. Oshie due to an upper-body injury. Oshie has played in just 18 games.
Laviolette said T.J. Oshie (upper body) skating before the Capitals optional practice today was a step, but sounds like he’s a bit away from being ready to play.
“That’s good that he’s out there and that’s a step, so that’s a positive.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) January 19, 2022
The total set by the NHL betting lines has gone over in 13 of Washington’s last 20 games.
Shaking Up Lineup Paying Dividends for Boston
The one constant in recent years for the Boston Bruins has been the “Perfection Line” of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak hitting the ice together.
However, when the Bruins began having issues scoring goals, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy did the unthinkable and split up one of the NHL’s most feared and productive lines.
Craig Smith joined Marchand and Bergeron while Pastrnak began playing with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula. It is hard to argue with the aftermath of the line juggling.
Marchand leads all NHL players with nine goals in January while Pastrnak is second with eight.
They do play together when Boston is on the power play, and both Marchand and Pastrnak have three power-play goals in 2022. Hall has 11 points in 10 games in January while Haula and Smith have also benefited from the move.
A bigger issue to having all hands on deck as only eight players have appeared in every game in January due to COVID-19 protocols and injuries. The defensive corps has been especially impacted — Brandon Carlo is the only Boston blue-liner to play in all 10 games in 2022.
None of the lines were particularly effective in Tuesday’s 7-1 drubbing by Carolina.
“We were on a roll and playing some good hockey,” Bergeron said after the game. “When you start doing that, the league takes notice and teams are ready for you. That’s the next step we have to learn.”
The Bruins have won five of their last six games and they were listed as the favorite by the Las vegas odds in four of those contests.
Orlov Suspension Leaves Washington shorthanded
The teams have been heading in different directions in 2022.
Boston has the third-best points percentage in the NHL (second in the Eastern Conference behind the Florida Panthers). The Bruins are 8-2 even with a humbling 7-1 home loss to Carolina the last time out. The Capitals are only 2-3-2 and have been outscored 25-17 in January. Only seven teams have allowed more goals per game in January than the 3.57 given up by Washington.
The Capitals could be shorthanded on the back end as defenseman Dmitry Orlov was suspended for two games for kneeing Winnipeg forward Nikolaj Ehlers. If he doesn’t appeal the suspension, he will be out of Thursday’s game. It is a tough blow for a team already missing its best defenseman, as John Carlson is on injured reserve.
Something of note to those who bet online: The total has gone under in four of Washington’s last five games on the road