Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I know what you're thinking....."finally, a damn game preview blog. What the hell has this slacker Kynch been doing?". Simple answer is, I've been slacking. Longer answer is, I was in Prague for the first two games, and let's just say internet availability there is a little sketchy (plus I really didn't feel like blogging from my phone, my sole source of internet access). Saturday, I was totally slacking, playing some golf on the Cape (Cape Cod for you out of towners!). But hey, that's the past. I'm here now and ready to give this a whirl. So let's jump right into it, shall we?
Let's see, when you play against the Caps, what is your first priority? Obviously, it's containing that Norris trophy shoe-in Karl Alzner, right? No? Oh, that's right. They DO have some kid named Ovechkin, who I think is going to turn into a decent NHL prospect one of these days. Maybe the B's should focus on him. And from all indications, that is exactly what coach Julien is doing. Looks like Chara and Seidenberg will be the top pairing again tonight, to slow down the Caps top line (just as they were paired together to stop New Jersey's top heavy first line). "OV" is off to his usual hot start, potting 4G & 4A in Washington's first 5 games. He has a point in every contest. As goes Ovechkin, so go the Caps. As Tim Thomas (tonight's likely starter) mentioned, it seems as though when Ovechkin is flying, the rest of his team follows suit. If you slow him down, the others tend to lose a step as well. Sounds like a simple plan, but it's easier said than done. On the bright side, even if Washington, as the home team, is able to avoid Chara/Seidenberg with creative line changes, the Bruins may still be OK. In the preseason game, where the B's played very short handed, Johnny Boychuck had a HUGE game against Ovechkin. I lost track of how many times OV was thwarted in one on one situations against Johnny B. Even the Caps announcers were raving about his play. Let's hope that translates to tonight.
But Ovechkin, despite being the ring leader of that circus, is far from the only threat. Semin and Backstrum are both deadly in their own right. The B's catch something of a break, as it appears Mike Green will sit this one out. Not that I'm a fan of Green, as I think he is HORRIBLE in his own end, but some of the Caps fast break offense is missing without him in the lineup. However, the Caps have a suitable replacement for him, in Natick Ma.'s own John Carlson. The rookie is second in team scoring, with 1G & 5A.
From the Boston side of things, you can't ask for much more balance than they got Saturday against the Devils. After playing a sloppy first period, the B's rallied with four goals in the second period. One from each line. Tough to beat that, and makes for some match-up issues for Bruce Boudreau & company. If the Bruins play their simple, defense first style, they can absolutely beat the Caps, or anyone else. When they fail to pay attention to detail, like game one in Prague, they're very beatable. I expect nothing short of a solid effort from them tonight, as they're well aware this is their first real"test". They've played a struggling Devils squad, and a hit or miss Coyotes team. Tonight, they get to prove themselves against some of the iron in the Eastern conference.
Washington went out and got tough guy DJ King from St. Louis this off season. King is a legit middle-heavyweight. IF he's in the Caps lineup tonight, you can bank on him paying Shawn Thornton a visit. This is one of those match-ups that I love for Thornton. Should be a very entertaining bout when (and if) these two get together. Both love to trade punches, and in my book are fairly evenly matched. DJ King, while tough, isn't the kind of guy I was talking about when I praised the B's for signing McGrattan. This is the type of fighter Thornton should handle (or possibly Lucic, depending on the situation).
Whether King is in the lineup or not, I also wouldn't be surprised if former B's prospect Matt Hendricks drops the gloves as well. Hendricks is no heavyweight, but has definitely shown a willingness to "go". My gut tells me he does tonight, and Mark Stuart is the one to oblige him.
Well, since I've always been SO accurate with my predictions, I figured I'd keep it going this year. I see the Bruins winning this one (shocking, I know). Look for a 3-2 game, with Horton, Bergeron and Chara your scorers for the good guys. On the other side, old friend Mike Knuble scores against us, if for no other reason than he ALWAYS seems to score against the B's. Going off the map a bit with their other goal, but I see Eric Fehr getting it.
Keep your elbow tucked,