Capitals vs. Bruins Preview
BOSTON, MA (AP) - The cameras are rolling on the Washington Capitals, but the reigning Presidents' Trophy winners aren't doing much lately to warrant the attention.
With the team the focus of a television show leading up to the Winter Classic on New Year's Day, the sputtering Capitals will be eager to snap a seven-game losing streak Saturday night when they visit the Boston Bruins.
After Washington (18-11-4) lost 2-1 in overtime to Anaheim on Wednesday, HBO aired the first episode of "24/7: Penguins-Capitals, Road to the NHL Winter Classic," with Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau already gaining attention for his profanity-laced language.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGlobal.com have made the Bruins -130 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Capitals. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 68% of more than 102 bets for this game have been placed on the Bruins -130.
Boudreau hasn't had much to be happy about lately, with his team in its longest losing streak since he took over Nov. 22, 2007 - and its Southeast Division lead in danger of vanishing Saturday.
Washington's vaunted offense, which easily led the league in scoring last season, has been held to nine goals despite 261 shots (37.3 per game) during the skid.
"When they're not going in, they're not going in," forward Brooks Laich said Wednesday. "But I thought our team did a great job without the puck. If we play like that, we are going to get rewarded for it."
Boudreau was also pleased with the Capitals' performance after they outshot the Ducks 32-24. It was certainly an improvement from Sunday's 7-0 loss to the New York Rangers.
"I thought we did everything we could," Boudreau said. "I see us winning a lot of hockey games in the future. Right now, it's frustrating."
Washington could certainly use some help from a struggling power play. The Caps are 2 for 25 with the man advantage in their last six games, a major drought for a unit that converted an NHL-best 25.2 percent of the time last season.
Alex Ovechkin, meanwhile, has two goals in his last 15 games, and Mike Green - the league's top-scoring defenseman each of the past two seasons - has one point in his last 11 contests. Alexander Semin, who leads the Caps with 18 goals, will miss this game with a lower-body injury.
Facing a Boston team that leads the NHL with a 2.00 goals-against average doesn't figure to help, but the Bruins (16-10-4) are also trying to end a season-worst three-game skid.
Boston had a chance to tie Montreal atop the Northeast Division on Thursday, but lost 4-3 at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens took control in the first period, outshooting the Bruins 17-9 while grabbing a 3-1 lead.
Boston has been outshot in the first 20 minutes of each game during its skid, but coach Claude Julien hopes the Bruins get off to a fast start Saturday while taking advantage of the Capitals' psychological woes.
"No matter who you are, when teams go through those things ... they're desperate and fragile," Julien told the Bruins' official website. "For us, it's a matter of making sure we get a real good start and then play our game and hopefully put them on the fragile side."
The Bruins have found some success against Washington this season. They swept a home-and-home series on Oct. 19 and 21, with Tim Thomas stopping 73 of 75 shots.
Washington got some revenge Nov. 5, chasing Thomas after two periods of a 5-3 home win.
Thomas, 12-4-2 in his career against the Caps, continues to lead the NHL with a 1.63 GAA, but he has lost consecutive starts for the first time all season to fall to 14-3-3.