The Bruins are always wary going into Capital One Arena given the recent history between the Bruins and Washington Capitals, where the Caps have dominated the Black and Gold for the better part of the last 10 years.
Sure, the Bruins have sprinkled in a win here or there, but the big, fast and skilled Capitals team has routinely pushed Boston around in these matchups between Eastern Conference powers and was the victor in the only recent playoff series between the two teams way back in 2012.
This season, the Capitals and Bruins are No. 1 and No. 2 in the Eastern Conference in terms of record and points through the first two-plus months of the season, and Washington won in a shootout in the teams' only matchup earlier this season in Boston.
Both teams lost in their last games, so there will be hunger for both elite clubs to get back into the win column. But things should be a lttle more desperate for a Bruins team that’s lost three games in a row, including back-to-back regulation games for the first time this season, and has seen their lead in the division “drop” to 10 points with a surging Florida Panthers club chasing them.
“Over the years they have had the better of us, so we’d better be ready to play. Their record this year backs that up,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’re more concerned about ourselves, but the opposition tonight should get our attention. We’ll see how it all plays out.”
More than anything, however, the Bruins have seemed to lack focus or motivation in the last couple of weeks with forgettable opponents like the Senators and Blackhawks getting the better of them while they hold a commanding lead in their own division. It goes without saying that the challenge of the big, tough and dangerous Capitals should be exactly what the Bruins need to rise to the occasion, and that will be followed on Thursday night by a date with the Tampa Bay Lighting in Amalie Arena.
“[The Capitals] are obviously very dominant. They’ve had our number over the last several years, so it’s definitely one we tend to pay a little more attention to,” said Brad Marchand. “It’s always a hard building to play in. [It’s] a loud, obnoxious crowd so they gain energy from that. It’s a game we know we have to be prepared for. It doesn’t always go our way, so hopefully this one will.”
If anything can snap the Bruins out of their recent self-induced slumber over the last week, it’s the natural challenge of playing against a Capitals team that’s served as the ultimate challenge for them over most of the last decade.
Watch tonight's Bruins-Capitals game on NBCSN beginning at 7 p.m., or live stream the game by clicking here.