The Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets meet for third time this season on Saturday as the Blue Jackets come to town in snowy Washington (7 p.m, NBC Sports Washington). Here are four things you should be watching in Saturday’s game.
What’s up Bob?
The Blue Jackets did not skate Saturday so it is unclear who will start in net, but presumably Sergei Bobrovsky will get his first start since a mysterious incident that led to an unofficial one-game suspension by the team. Everyone says it’s water under the bridge and everyone is ready to move on, but you’ve got to wonder what his and the team’s mindset will be heading into Saturday’s game.
Will Bobrovsky be mentally ready for this game? Will he take out his frustrations on the Caps with a solid performance or will his mind be elsewhere on Saturday?
In two appearances against Washington this season, Bobrovsky was brilliant in the first as he held the Caps to just one goal on 34 shots in a 2-1 win. In the second performance, he lasted only one period after giving up three goals on 13 shots.
An opportunity for Travis Boyd
Todd Reirden has been stressing lately that there will be no more player rotation and that he intends to reward players who take advantage of their opportunities. To that end, Boyd will play right wing on the third line for the second straight game.
“He’s a pretty intelligent player,” Lars Eller said. “He can make some moves, makes plays. He’s trying to make plays when he has the puck. I like playing with him.”
With Andre Burakovsky being scratched for the second straight game, it seems like there is an opportunity here for the taking for Boyd if he can take advantage.
Powerless power plays
Since Dec. 15, Washington has scored only two power play goals on 37 opportunities. That’s the worst rate in the league at 5.4-percent. The second worst? Columbus who has managed only two goals on 26 opportunities for 7.7-percent.
I talked to several players after Saturday’s morning skate who expect a physical game given these are two heavier, hard-hitting teams. There should be plenty of opportunities for someone to break out on the power play.
The bad news is that during that same stretch, both teams have been fairly decent on the penalty kill. Columbus ranks fifth at 87-percent and Washington is 11th at 82.9-percent.
Revenge for December
The last time these two teams met, it was billed as a big-time matchup as both teams were vying for first place in the division. The Caps went into Columbus with a one-point lead over the Jackets meaning the winner would take first place in the standings.
The game was rather one-sided with Washington taking a 3-0 in the first period and cruising to the 4-0 win.
This is a Columbus team that needs to show it can deliver when it matters. It may not be the playoffs, but make no mistake, the Blue Jackets have something to prove heading into Saturday’s game.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- The rematch that wasn't: Lars Eller not happy with Brad Marchand for ducking scrap
- By the Numbers: Caps continue to dominate Bruins rivalry
- The Future: What Alexeyev's strong performance at World Juniors says
- Power Rankings: Race far from over in the Metro