Here are five thoughts from today's game with the Bruins grounding the Washington Capitals by a 4-1 score after 60 minutes of action at TD Garden.
- Milan Lucic took the criticism to heart and applied it out on the ice in the first period. He hustled and crashed on the fore-check and took pucks from Troy Brouwer and Jack Hillen that turned into one-timer goals for linemates Nathan Horton and David Krejci. That’s exactly what Claude Julien was looking for from that top line and from one of his best forwards, and that’s exactly what he received in the first 20 minutes. Horton’s goal was his first in nine games during the month of March.
- A good, quality 20 minutes in the books for the Bruins. They’ve done this before, and they’ve done this before against the Washington Capitals. Now it’s up to the B’s to keep the foot on the gas pedal for a full 60 minutes as they apply pressure on a reeling Caps team.
- Tough period for Johnny Boychuk. He went down the runway and missed a couple of shifts after a leg-on-leg collision with Aaron Volpatti and then took an Alex Ovechkin bomb from the high point off his back. Small consolation for Boychuk’s pain: the Bruins went right down the other end of the ice and scored their first goal of the game directly afterward.
- A couple of shots on goal for Alex Ovechkin, who looks like he brought the good stuff today. But a thumbs down on No. 8 for bumping Johnny Boychuk as he limped on a gimpy left leg to get off the ice following the collision with Volpatti. Combine that with his spear to Brad Marchand’s groin in their first meeting in DC this season, and it would appear Ovie is playing some dirty pool.
- Who doesn’t love Rene Rancourt in a green vest and bowtie? Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everybody out there.
- The Bruins are 4-0-0 in afternoon games this year. Interesting stat as they’ve struggled in afternoon games in year’s past.
- David Krejci line on fire today. Not only have they been behind all three goals for the Bruins, but it was a poorly conceived clearing attempt by David Krejci in front of the Boston net that bounced off Johnny Boychuk’s skate for Washington’s only goal. Krejci, Lucic and Horton have all responded in a big way this afternoon.
- Matt Hendricks was running around looking for trouble all afternoon, and nearly derailed Andrew Ference’s first goal of the season when he nearly dropped gloves with Adam McQuaid as each player came out of the penalty box. Finally Hendricks and Nathan Horton dropped ‘em at the end of the second period with Horton slamming the Washington scrapper to the ice after Hendricks caught him by surprise with a few punches.
- Brad Marchand vs. Mike Ribeiro. That would have been a pay-per-view event if somebody fought Ribeiro during his early Montreal days, and it was still a good srcap between instigators. Looked like it started with Ribeiro complaining about a lack of a call to refs, and Marchand telling him to shut up and play. Marchand caught him with a few good upper cuts and looked much more sure of himself than in last year’s fight with P.K. Subban.
- Nathan Horton with the Gordie Howe hat trick today: a goal, an assist and a fight. Three points and a plus-2, and there was one shift where Horton and Lucic abused the Capitals defenseman with four or five heavy, board-rattling hits in the corner. Today is the most that Horton has looked like the best version of his former self after the concussions, if you can follow that logic.
- My only critique of the Krejci line: I wish that Horton and Lucic had executed the full “Top Gun” high five they executed after their first goal of the game. Instead it was simply a pretty good drive-by high-fiver.
- Matt Hendricks finally paid the piper in the third period when both Adam McQuaid and Shawn Thornton had him cornered for jumping Horton, and McQuaid pounded the scrappy Washington forward. Hendricks then had to leave with a right hand injury and chirped a fan on his way down the runway that he had his eye on them. That guy clearly got up on the wrong side of the bed today.
- Second period fight by Mike Ribeiro was his first at any level or pro hockey. Not shocked in the least by that factoid.
- Bruins finally played 60 minutes of intense hockey today. The question now is whether it’s because the Capitals have given up on the season, or if the Bruins are hitting their stride. There should an answer tomorrow afternoon against the Penguins.
- A couple of scoring chances for Alex Ovechkin in the first period, but he’s been invisible ever since.
- Another power play goal for the Bruins today: they have PP scores in five of their last nine games.