PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Reilly Smith has gone without a goal in nine straight games after scoring in three straight and has just six shots on net in the four games since returning from the Olympic break. It’s about time for the top-six winger to get things going again with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “It’s certainly an opportunity for us to make the adjustments that ended up costing us. I didn’t think we were very disciplined last time we played them. For a team that has a really good power play, we took too many penalties. Obviously on our penalty kill we had some assignments there that were missed and created some scoring opportunities for them and some goals.” –Claude Julien, who watched as Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of power play goals in a loss two the Capitals less than two weeks ago.
KEY MATCHUP: It’ll be a Bruins penalty kill now ranked in the middle of the NHL against a top-flight Washington Capitals power play that’s done a nice job of finding Alex Ovechkin in places where he can do damage. The B’s PK unit has been allowing opposing power plays a whopping 25 percent success rate since Dennis Seidenberg went down at the end of December.
STAT TO WATCH: 571 – the number of NHL regular-season games played by Andrej Meszaoros. Boston defensemen Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller have played in a combined 245 NHL games.
INJURIES: Capitals forwards John Erskine (upper body), Brooks Laich (groin), Aaron Volpatti (upper body) and Mikhail Grabovski (ankle) are out. … Bruins forward Loui Eriksson (infected heel) will play Thursday, Julien said, after not practicing Wednesday nor playing Tuesday. Adam McQuaid (strained quad) has been shut down for the next 2-3 weeks and Dennis Seidenberg is out for the season.
GOALTENDING MATCHUP: Tuukka Rask will get the start for the Bruins, and attempt to net his first career regulation win against the Washington Capitals. Rask played well his last time out against the New York Rangers, and is 26-14-4 with a 2.18 goals against and .927 save percentage.
Jaroslav Halak is with the Washington Capitals, but it will be Braden Holtby getting the nod for the Caps against a Bruins team he always seems to play well against. Holtby is 19-13-3 with a 3.01 goals-against average and .909 save percentage, numbers that spurred George McPhee on to trade for another NHL goalie at the trade deadline.