Preview: Bruins vs. Capitals

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Preview: Bruins vs. Capitals

BOSTON -- There's plenty of motivation for both the Bruins and Capitals when they face off Thursday night at TD Garden.
The Caps should be full of vim and vigor Thursday night, given that they're on deaths door in the playoff race. The Bruins, meanwhile, need one more win to clinch a postseason berth.
Given the pride inside the Washington dressing room, one would expect a fight from players like Alex Semin and Alexander Ovechkin . . . considering what could loom for the Capitals if they dont find their way into the playoffs. Though there has been signs of life lately, there are also seems to be some resignation that they built themselves too big a hole to escape.
As for the Bruins, they're overflowing with confidence and finally starting to look like themselves again and they dont appear ready to loosen that kung-fu grip. Coach Claude Julien likes the challenge of playing a dangerous team in Washington.
They'll play Thursday without Dennis Seidenberg, who will miss the game with an infection stemming from a cut in his leg suffering against the Kings last weekend. That cant be underestimated given the big part the German defenseman plays in moving the puck and controlling things in the defensive end.
The desperation makes it tough, said Julien. I like those kinds of challenges. Those are the challenges you need to finish the season with and bring the best out of your hockey club. Were going to have to be at our best if we expect to win tonight.
At the end of 60 minutes it will probably be about which team was much more desperate for the two points and thats as it should be. PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Joe Corvo was scratched for six straight games and watched the Bruins win five of those six while watching the defense stabilize in their own end. With Dennis Seidenberg out of the lineup, Corvo gets the chance hes been waiting for while biding his time watching games from the press box. Its been pretty clear Corvo hasnt enjoyed sitting on the bench with the playoffs looming, and this is best chance to turn things around for himself. DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: There is so much for us to play for right now. Were battling for home-ice advantage and being No. 2 in our conference. As a team, our game is coming along in the last five or six games but we cant sit back. We cant take any games lightly and its time to build some good momentum with six games left. Were getting there . . . close to playing the way we want to play. David Krejci, feeling plenty of urgency with six games left in the season.KEY MATCHUP: Tomas Vokoun is 2-1 with a 3.02 goals against average and a .904 save percentage against the Bruins and should get the start against Boston on Thursday night. Itll be up to Bostons top-six forwards to finally get themselves completely untracked and start throwing rubber at the Washington net. Given the hard times Washington has been through recently a couple of quick goals could do much to discourage the desperate Capitals, who are out of the playoff picture if they find themselves on the losing end. STAT TO WATCH: 8 the plusminus of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in three meetings against the Capitals along with five points apiece.INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strain) and Nathan Horton (concussion) are both out without a return close in sight, but Rask may try to get on the ice next week. Seidenberg (infected leg cut) is out against the Capitals and considered day-to-day at this point. Caps first-line center Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) has been cleared, but won't play Thursday after skating for 90 minutes at Washingtons morning skate.GOALTENDING MATCHUP: Tim Thomas finally got a rest after appearing in 16 straight games, and the 37-year-old should be at the top of his game after appearing to hit a groove over the last two weeks. Thomas is 4-1 with a .942 in his last five games, and appears to have found the second wind that eluded him when he played in the 16 straight appearances for the Bruins. The Capitals have been trying to find a winning combo between the pipes, and have jostled between Vokoun and Michael Nuevirth through much of the season. Vokoun should get the start against the Bruins after winning two of the first three outings against the Bruins this season.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

As the NBA trade deadline gets closer and closer, A. Sherrod Blakely helps shed some light as to why the Boston Celtics may be unwilling to part ways with Jae Crowder