Thank you Pittsburgh........I think I just threw up. But in all honesty a big thank you to the Pittsburgh Penguins for beating the Buffalo Sabres last night and putting the Capitals back in control of their destiny. Also a big thank you to the Columbus Blue Jackets who despite being the worst team in the NHL knocked off the Florida Panthers last night.The Capitals have underachieved all year but on Thursday night they went in to Boston and took 2 points from the Bruins to setup the great scenario they have going for them now.
Tonight the Capitals host the Montreal Canadiens who dwell in the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. The Caps have beaten the Habs all 3 times they've played them this year outscoring them 10-1. This Capitals team has a habit of playing to the level of their competition this year so lets hope that doesn't happen tonight. The Caps have to come out with the intensity of a playoff team playing a team with nothing left to look forward to but Pebble Beach or Augusta. If the Caps come out any other way than that and the Habs could get the upset tonight and throw a gigantic monkey wrench in the Caps playoff hopes.
Tonight's game could mark the return of Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom who has been out since Rene Bourque threw a cheap shot elbow to Backstrom's head. Bourque then a Calgary Flame just so happens to play for these Montreal Canadiens now so it will be interesting to see if any kind of retribution is seeked, though I doubt it will be. The Capitals have bigger things to worry about like making the playoffs then worrying about Bourque and his awful soon to be done teammates.
The goal-tending match-up tonight will see the Montreal Canadiens throw Peter Budaj to the crease. Budaj started a game earlier this year against the Caps and gave up 3 in a loss in February, and against the Caps in his career is 0-2 with a goals against average of 3.46 and a save percentage of .857. For the Caps it will be Michal Neuvirth who has started 2 games against the Habs this year and has stopped 61 of 62 shots faced. For his career against Montreal Neuvy has a 3-1 record with a 1.82 GAA and a .935 SV%.
JASON CHIMERA UPDATE:
For those of you wondering about weather or not Jason Chimera would face further discipline from the NHL for his hit on Adam McQuaid, HE WILL NOT! He was penalized to harshly for it in the first place so good for the NHL for not going too far on Chimera.
PLAYERS TO WATCH TONIGHT:
NICKLAS BACKSTROM C, WASHINGTON = Should he return tonight it will be interesting to see where he is at physically and mentally. For the Caps sake and hopes of advancing in the playoffs he's gotta comeback and get up to speed quickly.
DMITRY ORLOV D, WASHINGTON = He has played great lately, and has been getting physical including a big hit on league wide tough guy Milan Lucic of the Bruins Thursday. Tonight I look for him to be a physical force and show some offensive flare.