Tonight at 7:30 pm, Bruce Boudreau faces off against legions of New Yorkers defending their decrepit basketball arena.
Oh, I'm sorry. There actually is a hockey game to be played.
The Washington Capitals lead the New York Rangers two games to one in their best-of-seven game series, but all anyone is talking about in the media -- both New York and D.C. -- is Boudreau's comments regarding fabled Madison Square Garden and the Rangers targeting Mike Green's head in Game Three.
Whatever Boudreau's motivation for addressing those two particular topics the other day, there's no denying that his team was badly outplayed in Game Three after playing so well in Game Two at Verizon Center.
Reports from this morning's pre-game skate from MSG brought news that Mike Knuble didn't participate, making the third straight day he hasn't skated with the team, which has to be considered a bad omen for his dressing tonight.
Knuble has been a much bigger part of this offense since the strategy shift with the Caps relying on his presence around the net. His absence would be a huge factor in this game. Look for Eric Fehr to dress if Knuble can't go and for Jason Chimera to skate on the first line in Knuble's place.
Here are three more keys for the Caps tonight:
1) The Caps need to get the jump on the Rangers. MSG will be rocking tonight after Boudreau's comments, and an early goal would go a long way in settling things down in the arena.
2) Someone needs to stand up to the Rangers agitators tonight. Avery and Prust were on top of Neuvirth all of Game Three. Better yet would be for someone to initiate the contact and get these guys off their game a little bit. Avery loves to start stuff but doesn't finish. Look for Matt Hendricks to get into someone's grill.
3) Shots! The Rangers top D pairing of Staal and Girardi have done a pretty good job keeping the shot total down against Henrik Lundqvist. Ovechkin's only SOG in Game Three was his backhanded redirect for the goal. Ovi needs to fling rubber at King Henry, the earlier the better.
Enjoy Game Four, Caps fans.