BOSTON — While his team was taking its pregame skate at TD Banknorth Garden, Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau was asked if making up 10 points with 33 games left is a realistic task for his club.

“What for Carolina catching us?” the always affable Boudreau joked.

But he was obviously being asked about catching the Boston Bruins, a climb that begins tonight with the second meeting in 10 days between the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.

“Everything’s possible. I don’t put limitations on them,” Boudreau then said. “I think our task last year was more daunting than our task this year. Even though … Boston’s not going to go through slumps. So you’re going to have to win at a .750 percentage, I think, to give yourself an opportunity to do that. Whether that’s possible or not, we don’t know. All I know is if we play as good as we can in every game, then there’s a chance for us to win every game. And then who knows?”

The Bruins’ position should be bolstered starting tonight with the return of Patrice Bergeron to the Boston line-up. Boudreau knows what having their alternate captain back means to the Bruins.

“He’s a great player. He was only 19 when he was in the American League. But he was a great player; he did everything for them – the power play, penalty killing, every situation. And he’s continued to do that up here,” the Caps coach said. “Unfortunately for him, he’s had the history of the concussions. But other than that, he’s one of those Bryan Trottier-type guys, where maybe he doesn’t hit like Bryan Trottier hit, but he’s a very good offensively player, a very good defensive player. You put him in all kinds of situations. He’s one of those guys you want because you can win with.”