Game in a Sentence
I’m sure some people expected a 0 in the Washington goal column but the Capitals did well to hold the Bruins to one. A well goaltended and hard hitting game that gave us plenty of reason to tune in to game two.
- The Bruins came out the way we expected to, laying the body all over the Capitals and trying to establish their physicality from the outset. We saw them gain a huge upper hand by dominating physically one year ago and they’ll need to do the same this year.
- I thought Washington responded to the gauntlet thrown down the Bruins quite well. Playing on the road as heavy underdogs to a team that many expected to push them around could have been a daunting task and they held their own. I also think that Alex Ovechkin was a key reason why. He was neutralized on the scoresheet but he answered the bell once Chara and Seidenberg began to run him physically. Whether you like the guy or not, he got back up and kept going and I guarantee you every single one of his teammates noticed that.
- Braden Holtby was obviously the story of this game. He was very steady in goal and I thought he stayed remarkably composed on Boston power plays. He kept his positioning square, was very quiet with his body movement and really limited the spots the Bruins could score on him despite tons of chaos in front.
- Another point of emphasis for the Caps would be if they could pass the Bruins “punk test” that our beloved editor Justin Bourne elaborated on earlier this year. I thought they did a good job of sticking up for themselves in after the whistle situations while staying out of the box. I don’t believe the Bruins can bully their way past this Washington team.
- One final Caps-specific note: I think Troy Brouwer could be their ‘X Factor’ this series. He’s that power forward body that could be a real headache for the Bruins over the course of a full series. If I’m Dale Hunter I want him parked out front of Tim Thomas and causing problems every possession.
- Full marks to Tim Thomas for staying awake long enough to make the saves he needed to. Holtby kept the Caps in the game long enough despite no offense the other way and it would have been easy for Thomas to check out. We always hear about how much goalies love getting tested early to settle into their zone. After seven shots through two periods, it would have been hard to fault Thomas for letting one sneak by. If he’s even a shade of his 2011 Playoffs self, the Bruins could easily go back to the dance.
- Both defensive groups were great blocking shots in this one. Roman Hamrlik led the Capitals with five blocked shots while Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference led the B’s with three.
- Patrice Bergeron won 18 faceoffs in this game to just seven lost. Just a small reason why he’s my Selke pick. The guy is the consummate two-way center. Chara is great at neutralizing elite offensive talent inside the blueline, but Bergeron does it over the full sheet of ice.
- The last three trade deadlines continue to make an impact for the Bruins. Dennis Seidenberg (2010 acquisition) is eating big minutes on the top pairing, Chris Kelly (2011) scored the game winner and fellow 2011 acquisition Rich Peverley was one of the top minute getting forwards for the Bruins. Greg Zanon and Brian Rolston (2012 acquisitions) both made noticeable impacts on the game. Peter Chiarelli has been brilliant building on to this team through March trades.
- David Krejci… Ow.
- All in all a tough way for the Caps to lose this one but they know they can hang with the defending champs. Likewise, I suspect Boston is keenly aware that this isn’t your average seven seed. This is going to be a tightly contested series and it’s only going to get tighter.
My Three Stars:
1) Patrice Bergeron
2) Braden Holtby
3) Chris Kelly