High fives all around

Game in a Sentence:

The Washington Capitals are showing what they can do with stellar goaltending as they continue to hang with the defending champs and now the Caps hold a series lead heading back to Washington.

Observations:

- This series should be entertaining the lot of you at this point because this season’s “biggest disappointment” winner is doing a number on the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins. It has been an incredibly fun and hard fought series to this point.

- A thought on Alex Semin: He now has three playoff goals in five playoff games this year. His performance has largely been dismissed. Why? Each year it has been his lack of production that indicates a guy who simply “doesn’t care” and this year he has played good two-way hockey AND found a way to contribute offensively as expected. To not give him credit for good play in April would be unfair. There, credit given.

- If Patrice Bergeron and Joe Corvo can’t go in game six, the Bruins are in serious trouble. Both of those players are a shot to the team’s defensive depth out of the lineup and in a series that has been decided by one goal each game, defensive depth is the thing you can’t afford to lose. The Caps haven’t been scoring much but things would definitely open up for them without those guys Corvo jokes aside. Let’s not forget how much of an advantage last change at home is when they can get Ovechkin on the ice against whoever they want.

- Jay Beagle is one of those guys that the Capitals have been lacking contributions from in years past. Just a pure hustle guy. The offensive work put in during their previous playoff runs by guys outside the top six has left something to be desired, but this year they’ve received much more consistent effort from their grind it out players. Obviously Beagle didn’t look like Mario Lemieux on the goal but they count the same.

- John Erskine and Dennis Wideman should probably be split up, oh, I don’t know, yesterday. Those two playing on the same pairing have been abysmal to this point. On the first Boston goal tonight Erskine obscures the puck from Holtby’s view as Seidenberg prepares to shoot, and they were both out of position on the Marchand goal, allowing the pest to poke it in past Holtby. More evidence:

- To harp on a point I made after game four, these teams are relying heavily on counterattack systems and the Knuble goal was another perfect example of that. The Capitals generated the chance off the rebound by turning around a failed Boston dump and chase attempt. Good work by Ward up front leads to a shot which is kicked right on to Knuble’s blade. That, my friends, is how it’s done.

- The Bruins, meanwhile, have generated their best chances by utilizing their point men. All three of their goals today were generated from the blueline thanks to good puck movement. The Capitals have excelled collapsing down low and letting pucks hit them and the Bruins are getting their best chances by forcing them to gravitate to the puck down low, sending it back to the blueline and hoping to find a gap.

– Tim Thomas had another sub .900 save percentage in today’s game and I’m starting to wonder if he’s not playing well enough after all. This was a game where you can’t really argue that he wasn’t tested enough to get into the flow of play and he still struggled. Simply put that Brouwer goal was abysmal for a goaltender to allow. If he doesn’t have a stellar game in Washington, that’s probably all she wrote on this Bruins season.

- At this point, what else can you say about Braden Holtby? The guy has been stellar from puck drop in game one and made several huge saves in a hostile Boston building. It would have been hard to fault a guy at this stage in his career for wilting under the pressure and he put in a great performance. No reason to not expect more of the same.

- I expect another great chapter of this series in Washington for game six and I think the Caps will come away with this series then. I’m not going to say that I’m the only guy or gal here who picked the Caps to win (in six no less!) so I’ll link to the post that has it.

My Three Stars:

1) Troy Brouwer
2) Braden Holtby
3) Dennis Seidenberg