Sunday, January 18, 2009
The Capitals match up very well with the Bruins. Although Boston is still 9 points ahead of Washington for the top spot in the East, if the two were to play a 7 game series right now, I'd have to give the edge to Washington.
The Bruins play a very deliberate style of hockey, progressively moving the puck up the ice, exploiting holes when they appear, but otherwise using solid neutral zone play and a hard forecheck to produce offense. Defensively, the Caps have a perfect counter to this. They clog up the neutral zone. The only way to bring the puck up the ice against them is with speed. If you do this, you'll get your opportunities. But they'll also get their quick counterattacking chances. And with guys like Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom; their counterattack is lethal.
The Bruins tried playing too fast in this game. So many whiffed and missed passes. They looked overexcited on offense, even anxious. There was none of the calmness we've seen from them all season.
Both goals allowed came from Bruin mistakes. On the penalty kill, the 4 Bruins on the ice literally didn't notice Mike Green until he had the puck 7 feet from the goal. The 2nd goal came directly off a turnover in the offensive zone, one of many, but this one hurt.
At the same time, they were missing three of their best forwards, and one of their better defenseman. PJ Axelsson spent over 21 minutes on the ice (season high), which is far too long. No offense to him, or Stephan Yelle (13 minutes), or Martin St. Pierre (12 minutes); but they were on the ice much longer than desired. Against a quality team like Washington, you need depth. And right now, the B's lack that depth.
Phil Kessel would be a perfect forward against Washington's defensive tactics. He's fast with an accurate shot. Bergeron and Lucic also would have helped, more likely as defensive forwards breaking up counterattacks in the neutral zone.
The bad news is that the Bruins are 0-2-0 against a team they'll likely have to go through to win the Cup. The good news is that said team hasn't dominated them, and said team has yet to play them in Boston.
St. Louis comes to town Monday afternoon. The Bruins and Capitals will meet again on the 27th, in Boston.
AP Photo/Nick Was