Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bruins - Capitals Game 7 Preview

The Bruins won a record setting three Game 7s on their way to the Stanley Cup last year. So this is familiar territory for them.

The Bruins' best regular season players are finally showing up in the post-season. Seguin was a constant threat in Game 6, Krejci scored, Lucic had 2 assists. The Bruins need these guys to contribute, especially with Patrice Bergeron well below 100% and playing a very limited role.

The Power Play has been painful to watch, but I don't think it will be much of a factor in Game 7. I think the refs will only call the most blatant penalties and I'd be shocked if the B's get more than 2 Power Play chances.

Tim Thomas has been outstanding in this series. Some have pointed to a goal or two that he would have stopped last year. And many are declaring that Braden Holtby has "outplayed" Thomas. That's not true. Holtby has played well, but he's had much easier saves to make. The Capitals have constantly obstructed Thomas with bodies in the slot. Something the B's have only occasionally done to Holtby. Thomas has traffic, Holtby has space.

If not for Thomas, the Caps would have already won this series. And the bigger the stage, and the more pressure there is, the better Tim Thomas performs. The Bruins will not lose Game 7 because of their goaltender.

For the Capitals to win Game 7, there's a set order of things that they need to do. Holtby has to make some big glove saves, Ovechkin's line needs to score or at least neutralize a Bruins line, and goals need to be scored by one of 5 guys (Ovechkin, Semin, Laich, Brouwer, Backstrom). If any one of these things don't happen, the Capitals don't win.

The Bruins, on the other hand, can win in a variety of different ways. The Bruins are more diverse, their players are more flexible and can play multiple roles. The Bruins get more production from more sources than Washington does. The Caps have 9 players with multiple points in this series. The Bruins have 14. The Caps have 6 players with 3+ points. The Bruins have 8. Four Bruins' defensemen have scored a goal. Only one Capitals' defenseman has scored.

All the Bruins can play defense as well. Peverly is the Bruins' top scorer in this series, and you'll see him on the ice in defensive situations. Unlike an Alexander Ovechkin. Then there's a guy like Chara who is the best defensive player on the team and also a guy who can score.

So Washington can win, but it'd have to follow a script. If the Bruins can disrupt that script, or just improvise their own using their broad range of skills, then they'll win.

I think the B's will find some holes in Holtby. I think Ovechkin will score and make things interesting. But the Bruins will pull away down the stretch and win 3-2.

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