Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bruins vs. Capitals Preview*

I'll be honest. I'd prefer it if the Bruins were playing against the team from the Canadian capital, not the American one. Simply because the B's matched up very well against the Sens. Ironically, the Bruins beating the Senators last Thursday is why they're not facing them this Thursday.

Washington has been one of the most intriguing teams in the NHL all season. Ovechkin scored 38 goals, but as a whole, the Caps didn't score like they have in the past. They were 10th in the Eastern Conference in scoring.

Tomas Vokoun had a good year and beat the Bruins 3 times, but he's out with a groin injury. Michael Neuvirth is also unavailable. So 22 year old Braden Holtby will be in net. He has 18 career starts and 21 games under his belt. And 0 playoff minutes.

The Capitals' offensive production comes from a few key people. Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Jason Chimera accounted for 36% of their team's goals. The first line of Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, and Troy Brouwer combines for 32% of their goals. So if Chara and Seidenberg can shut that line down, Washington loses 1/3 of its offense.

Ovechkin scored about a third of his goals on the Power Play. So if that gets slowed down, Washington will struggle. The Bruins won the Cup last year because they were able to shut down opponents' Power Plays.

The Caps shouldn't be overlooked. They have defensemen that can contribute to the offense (3 with 9+ goals). And they'll be playing with nothing to lose. They won 38 games in regulation and OT this season. The Bruins won 40. This is a team that can win.

This is the Bruins' series to lose. Thomas has looked sharp lately, but was sluggish only a few weeks ago. The Krejci line has been inconsistent all year. There are health concerns on the blue line. Boychuk and McQuaid are very physical players, and without their services, the defense isn't as intimidating.

McQuaid is out for Game 1, and Boychuk will be a game-time decision.

If the Bruins don't jump on Holtby early, or if Holtby stands on his head and wins a game in Boston, then the Caps will feel a surge of life and give the Bruins a tough series. But if the Bruins put Washington down early, they won't come back up for air.

Bruins in 5.

Series schedule:
1: Thursday 4/12 - 7:30pm - WSH @ BOS - NESN/NBC Sports
2: Saturday 4/14 - 3:00pm - WSH @ BOS - NBC
3: Monday 4/16 - 7:30pm - BOS @ WSH - NESN/NBC Sports
4: Thursday 4/19 - 7:30pm - BOS @ WSH - NESN/NBC Sports
5: Saturday 4/21 - 3:00pm - WSH @ BOS - NBC
6: Sunday 4/22 - tba - BOS @ WSH - tba
7: Wednesday 4/25 - tba - WSH @ BOS - NESN

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