Monday, April 16, 2012

Caps Even Series at 1-1

On the bright side, with just one more goal the Bruins could be up 2-0 in this series. On the not-so-bright, with just one more goal the Capitals could be up 2-0.

As painful as double OT losses are, I'm going to start with a very positive thing I've seen in this series.

Tim Thomas is in Conn Smythe form. Maybe it won't last, but he is fresh and playing at his absolute peak. 2 goals in 144 minutes. He's stopped 96.4% of the shots he's faced. He's averaging less than a goal allowed per game (0.83 GAA).

Statistically, he's been matched by Braden Holtby. In fact, Holtby's save percentage is higher (.977). The 22 year old former Hershey Bear has become one of the biggest stories of the playoffs so far.

But Thomas' saves have been much harder. That's no knock on Holtby, it's a compliment to the Capitals and a criticism of the Bruins' forwards. The Caps are occupying space in front of and around Thomas. The Bruins aren't doing the same to Holtby. Holtby has had the crease to himself.

The B's seem content with peppering Holtby from the perimeter. The Caps seem fine with that too. They're yielding the outside to the Bruins and clogging up the middle. Holtby's given up rebounds that would be juicy if there were anyone in a black sweater to capitalize.

Guys like Marchand, Lucic, Bergeron, and Rolston need to get to the front of the net. Be there for rebounds. And be there to make Holtby's job difficult. Screen him, disrupt him, get him angry. He's already taken a minor for roughing. Push his buttons some more. See if he unravels.

The Bruins have not produced any offense. The Power Play has been crap, and Kelly's line are the only players with points.

Part of the problem might be Bergeron's line being on the ice to face Ovechkin. Seguin, Marchand, and Bergeron were #1, #2, and #5 on the list of Bruins goal scorers. They've been playing in much fewer offensive situations than usual. And lining up against a tough line.

Maybe Seguin can move to the Krejci line. Seguin is a bit out of place when facing Washington's top guys anyway. And his playmaking ability could spark Krejci and/or Lucic. Peverley can move to the Bergeron line which might even make them better defensively.

Lucic and Krejci need to step up. It's the playoffs. Krejci was 1-8 on faceoffs Saturday. He played close to 28 minutes and I can't remember that he was ever on the ice. He's been a ghost.

Considering how well the Bruins have played defensively, and how poorly most of them have played offensively, they deserve to be tied 1-1. The good news is, these are all problems that can be solved internally. Washington has played well, but the B's haven't been making things very tough on them.

Game 3 tonight on NESN and NBC Sports. Not a bad way to end Patriots' Day.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

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