I told you all it was going 7 games.
And despite hockey writer after hockey writer picking the Bruins to win
in 5 or 6 games, I never backed off that stance. Honestly, I never even
was worried about guys who watched 10x's as much hockey as I do all
having a similar opinion. I KNEW this was going to be a challenging
series and while I may not have envisioned everything that has happened
when I made my pre-series pick, the least surprising thing to me was the
fact we're struggling with Washington.
the last 3 years, if anything should be known by now about the Boston
Bruins it is that highly skilled, fast offensive teams can give them
problems. It was the #1 reason I didn't want to see the Capitals in the
first round and remains the #1 reason I'm weary of Wednesday night. The
Capitals simply require less things to "go right" to put the puck in the
net than the Bruins do. That's not a knock on the Boston Bruins at all.
It is just how the two teams chose to construct their personnel.
Frankly, given the track records of the two teams in the playoffs in the
last few years, it's hard to argue the Bruins way hasn't been better.
But still at the end of the day, there's few if any players on Boston
that will score the type of game-winner Alexander Semin did in game 4.
So what have we seen so far in this series? Here's a few things that have stood out the most to me:
1) Holtby has been good, but overrated
give Braden Holtby credit for one thing. In games the Caps HAD TO HAVE,
he's been at his best. Game 2 in Boston, he played well. Game 4 he
played well again. I expect he'll play fairly well in game 7. One thing I
can't stand to hear is comparisons to Ken Dryden in 1971. Breaking news:
I wasn't alive in 1971. I can't sit here and compare the two series due
to that small tidbit. What I can tell you is Braden Holtby hasn't
played nearly well enough to warrant comparisons to a goalie that won
the Conn Smythe in the 1971 postseason. Holtby is getting overpraised
for two main reasons: 1) He's a rookie. Because he's in his first year,
everything is magnified. 2) He's facing the Stanley Cup Champs. If he
were having a similar series vs another team, he wouldn't be getting
this love. However, because it's the champs, he's getting an unrealistic
amount of love for making saves he should. You can probably count the
number of GREAT saves Holtby has made on one hand...maybe two. But 90%
of his saves this series have been saves any Beer League Goalie could
make. The Bruins haven't had consistent quality shots this series and
yet when they've gotten quality chances, they've buried many. Look no
further than the David Krejci goal that put Boston up 2-1. I'll bet ya
Ken Dryden stops that in his sleep.
2) Turnovers have KILLED both teams
that may get a "no shit" response from some of you, I think it has been
magnified in this series even moreso than norm. With both teams giving
up very few odd man rushes and trying to keep everything out of the
slot, the plays that lead to odd-man breaks have been killers in this
series. The Bruins defense has been very sloppy this series in their own
end and a couple times already this series, poor icing decisions just
short of the red line by the B's have resulted in pucks in their own
net. For the Caps it has been turnovers from their forwards that have
killed them. Both the 3rd and 4th goals yesterday for the Bruins were a
result of bad turnovers by the Caps and Peverley's tying goal in Game 4
was created by an Ovechkin turnover. I expect Game 7 to be played very
close to the vest by both teams and there will be extra attention to
detail on breakouts and not getting caught too deep on forechecks. One
bad decision by either team could be what determines who moves on.
3) The Caps power play chooses ideal times to show up
be honest: The Caps power play scares the living hell out of me. Chara,
Bergeron, I don't care how strong some of our penalty killers are. I
don't care that the Capitals are 3 for 18 on the Power Play in the
series. Every time they're a man up and Ovechkin is out there with Mike
Green and others I wait for the worst. The Capitals haven't had a great
series by Power Play numbers. With that said two of their three wins
have seen the GW goal come on a power play. Game 4 was a beauty from
Alex Semin that Thomas may have not even seen. Troy Brouwer followed up
with a Game 5 winner that Thomas would like to have back. The killer for
the Bruins has been where they are taking their penalties. Bergeron's
penalty that led to Semin's winner was an entire sheet of ice away from
their net in front of Washington's crease. If you're going to give the
Caps power plays, don't be taking them a length of the ice from your
net. Washington's weapons are matched by few teams in the NHL. Their
Power Play has been relatively quiet but would anyone be all that
surprised if it showed up in Game 7? I certainly wouldn't.
Game 7 on Wednesday:
game at home. Winner advances to Round 2. Regardless of what you
thought of this series coming in, anyone would have signed up for one
game at the Garden against the 7 seed to advance to the 2nd round. If
the Bruins cant win two games out of four at home in a playoff series do
not complain about the refs. Teams that want to win a Stanley Cup win
big games at home and the 2011 Bruins did that. They won a Game 5 vs
Montreal at home when the series was 2-2. They won game 7 at home vs
Montreal. They won a Game 2 they had to have vs TB. They won another
game 5 vs TB at home in a 2-2 series and won 1-0 in Game 7 to go to the
Cup. We all know they needed each and every home win in the Finals.
Simply put, when push came to shove in the 2011 playoffs, the Bruins won
big home games.
thing sits in front of them now. Beat an inferior team at home on
Wednesday night and you move on to a Eastern Conference second round
that may be setting up VERY NICELY for the winner of this series. The
Bruins could be looking at 8-seed Ottawa in round 2 if they advance. The
Bruins outplayed the Caps in Games 1 and 2 at home. Game 5 was a poor
performance all around and yet they still had a chance to win. The
Garden has become a very big momentum boost for the Bruins in recent
years and it will be rocking Wednesday. Taking advantage of that energy
is huge. Getting the first goal is paramount for both teams.
what's the Wednesday pick? I took Boston in 7 before the series. I see
absolutely no reason to change now after a clutch game 6 win. After
Saturday I said if the Bruins lost it would likely be on Sunday in a
quick turnaround on the road. They survived that tussle and desperately
needed the two day rest that is coming. Final score Wednesday: Bruins 3, Capitals 1. Yup, no one-goal game in the finale. The Bruins win by two and there's 3 key reasons for the pick.
1) I'm a MASSIVE HOMER.
Lets get that one out of the way. Last time I picked against a Boston
team in an elimination game was the 04 ALCS Game 6 at Yankee Stadium.
Yea, I know...I'm a douche.
2) When was the last big
game this Capitals team won? Ovechkin has failed time and time again in
the playoffs. Despite having the top seed in recent years, they've
never even made a conference finals with him. The Caps are notorious for
losing these games. Put that against a proven group that went 4-0 in
elimination games last year and just won one on Sunday when they were
clearly the more tired team and I'll trust the ones who have done it
3) Timmy Thomas STILL hasn't had a standout
game. While one could argue he was great in a game 1 shutout, I would
say the Bruins simply dominated the majority of that game and got the
deserved win. Yes, he absolutely made some big saves in the 3rd period,
his blocker save on Ovechkin being one key one, but all in all the
Bruins took it to Washington and controlled the majority of the game.
Thomas is now 9-2 in elimination games and has constantly saved his best
for the Bruins' biggest games. Two game 7 shutouts last year vs Tampa
Bay and Vancouver show that more than anything. This moment won't get to
him. He's shown us when we need big saves in big games he'll make them.
At the other end is a rookie goalie who has been told how "great" he's
been all series and just got deked out of his shorts by Tyler Seguin on
the game-winner yesterday. What happens if the Bruins score first? I
think Thomas has one gem in him this series and SPOILER ALERT!!!!
There's no Game 8 so that means I'm expecting it on Wednesday.
lot of people were getting pumped up after the Capitals Game 5 win on
Saturday and when Ovechkin tied it Sunday, people were ready to pop
champagne. But as we learned in Rocky (yea, I went there), you better
knock the champ out cold, because Ivan Drago learned better than anyone,
you let him stay on his feet and he'll probably make you pay.
had the champs on the ropes and had a chance to knock them out. They
didn't land the last blow and the Bruins responded with a haymaker to
the Caps chin.
My money says Wednesday night the champs knock them the $^&% out.