Playoff Previews: Bruins vs Capitals

2 Boston Bruins vs 7 Washington Capitals

At times this season, the Bruins have played so well that only they could beat themselves. At other times they did just that. It’s been a controversy filled season with suspensionsnon-suspensions and even political distractions. Taking injury and inconsistency into the playoffs with them, this Bruins team will face some challenges if they look to repeat as champians champions.

The Capitals entered this season with high hopes after an off-season that saw GM George McPhee add depth to an already good team in addition to acquiring a true number one goaltender in Tomas Vokoun. The team failed to live up to the hype and just narrowly avoided missing the playoffs in one of the most disappointing seasons the franchise has had. Can they regroup and give the Bruins a good run?

Offense

One of the strengths of the Bruins last year was their forward depth. They had three strong lines that could create turnovers and score goals and a fourth line that hit and punished their opponents relentlessly. This year, some of that depth is gone. Mark Recchi retired, Michael Ryder was replaced with Benoit Pouliot via free agency and Nathan Horton is out indefinitely with a concussion. On the positive side, there is still a lot of depth in the B’s forward corps. Patrice Bergeron has had a career year and David Krejci and Milan Lucic are not far behind.

The Caps have some cause for optimism. Nicklas Backstrom returned from injury late in the year and Alex Ovechkin, despite a career low 65 points, managed 11 goals in the final 13 games of the year. Could Alex the Great be back? Alex Semin also finished strong with points in eight of his last nine games. If The Caps have a chance to upset, their forwards are peaking at the right time.

Defense

When you have a bearded, six-foot-nine, Norris winning, monster on your blueline, your defense is usually not a question mark. Such is the case for the Bruins. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg were a formidable tandem all year long and Chara is likely to be nominated for another Norris this summer.

In Washington’s case, the defense has been something of a problem. Mike Green missed significant time with injury and was held to only seven points. John Carlson failed to improve on his stellar rookie campaign by dropping from 37 points to 32 and going from +21 to -15. Roman Hamrlik was brought in through free agency, but the 37 year-old former first overall draft pick has failed to make an impression.

Goaltending

Big questions in goal for both teams. Tim Thomas has slipped out of form ever since the White House debacle. Let’s also remember he isn’t getting any younger. With Tukka Rask on the shelf and Marty Turco as the emergency replacement, can the oldest goaltending tandem in the league get the Bruins through this series?

The Capitals have their own problems in the cage. Both Tomas Vokoun and Michael Neuvirth enter the playoffs injured. That leaves Braden Holtby to tend the pipes for the Caps, at least to start the series. Neuvirth is day-to-day, but even one or two games missed could cost the Caps the series.

Advantage:

Offense: Boston
Defense: Boston
Goaltending: Boston

Even though Boston stacks up favorably in every category, I can’t resist the urge to pick Washington in this series. The way they always lose as favorites just makes it seem poetic that they’d win as the underdogs. And the Bruins have been just inconsistent enough that it could happen.

Key players:

Boston: Zdeno Chara

This photo has not been altered.

Washington: Alex Ovechkin

He’s wearing the C. Time to step it up.

Prediction:

Capitals in seven

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