Photo credit: Brian Babineau
Here we go. The big show. The postseason. First of many between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals– a tight, violent, and excruciating bout of playoff hockey. There is nothing sweeter.
The Caps endured three punishing but scoreless periods before someone named Chris Kelly scored the OT winner. Bruins beat Caps 1-0.
- The Capitals couldn’t possess the puck in the first forty, so they did the next best thing: blocked shots. Led by birthday boy Roman Hamrlik, the Caps dove in front of pucks like the end of every buddy cop movie, except with ya know pucks instead of bullets. Those 22 total blocks cut Boston’s offense in half and were a definite boon to…
- Braden Holtby, the rookie in the Washington net. The first NHL playoff game of Braden’s career, and the kid was MAGNIFICENT. Maybe his rebounds were a bit ripe, but he was poke-checking, getting physical, tracking pucks through mondo screens, leaving no space along the post, and being his typically bad-ass self– even after getting roughed up a few times. 29 saves, .967% Sv%.
- Jay Beagle delivered a couple cross-checks and a high stick, earning a dumb double minor at the end of the first period. That four-minute kill deprived the Caps of the offense they already lacked, but it also exposed the depth of character this team’s defense has. The Bruins’ O was brutal, but the PK unit was more than equal to the task.
- Much to our disappointment, this season’s Caps haven’t punished opponents for running over their netminders, but when David Krecji knocked Holts over after the whistle, John Carlson pounced on him like an attack dog. Carlson and Krecji shared minor penalties, which should have led to some exhilarating 4-on-4, but….
- Holtby’s adrenaline got the best of him or something, and he was whistled for roughing just a few seconds later. It was a weak call methinks, and punishment for prudent goalie behavior. Setting the Caps on another epic 4-on-3 penalty kill, well… it’s just part of the reason why the team mustered only 7 shots on goal through 40 minutes.
- The rest of that story: the Caps offense was MIA until the third period. Seriously. Just two shots in the second period. I mean– the ’09-’10 could probably get two shots on goal just during intermission.
- That third period, something changed. Personally, I think it was TD Garden playing “The Anthem” by Waldorf natives Good Charlotte. The third period Caps dominated the Bruins zone, generating chances and making Tim Thomas work.
Series record: Bruins 1, Caps 0
Here’s the thing: all the talk of patterns and habits and trend lines is over and done. Projections and predictions are irrelevant. All that matters now is results.
Regular season record? No one cares. Not enough goals during the 82? Commit too many penalties? Offer poor D-zone coverage? Irrelevant. This is the real game now.
Ovechkin vs Chara is off to a terrific start, but so is Ovechkin vs Seidenberg, and so is Johansson vs. the puck. When Chara got the best of Ovi, Ovi smiled. When Ovi got the best of Chara, Chara got frustrated and offered a high stick.
We’re in it now. This is the mud, a viscous soup of unbelievably tough hockey through which our guys gotta wade.
Or maybe it’s the Gauntlet, with muscled-out weirdos like Chara and Looch shooting tennis balls at the Red.
Or is it trench warfare? a battle of attrition by which we reveal who is stronger.
No. This is the motherflipping playoffs. They’ve got one; we’ll get the next.
Grind ‘em down and crash the net.
Photo credit: Brian Babineau