Boston Bruins (2) vs. Washington Capitals (7)
The defending Cup champion Bruins will face off against a largely disappointing Washington squad in the opening round of the playoffs. The Capitals were tabbed as a pre-season favorite in many circles to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Finals, but they barely qualified for the postseason and have major question marks going into Game 1.
Washington hasn't received the type of production one would expect from star player Alex Ovechkin
, following a career-low of 65 points in 78 games. Former offensive dynamo Mike Green
has struggled to stay healthy the past two seasons and suited up in a mere 32 in 2011-12, while top center Nicklas Backstrom
missed 40 contests this year with a concussion. The Capitals may be forced to start Braden Holtby
when the series begins after Tomas Vokoun
(groin) and Michal Neuvirth
(lower body) completed the year on the sidelines.
The Bruins are still a difficult opponent for any team in the playoffs despite their erratic play at times during this past season. The team features several versatile players that can forecheck, defend and score. In a lot of ways, they play the way that current Washington bench boss Dale Hunter
wants his club to play. Ovechkin has enjoyed plenty of statistical success in the playoffs, with 50 points in 37 games, but he hasn't faced a shutdown rearguard like Zdeno Chara
before and that should keep the Capitals in check. Look for the Bruins to defeat the Capitals in six games.
BOSTON BRUINS Milan Lucic
- David Krejci
- Rich Peverley Brad Marchand
- Patrice Bergeron
- Tyler Seguin Benoit Pouliot
- Chris Kelly
- Brian Rolston Daniel Paille
- Gregory Campbell
- Shawn Thornton Jordan Caron Zdeno Chara
- Dennis Seidenberg Andrew Ference
- Johnny Boychuk Adam McQuaid
- Greg Zanon Mike Mottau
- Joe Corvo Tim Thomas Anton Khudobin
Sophomore sensation Tyler Seguin
has generated seven points in his last seven games, while Patrice Bergeron
has accounted for seven in his past six. Their linemate Brad Marchand
has also picked up his play down the stretch with five markers and 10 points in 12 matches. David Krejci
has produced three goals and set up six others over the last seven contests. The Boston captain, Zdeno Chara
, has tallied 12 points from the blueline in his past 13 appearances.
WHO'S NOT Rich Peverley
tallied two goals and two assists in the final eight games of the year after missing 19 games with a knee injury. Chris Kelly
has been running hot and cold for the majority of the season. He has only one goal and two points in his past seven games following a five-game point streak (three goals, four assists). Milan Lucic
has three goals in his last 15 matches, but he has contributed seven assists during that span.
NOTES Nathan Horton
is considered a long shot to play again this year because of post-concussion symptoms. Johnny Boychuk
sat out the closing two games of the regular season with a sprained knee, but he is projected to be available for the start of the playoffs. Adam McQuaid
is listed as day-to-day with a head/eye ailment. His status for game one is uncertain after he was pulled from last Thursday's match against Ottawa due to precautionary reasons. Number two goaltender Tuukka Rask
(abdomen/groin) is progressing in his recovery and could be ready to back up starter Tim Thomas
in game one this Thursday. If he isn't able to suit up then Anton Khudobin
will take his place on the active roster, as Marty Turco
isn't eligible to play in the post-season.
If McQuaid and/or Boychuk are unable to go when the postseason begins then Mike Mottau
and Joe Corvo
can slot into their places. Jordan Caron
may start the playoffs in the press box because coach Claude Julien
tends to ride veterans when it matters most, so look for Brian Rolston
and Daniel Paille
to remain in the lineup.
The Bruins owned the league's 11th ranked penalty kill and the 15th best power play during the regular season to stay around the middle of the pack in the NHL on special teams.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS Alex Ovechkin
- Brooks Laich
- Marcus Johansson Jason Chimera
- Nicklas Backstrom
- Alexander Semin Matt Hendricks
- Jay Beagle
- Troy Brouwer Keith Aucoin
- Mathieu Perreault
- Joel Ward Mike Knuble
- Jeff Halpern Karl Alzner
- John Carlson Roman Hamrlik
- Mike Green Dennis Wideman
- Dmitry Orlov Jeff Schultz
Michal Neuvirth Braden Holtby
WHO'S HOT Alex Ovechkin
's stock plummeted for most of the year, but he recaptured some of his past form down the stretch with 11 goals and three helpers coming in his last 13 games. The play of fellow Russian winger Alexander Semin
also came under the microscope in 2011-12, but he stepped up at the end of the regular season as well with 10 points in nine contests.
WHO'S NOT Troy Brouwer
will enter postseason play having not scored a goal in 16 consecutive matches. He has chipped in a mere three assists over that period. His physicality will be counted upon against the Bruins, but he'll also have to produce something offensively if the Capitals want to stage an upset. Washington will also need much more from their offensive blueliners Mike Green
, who has only one assist in 22 contests since returning to the lineup from sports hernia surgery, and Dennis Wideman
, who amassed 46 points this year but recorded just one goal and one assist in his last 12 games.
NOTES Tomas Vokoun
is out indefinitely with a troublesome groin and Michal Neuvirth
wasn't able to put any weight on his left leg after getting injured last Thursday against Florida. If Neuvirth isn't ready to return from his lower-body injury in time for game one then the number one job in goal will go to Braden Holtby
and Dany Sabourin
may rejoin the team to serve as his understudy. Defenseman John Erskine
hasn't played since Feb. 12 because of a lower-body injury and is currently on the team's injured reserve list.
Coach Dale Hunter
will probably begin the post-season with veterans Jeff Halpern
and Mike Knuble
as healthy scratches, but they will probably see action before the first round is over. Jeff Schultz
could also draw into the lineup over rookie Dmitry Orlov
if he has trouble handling the big bodies of the Bruins.
The Capitals had trouble killing penalties in the regular season and concluded the year as the 21st ranked unit. Their power play was 18th overall but it should improve with Backstrom and Green back in the fold and Ovechkin heating up again.