After all the belly aching about the Caps up and down performance this season, we finally get to talk about the Stanley Cup Playoffs in earnest. The Washington Capitals draw the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round and are massive underdogs to the Boston Bruins. Many questions from playoffs past remain for the Caps. Here are my first thoughts about the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals match-up between the Caps and Bruins.
- To be successful, the Caps need to start fast and finish this series quickly. They must steal at least one of the first two games in Boston and end this series in 5 games to move on. The Bruins have a team character edge over the Capitals that I think favors the Bs in a prolonged series.
- Watch Jay Beagle emerge as a Caps playoffs legend. He has really stepped up his game since returning from injury and is just the type of so-called “role player” that can play important minutes and make historical plays.
- Obviously, goaltending is huge. With Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun still ailing, the Caps will turn to Braden Holtby to lead the team in the cage. We all know Holtby’s aggressive style is a blessing and a curse. If he can get hot, I think the Caps will be able to get to Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask at the other end of the ice. As said all season, the Capitals have to get to the net. The Caps forwards have to cause problems for the Boston goalies.
As I have written many, many times before, a certain amount of luck is involved in a long and successful Cup run. Injuries, puck bounces, and poor, pressure driven decisions create circumstances that can kill a team’s Stanley Cup hopes and vault another to the next round. It all starts Thursday night in Boston. Enjoy the second season, folks.