This Eastern Conference Quarterfinals match-up was destined for game seven. Every game between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals was decided by one goal. The only two goal lead in the series was held by the Caps for only 2:54. Neither team has been able to show home ice advantage as each has won two games in their opponent’s building. Simply put, game seven could go to either Boston or Washington. It all depends on which team can execute under the pressure.
- In the three games the Capitals won, they matched the Bruins’ physical play. In a game seven, when you have learned the tendencies of your opponent over the previous six games, the ability to wear them down and impose your will physically, is key. The Caps should chip pucks to dead areas of the ice and work the Bruins along the walls and in the corners to force turnovers.
- A strong, physical neutral zone presence is also key. As we saw in the game six overtime, turnovers in the neutral zone are deadly. The Capitals should make every attempt to make simple, quick plays through the neutral zone. This means dumping or flipping pucks into the Boston end and not trying to make tape-to-tape passes when met with resistance.
- Neither team can afford to play down a goal. It is too difficult to make a comeback and overtake the team that establishes an early lead in this series. The Caps need to score first and play very well in their own end to increase their chances of winning.
- Players like Dennis Wideman and Nicklas Backstrom need to step up after their gaffs in game six. Backstrom’s lazy backcheck and neutral zone turnover resulted in two Bruins’ goals including the Tyler Seguin, overtime game winner. On that game winning goal, Dennis Wideman was shading to the right, out of position as Milan Lucic fed Seguin on the left side.
- It’s time for Alexander Ovechkin to make a little history.
Game seven, in Boston, against the defending Stanley Cup champions is a huge test for the Capitals as they look to take the next step in pursuing the Cup. As I wrote before the series began, the Bruins have a team character edge over the Capitals that favors Boston in a prolonged series. The Bruins played in several long series and forced game sevens on their way to the Stanley Cup, last year. That recent success gives them experience and a big advantage over the Washington Capitals in this situation.