The Stanley Cup Playoffs are nearly upon us. One series we will be seeing is the Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals in the first round. The last time the two franchises met, Washington won the series in seven games. That was just one year removed from Boston hoisting the Stanley Cup. Now almost a decade later, the two will face off again. This is the fourth playoff meeting between the two. Washington has won the last two series. The Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals should make for an excellent first-round series.
Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals
Boston and Washington are very close in terms of how they match up against one another. This season, the two franchises faced off a total of eight times. Those eight games produced a record of 4-2-2 for Boston. When we factor in that overtime doesn’t matter in the postseason, that really factors in as a 4-4 record. Both Boston and Washington are loaded with talent and this series should go seven games.
Any series featuring the Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals is sure to be a good one. In this case, don’t be surprised to see a lot of goal scoring. This series features four of the top 20 wingers in the NHL. Alex Ovechkin is a once-in-a-generation goal scorer who is chasing Wayne Gretzky for the all-time lead. David Pastrnak can finesse his way into any offensive zone to generate a beautiful goal. Brad Marchand seemingly always knows where the open man is and can find him with a gorgeous cross-ice dish (not to mention his own ability to score). Finally, Taylor Hall is a former league MVP. This series has incredible firepower on the wings.
This series also features a few incredible centremen as well. Patrice Bergeron is a four-time Selke Trophy winner that has been nominated for nine straight seasons. Nicklas Backstrom is seemingly always able to find Ovechkin at the faceoff dot for a one-timer and racks up assist after assist. David Krejci has developed a similar skillset this season with 36 assists of his own. Although he has been the subject of trade rumours, Evgeny Kuznetsov is another talented name that cannot be scoffed at. Both of these teams have deeper offences than these two paragraphs can sum up. Both teams can score at a high rate and that could make things interesting down the stretch.
With Zdeno Chara switching his alliances this past offseason, the Bruins are in for a treat in their former captain. The physically dominating force known as Big Z will forever hold a place in the hearts of Bostonians. Until now. Aside from Chara, Washington has a very capable defensive core. John Carlson leads the way with explosive offensive outputs from the former Norris Trophy winner. Dmitry Orlov and Justin Schultz won’t wow you but they won’t cost you either. This group shouldn’t give up chance after chance to a talented Boston forward group.
Boston’s defence was severely depleted before the trade deadline. The acquisition of Mike Reilly has totally changed the outlook on their group. Charlie McAvoy will make big plays but he will also give up the occasional scoring chance. The Bruins have a big stay-at-home defenceman in Brandon Carlo. The problem with him is that he has not been able to stay healthy this year. Matt Grzelcyk has been exceptional and has really stepped up in an expanded role this season. The fact of the matter is though, there is too much inexperience and question marks on the blue line for Boston. Washington has the edge here.
Goaltending can change the way a series plays out entirely. Instead of it being a Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals series, we might as well look at it as Tuukka Rask vs Ilya Samsonov. Rask is an experienced veteran goaltender who has played at a high level throughout his career. Samsonov was only named the full-time starter for the first time this season after the departure of Braden Holtby. Considering Rask has been to the Stanley Cup Finals as a starter twice and is still playing like a top 10 NHL goalie, Boston has the better netminder.
While backups don’t matter as much in the playoffs, it’s worth noting the performances of each should an injury arise. Vitek Vanecek has played very well considering he was not even supposed to see NHL time this year. He has not been as good as Boston’s second-string goaltender, however. At the start of the season, it was Jaroslav Halak. Now, Bruce Cassidy is be looking to Jeremy Swayman to back up Rask. The rookie has posted a .945 save percentage in 10 games. This kid is good.
This series is going to be won in seven games. These two teams have some of the best talents in the NHL. As stated earlier, they are essentially 4-4 against each other this season. While that doesn’t help us decide a winner, it does tell us we are in for a long series. That said, the only aspect to give an edge to Washington in is defence. While that will help, a goaltender and good offence can change the tide. Washington has more questions there than Boston.
Boston Bruins take the series in seven games.