GAME 1 RECAP
So what happened to all that talk about the Caps rookie goaltender and whether or not he could handle playoff hockey? Braden Holtby certainly silenced his critics with a tremendous game 1 performance through 60 minutes. The Capitals squandered that performance with an inability to get any offense generated. Ive never seen a game with more offsides and missed shots, including yet another miss by Mike Green from 5 feet out where he used to bury it with ease. The Caps played their defensive system well for 60 minutes also, and while it may not be the most exciting thing in the world it was getting the job done as the Bruins were unable to score until.......Overtime. The place that has haunted the Capitals in the playoffs more than any other scenario. It doesn't seem to matter the era of Capital hockey the 80's, 90's, 2000's the Capitals and their fans have been terrorized by overtime heat-break. In the 80's it was the Easter Epic where the Capitals were beaten in the 4th overtime of a game against the Isles being eliminated by them for the 4th time in 5 years. In the 90's it was numerous playoff losses in OT to the hated rival Pittsburgh Penguins including yet another 4 OT loss. The 90's also included a crucial OT loss in game 2 of the 98 Stanley Cup finals that included Esa Tikkanen missing a wide open net then the Caps giving away a 2 goal lead and a defensive lapse in OT. The 2000's have seen some bright spots in playoff OT, David Steckel's game 6 OT goal in Pittsburgh (though the Caps didn't show up for game 7), and Jason Chimera's double OT winner at Madison Square Garden (though the Caps didn't show up for the following series). But it's been mostly heartbreak with losses to the Canadiens, 2 to the Penguins, and 2 to the Flyers including a game 7 eliminator. Thursday night was no different, after Marcus Johansson had a beautiful opportunity the Bruins went the other way and Chris Kelly beat Braden Holtby with one I'm sure Braden would love to have back. Will this team ever be able to come through in clutch.....seems unlikely.
GAME 2 PREVIEW
After such a solid performance you would have to think both teams will keep their lineups very similar to game 1. For the Capitals they may want to find a way to get Knuble back in the lineup as his size and ability to get in front of the net could be a big help to the Capitals offensive ability. And call me crazy but you have to have Dmitry Orlov in the lineup and Jeff Schultz can go sit in the press box where he should probably spend every night. For the Bruins they will come with the same intensity early and try to get Holtby rattled by running him cheaply again like they did in game 1 a couple times, getting Holtby to take a roughing penalty in one instance. This hockey fan would also like to see the referees call the game a little better today at 3 pm today, as they seemed a little too involved in game 1 on both sides. Let the guys play and if someone rips someones face off with a high stick then give em 2 but let the ticky tack stuff go and let the boys decide it on the ice.
For the Capitals to get the result they desperately need in game 2 they will need to come out and control the puck early and often. They need to take quality shots and make sure they hit the net, lets test Tim Thomas more than 17 times which by the way was the lowest number of shots in 38 playoff games with Ovechkin on the roster. Defensively keep it business as usual were there some lapses....yes but the defense was relatively solid from start to finish. And last but not least Braden Holtby must bring his A game again, yes the OT goal should have been stopped but without his tremendous performance the game doesn't even approach OT, he was phenomenal. This is a crucial game for the Caps they have to get the series back to 1-1 heading home if they go down 2-0 turn out the lights because the party is over.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
ALEXANDER OVECHKIN LW, WASHINGTON (Ovie was involved in several big hits in game 1 including freight training Dennis Seidenberg, we need to see him shoot more today and be more of a factor offensively)
TIM THOMAS G, BOSTON (The Caps will test Thomas more today, it will be interesting to see if Thomas is up to the task)