The Washington Capitals played a fantastic road game last night. They took the body, they blocked shots, they made responsible plays with the puck, and they got a terrific performance from young goaltender Braden Holtby.
And it still wasn’t enough to beat the Bruins.
Holtby couldn’t make what looked to be a routine save on Chris Kelly’s slapper from Holtby’s right, sending the Garden into delirium and Holtby on the skate of shame from the crease to the visitors’ locker room.
To be positive, the Caps did a lot of things right, and played a near-perfect Game 1 on the road. To be realistic, playing that near-perfect game still didn’t give them a win over a Bruins team that, having played in many tight games last spring, didn’t panic when pucks weren’t going past Holtby.
The Caps said all of the right things after the game, including Alexander Ovechkin saying that next game will be different and that the Caps know they can play against the Bruins. But one can’t help but wonder if this is one part truth mixed with nine parts bravado, with a dash of braggadocio on top.
This isn’t to say that the Caps are doomed; on the contrary, in fact, as they did skate with the B’s for two periods, and even took it to them pretty good in the third, coming a Tim Thomas toe save away from probably winning the game. But the fact that they essentially shut the Bruins down offensively and still lost has to be a bit of a blow to the team’s overall confidence level.
On the Bruins’
end, they can take home the fact that they hardly played a terrific game, yet
still got the win. As expected, the top two lines were quiet, shut down by
The Bruins certainly still have some work to do, and some areas that need improvement. The Caps blocked a ton of shots, a testament to their willingness to sacrifice the body, but also a sign of weak puck movement. The B’s, undoubtedly attempting to rattle Holtby by throwing shot after shot at him early, need to move the puck better and be a bit more patient in Game 2.
They also need to step up the physicality a bit. Dennis Seidenberg was a monster in last night’s game, and the rest of the team should follow his lead. He and Ovechkin had a war of attrition going on all night, throwing check after check at each other, a battle that eventually culminated in a neutral zone collision that had all of the force of two 18-wheelers smashing together.
The B’s power play needs some work too, but again, some of those struggles can be attributed to blocked shots. The B’s had a number of great looks on the power play that glanced off of sticks or skittered off of shin pads. The Caps’ willingness to dive in front of anything and everything is admirable, but bruises are going to add up over the course of the series.
Strangely enough, the rest of this series might hinge on a pane of glass: David Krejci, popped in the head by a tumbling pane of Plexiglas during the post-goal celebration, didn’t practice this morning and has been termed “day-to-day” by the team. Krejci is the team’s best playmaker, and if he misses any time, the B’s are in a world of trouble. Sure, Jordan Caron is a capable player, but the B’s don’t have anyone who can fill that true first-line center role.
played well last night:
He made the big stops early, but couldn’t make the one he needed. The Caps better hope that weak one didn’t shake his confidence, or this series could get ugly in a hurry.