Tonight, the most exciting post-season in any sport begins: the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.. and it looks like it will be one of the most interesting playoffs in a while. There are teams that normally don’t make it, as well as some great matchups. The Panthers and the Senators haven’t been very good teams in recent history, but they’ve both improved a lot and made it to the post-season this year.. though I still think they’ll go down in the first round. The Blues are another team that hasn’t been very good, but they’ve completely turned around and had an amazing year, ending the regular season only two points below the team with the most.. that team is the Canucks, who got the President’s Trophy for the second consecutive year. There is also a matchup that promises to be very fun to watch: the Flyers and the Penguins. The two Pennsylvania teams are rivals and rekindled their hatred for each other the last time they played each other a couple weeks ago.
The Bruins will start their post-season tomorrow night against the Capitals in Boston. Bruins fans were hoping to be up against the Senators in the first round, but the Capitals squeaked into 7th place right at the end of the season. If they hadn’t, they would be in 8th and facing the 1st place Rangers.. and strangely, their records against each other were much closer than the 2nd place Boston and what would’ve been the 7th place Senators. We beat them 5 out of 6 times in the regular season. In the west, it’s a similar setup with the 1st place Canucks and the 8th place Kings having a pretty even record against each other while the 2nd place Blues beat the 7th place Sharks 4 out of 4 times.
2012 Stanley Cup Playoff Matchups
Here’s a link to where you can go to get updated on the playoff bracket:
Why the Bruins Will Beat the Capitals in Round One:
Anyways, in the first round, the Bruins will play the Capitals, who have much more offensive weaponry than the Senators who we all though we would be facing. Regardless, I want all Bruins fans to still have confidence. While the Capitals are a good team, we have a lot going for us…
First, the Capitals are like the Dallas Cowboys or Miami Heat of the NHL.. they have great regular seasons, but then they fall apart in the playoffs. They’ve consistently choked in the past few years and nothing leads me to believe this year will be different, especially since they really underperformed in the regular season and struggled to get into the playoffs.
Second, the Capitals are weak in both goaltending and defense, which are two things a team must excel in to win in the post-season. Their top goalie, Tomas Vokoun, as well as their backup goalie, Michal Neuvirth, are both out with injuries.. and even if they weren’t, they are nowhere near Bruins goalie Tim Thomas’ level. So, they will likely be starting their top goalie in the minors, Braden Holtby, who is a young 22-year-old with barely any NHL experience. And while I’m talking about new people on the Capitals, I’ll also throw in the fact that they have a new coach. This benefits us because they haven’t had much time under his coaching, so they’re still getting used to his system.
The Capitals don’t really care as much as they should about defense and goaltending as they rely on their star forwards. But this brings up another advantage that the Bruins have.. we have some serious depth on our team. While they have two highly skilled scorers in Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, we have a full team of players who perform consistently. So they may be able to get some offense going with their stars every now and then, we will throw wave after wave of hard-hitting and skilled players at them. Plus, even when their stars get the puck, we have Patrice Bergeron (who should get the Selke Trophy this year for being the best defensive forward) to stop them. If they get past him, then we have the Zdeno Chara/Dennis Seidenberg defensive tandem that has proven to be very hard to break through. Then behind them, we have Tim Thomas in net, who had an amazing MVP post-season last year and seems to have gotten his rhythm back recently.
Another thing we have going for us is our hatred for the Capitals. We will bring lots of energy to this series as there is some bad blood between these two teams. In particular, we have taken Jason Chimera’s number for his dirty hit on Adam McQuaid that sent him face-first into the boards and has him sitting out injured. Hopefully we’ll get to see the Bruins avenge McQuaid and beat up Chimera, or at least put a bunch of big hits on him.
Lastly, I’d like to point out that we weren’t all that confident going into the playoffs last year, and we still ended up winning the Stanley Cup. What’s more, we’re a much better team this time around. Last year, we never had the stretch of dominance that we did this season. At one point this year, we had a 10 game win streak and went on to go 15-0-1.. that’s 16 straight games without a regulation loss! Further, in the first four wins of that streak, we outscored our opponents 24-8! We also learned a lot from our playoff run last year. Most importantly, we learned to take it one game at a time. Even when we were down 2-0 in the series against the Canadiens and later against the Canucks, we didn’t let it affect us, played our game, and made big comebacks to win.
So, there are actually way more arguments as to why the Bruins should win the series than for otherwise. It even surprises me as I hadn’t even thought about all of these things until I started writing this. I was actually a bit worried, but looking at all of the reasons why we should win, the worry has been replaced by confidence.. and the same should go for any Bruins fan. I predict that we will win the series in five games.
One more thing I would like to predict is that this year’s playoffs will be very physical. With teams like the Bruins, Rangers, Penguins, and Flyers in the mix, it’s almost guaranteed some bodies will go flying and some punches will be thrown. These are the most physical teams in the league and there’s way too much rivalry between them to predict otherwise. Not only does this mean it will be a fun post-season to watch, but also, the physical style hockey that will be played is perfect for the Bruins. We thrive on hard-hitting battles and not only do we dominate fights, but we play our best in those type of games. So not only do we have a lot going for us in first round of the playoffs, but the style of hockey that we’ll probably see throughout the whole post-season should leave us feeling right at home and in our element. Remember, Bruins fans…
Here’s a preview of the Bruins/Capitals series by ESPN’s Barry Melrose:
(he predicts the Bruins will win..)
Here’s the NHL’s Bruins vs. Capitals Round One Preview with discussion by Bruins players:
Some Notes on the Bruins:
-Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced that Nathan Horton, one of our best forwards, will not be returning to the ice at all for the playoffs. He is still experiencing symptoms from his concussion on January 22. Every time he makes a few days of progress, the symptoms come back. As much as we would love to have his help on this playoff run, it’s for the best as it allows him to focus on getting healthy and ready for next year. Get well soon, Horton, we miss you!
-Tuukka Rask and Johnny Boychuk have started practicing with the team and should both be ready to come back soon.
-As of today (April 11), Adam McQuaid has not returned to practice. He may recover in time for the playoffs, but all we know right now is that he won’t be playing in the first game.
-Joe Corvo will play until Boychuk or McQuaid return.
-The Bruins have been spending most of their time in practices working on their power play, which does need some work (although we were terrible at it last year and we still ended up winning the Stanley Cup). This is good because it should improve our power play, but more importantly, it’s a great sign because it shows that they’re confident with the rest of their game.
Here’s some videos to get you pumped up for the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs…
I’ll start with a few commercials for the playoffs that are about the Bruins. These should make any Bruins fan feel really good (and laugh at the third one)…
“Because It’s The Cup” Commercial about the Bruins:
“Because It’s The Cup” Commercial about the Tim Thomas:
Spoof of a “History Will Be Made” Commercial about Andrew Ference giving the finger to the Vancouver crowd after scoring a goal:
Now here’s some promos and fan-made videos previewing the Bruins for the playoffs and highlighting our 2011-12 regular season…
Bruins Playoff Round One Pump Up:
Bruins Playoffs Pump Up (about their dedication and determination):
Defending the Cup: 2011-12 Bruins:
Bruins Title Defense Montage:
Bruins 2011-12 Regular Season Highlights:
Finally, here are some videos previewing the 2012 playoffs in general…
Thanks for reading,