NOTE: “ECQF” stands for Eastern Conference Quarter-finals
This weekend, the Bruins played the second game of their Eastern Conference Quarter-finals series against the Capitals. It was once again a low-scoring game that required overtime. For the majority of the game, the Bruins were the better team, but Capitals didn’t back down. They scored the first goal near the end of the second period, then we came back to tie it about halfway through the third as we had begun to dominate. Regulation ended without any more scoring, so they went to overtime, in which the Bruins continued to control the game (for the first overtime period). As with the last game, I was surprised there were so few goals scored. Another new surprise was how long it would take to break the tie. It wasn’t until three minutes into the second overtime period, and it was Nicklas Backstrom who scored the game-winning goal for the Capitals to tie the series at 1-1. For those who don’t know, the overtime periods in the playoffs are as long as the regulation periods, 20 minutes. So it took 83 minutes for a victor to be decided.
What does this mean? It could mean that these two teams may be more evenly matched than people had thought. However, what I think it really means is that they are pretty evenly matched right now.. but that’s only because the Bruins aren’t quite in their rhythm and a few of the Capitals have really stepped up. There has also been some terrible officiating. In the second period, Dennis Seidenberg gets cross checked in the face and there was no call. Then Shawn Thornton yelled something very true at the refs: “If I did that, I’d be thrown out of the game!” I understand that refs miss things sometimes, but there needs to be consistency because it would be a real shame if a team were to lose in the playoffs solely because of bad officiating. It wouldn’t be right.
As I said, the Bruins aren’t quite up to par. Their offense has declined a bit since the end of the regular season. They’re getting plenty of shots on goal, but not enough of them are quality scoring chances. I think they were too eager to get pucks on the Capitals’ mostly untested, third string goalie Braden Holtby. But he does have some skill, so they need to work their offense and focus on getting quality shots. I think they can definitely do it, by coach Claude Julien may need to shake things up a bit and change the lines around. I think putting Tyler Seguin on the first line would be one good move, but I trust Julien, he’s worked with this type of situation and come out victorious before.
The other reason why we aren’t dominating the series is because a few of the Capitals have put in huge efforts. I don’t think we expected this, as they have choked in the playoffs in the last several years. Alex Ovechkin has pretty much carried the team, not in terms of scoring, but in terms of morale and determination. While he does create some good offensive plays, either Zdeno Chara or Dennis Seidenberg usually shuts him down. But he puts in a tremendous effort, and his teammates follow. He has also been focusing more on hitting than scoring, doing his part to try to match our physical game.
I would also say that Holtby, their goalie, has been big, but I don’t think that’s entirely true. Granted, he was called up from the minors and had no NHL playoff experience, so has done really well considering that.. but we haven’t really shown him true playoff-quality shooting. He has mostly only had to make routine saves. Very few of our shots have actually presented a challenge to him.
So here’s what the Bruins need to do: get an offensive spark from changing up the lines and/or coach Julien giving them the right speech, and keep beating up Ovechkin and anyone else who steps up physically. With the offense, they need to ramp up the energy, but also make sure to focus on setting up plays to give us quality scoring chances. With the physical game, they need to get back to true, brutal Bruins hockey. They have been physical, matching what the Capitals have brought, but they need to go beyond that.. they need to overpower the Capitals. These are all things that I think the Bruins can do without too much trouble, and I do think they’ll win the next game, so have confidence Bruins fans, and remember…
This section is where I put my notes from the game, with the plays that I felt were worth highlighting and/or ranting about. This is basically my version of a game recap, intended for those who would like to read one that tells more than just what happened on paper. So, if you just want a summarization and my thoughts on what the game means for the Bruins, just read the section above and the “Final Thoughts/Notes” section near the bottom, then check out the videos and links that follow…
-It starts with Capitals bringing it hard, then even more so when they got a power play for Chara getting a penalty about a minute in.. but Thomas made a bunch of great saves.
-Then we start to make our own push getting a bunch of shots on goal before they get another one.
-Then halfway through, Green gets a hooking penalty and we go on the power play. We get a bit of offense going, but they do a good job to kill it off.
-Almost 13 mins in, Kelly gets a hooking penalty..
-Lots of back and forth.
-18 mins in, we get a nice rush for one of our best chances so far.
-Shots on goal were 10-9 in favor of the Bruins.
-1 min in, big save by Thomas on Ovechkin
-A minute later, a shoving match breaks out and we end up on the power play. We get some good offense going.. Bergeron gets a shot between Hotlby’s legs, but Holtby touched it just enough to send it barely wide of the post.. they kill it off.
-6 mins in, Thomas makes a nice save on Semin, then another one soon after on a wrap-around attempt by Semin that slightly surprised him.
-11 mins in, Marchand gets a high sticking penalty. Thomas makes a big save and Chara knocks the rebound away from out of the air. We defend well and kill it off.
-In the next few minutes, we got a bunch of great chances.
-18 mins in, Brouwer hits the puck under Thomas as Zanon was crashing on the ground right in front of him.
-Then Thornton takes a nice shot.
-Soon after, Bergeron makes a great neutral zone steal and rushes ahead for what would’ve been a 3-on-2 break, but we get called offside.
-The period ends 1-0 Capitals.
-Shots on goal are 22-16 in favor of the Bruins.
-We start off right away with strong offense and big hits.
-4 mins in, we get a nice offensive stand.
-6.5 mins in, Boychuk puts a nice big hit on Semin at center ice and knocks him on his ass.
8 mins in we have another offensive stand with a bunch of great chances, like Seguin getting the puck right in front, then shooting it top corner.. Holtby made some big saves.
-At this point the two goalies have faced 98 shots in the series and only 2 have gone in.. that’s some great goaltending.
-12 mins in, Marchand tipped a pass just wide of the post for a great chance.. then right after, Kelly steals the puck, drops a pass to Rolston, he shoots, it deflects off of a leg towards the net.. Pouliot pursues it and knocks it in the net to tie the game! Woooo! That was his first playoff goal.
-16.5 mins in, Ovechkin tries to hit Bergeron, but Bergeron lays him out.
-A minute later, the Capitals try to jam at the puck in front of Thomas as he smothers the puck.. then their Backstrom keeps jamming at the puck after play had stopped, so Thomas whacks him a few times.
-Time runs out and it ends tied 1-1. They go to overtime.
-Shots on goal were 30-29 in favor of the Bruins.
-We start with Krejci winning the faceoff, then we get a nice offensive stand with some good chances.
-4 mins in, Krejci made a nice move to get around a defenseman and take a nice shot.
-Almost 7 mins in, we had a great chance rushing in then a cross-ice pass.. but former Bruin Dennis Wideman broke up the play and saved the Capitals. Why couldn’t he make those plays when he was a Bruins?
-Halfway through, Thomas makes a huge glove save on Jay Beagle.
-13 mins in, Thomas makes a few more big saves during a Capitals offensive stand.
-16 mins in, Paille gets hit in the face by Green.. should have been a penalty.
-It ends with a nice offensive stand by the Bruins and they go to a second overtime.
-Shots on goal are 41-37 in our favor.
-After the 141 minutes of play in this series so far, only 3 goals have been scored.
-Half a minute in, Boychuk takes a shot that deflects a bunch of times and Holtby barely saves it.
-3 mins in, the Capitals win a faceoff in our end, get it to Backstrom, he scores to win it and tie the series at 1-1.
Final Thoughts / Notes
-Tim Thomas went into this game riding a playoff shutout streak of 123 minutes (including last year).. The streak went for 161 minutes.. that’s when the Capitals scored. He made 37 saves in this game.
-Alex Ovechkin has never had back-to-back playoff games without points. He almost did, but got an assist in this game to prevent that.
-This was the 5th playoff game this year to go to overtime.
-There has now been 144 minutes of play in the series so far (in only two games).
Around the league, there have been more surprises as many of the underdogs are pulling ahead of the favorites in their series. Probably the most significant is the Kings/Canucks matchup. The Kings were the bottom seed and the Canucks were the top seed, as well as the President’s Trophy winners for the second consecutive year (given to the team with the most points in the league at the end of the regular season). Yet somehow, the Kings are up 3-0 in the series! The other crazy series has been the Flyers/Penguins one. They are pretty closely matched, but the Penguins have more offensive weapons and were the favorites. Still, regardless of the fact that they have scored first in two of the three games, and that they have had leads of two or three goals, they have still lost all three games so far, leaving the Flyers up 3-0 in the series. Here’s how the playoff bracket looks currently:
You can stay updated on the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs here:
Here’s a video of Patrice Bergeron battling Mathieu Perreault:
Here’s a video of Zdeno Chara hitting Jeff Schultz in the visor with a slapshot, then a shot by Patrice Bergeron getting barely tipped wide of the post:
Here’s a video of Alex Ovechkin starting a scrum with Dennis Seidenberg:
Here’s a video of one of our better scoring chances:
(Gregory Campbell tips a shot from Greg Zanon)
Here’s a video of Troy Brouwer’s goal:
(I’m still trying to figure out how it went in)
Here’s a video of a scrum at the end of the second period:
(Gotta love how Patrice Bergeron grabs Nicklas Backstrom by the visor and imparts a veteran’s knowledge about proper etiquette)
Here’s a video of one of the Bruins’ good offensive stands with a nice scoring chance by Brad Marchand:
Here’s a video of Benoit Pouliot’s goal (his first playoff goal):
Here’s a video of Patrice Bergeron crushing Alex Ovechkin (who was actually trying to hit him):
Here’s a video of a scrum started by Nicklas Backstrom jamming at the puck when Tim Thomas had clearly smothered it, then Thomas whacking him:
Here’s a video of Tim Thomas robbing Jay Beagle in the first overtime period:
Here’s a video recap of the big saves and the goals from the game:
(Extended recap below)
Here’s an extended video recap of the game:
Here’s the NHL’s video recap of the game:
Here’s the NHL’s page of video clips of the goals and some saves and hits:
Here’s the NHL’s photos from the game:
Thanks for reading,