Of the 8 first round playoff series’s, we have three of them going the distance! We have the #2 Boston Bruins vs. #7 Washington Captials, #1 New York Rangers vs. #8 Ottawa Senators, and #3 Florida Panthers vs. #6 New Jersey Devils. Interestingly enough, all three of these are in the East, where as the West teams are planning their strategies for the second round. We are going to give breakdowns for all three matchups, starting with the first one, Bruins and Capitals.
Thoughts on the series- I’ve watched parts of every game this series, and from what I can gather, the Bruins have been in control for most of it. Its surprising that I feel this way, given that the Capitals had all the momentum in game 6. They had won two in a row, and had a chance to pull off the upset on home ice. However, the Bruins came up big, taking the game in overtime, and sending the series back over to Boston.
How the Capitals can win: This really comes down to two players for me: Alexander Ovechkin and Branden Holtby. Ovechkin is the obvious star of this team, but he hasn’t really lived up to that, scoring only two goals in the first six games. It should be noted that he came up with the big game tying goal in Game 6, but it did little for his team’s momentum, as they lost the game. In order for the Caps to win, Ovi has to find the net at least once in Game 7.
As far as Holtby is concerned, this third string goalie has played above and beyond expectations. For the most part, he has stayed in stride with veteran and opposing goalie Tim Thomas, and he will need to have a huge game for them to win. I don’t think the Caps have a chance to overcome 2 goals from the Bruins. Definitely not 3. Will the young goalie buckle under the pressure of his first Game 7, or will he step up in the biggest game of his career?
How the Bruins can win: The Bruins won the cup last year with tough defense, and great goaltending, and it looks like they are going to have to do the same thisyear . The offense has picked up, scoring at least three goals in the last three games, with goals coming from all over the ice. You have to look at your veterans for game 7, and the two obvious ones are Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas. Chara has been the Ovechkin stopper the entire series, as the two of them have always been on the ice together. Meanwhile, Thomas had a great start to the series, but has fallen off recently, allowing at least three goals in the last three. Having said that, he has made some amazing saves in this series, and if Boston moves on, it will be because of him.
Our Prediction: It’s so hard to bet against the Bruins in this game. They had to win three Game 7′s last year to win the cup, beating the Canadians in the 1st round, Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals, and the Canucks in the title game. Thomas recorded shutouts in two of those games, and I see him being the factor here again. Not a shutout, but I’m looking at a 2-1 home victory for Boston, keeping their hopes to defend the cup alive.
Who do you guys have? Bruins or Capitals? Let us know in the comments!