The Washington Capitals finished off their season series with the Boston Bruins this season and if the Capitals have it their way this won’t be the last time these two teams meet. Washington shutout the Bruins in all three games this season and have solidified their grasp as the number two team in the division. All Washington needs to do now is to wait and see who their first opponent is. While the Capitals can’t get the Bruins in the first round, they might be secretly rooting for Boston to maintain its playoff spot.
Right now the Boston Bruins tied for the second wild card spot with the Ottawa Senators, but holds the tiebreaker. The second wild card will be playing against the New York Rangers and even though New York won the Presidents’ Trophy this season, Boston has played well against them winning two of the three matchups. Boston might stand a good chance of knocking off the top seeded Rangers and making it deeper in the playoffs.
So if Boston gets the matchup with the Rangers, how does that help the Capitals? Well the Capitals appear to be meeting up with the New York Islanders in the first round and that would be an easier matchup. Washington is 2-1-1 against the Islanders this season, but the two losses came when the Islanders were playing their best. New York has struggled down the stretch losing seven of their last ten and it is unsure how well they will do in the playoffs. Washington would be seen as the clear cut favorite as they have a much more complete team.
Assuming the matchups playout based on the regular season success, this would match up the Capitals with the Bruins in the Conference Semifinals. This would be an easy series for the Capitals given the way they have tamed Boston this season. It isn’t often that an offensive team like Washington gets the better of a defensive minded team like Boston, but when it does happen it can be pretty one sided. A big contributor to the Capitals dominance over the Bruins has been the stellar play of their goaltender.
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby has been having one of his best seasons and he owes a lot of that to the Boston Bruins. Some people forget, but the Bruins were the team that gave Holtby his first big shot at making a name for himself. Holtby found himself having to overcome a couple of goalies to get his chance, but once he was given the opportunity, he made the most of it. Holtby After spending a season as a backup for Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov, Holtby won the starting job for the 2011-12 playoffs.
His first series in the playoffs was no easy task against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins. The series went seven games and with four of the seven games going into overtime, Holtby saw a lot of action. Holtby won two of the overtime games including a double overtime thriller in Game 2 that got Washington their first win of the series. Holtby’s good play against the Bruins has extended to the regular season as he has a career 7-2 record against the Bruins with those three shutouts this season. While Holtby has been big against the Bruins, the offense is also doing their job.
The great thing about Washington’s offense when they face the Bruins is that it doesn’t always fall on the shoulders of Alex Ovechkin to win for the team. Especially when these two teams met in the playoffs, players like Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, would always seem to come up big against the Bruins. Whether it be a late goal to tie the game or an overtime goal to win the game, it didn’t have to be Ovechkin who carried the team and that was a relief to Washington fans. This season, Washington has a very deep offense and that has helped them sustain a top five offense this year.
The Washington Capitals are in position to do some damage in the playoffs this year and if they get the matchup they want, they could go deep. Even if the playoff picture doesn’t pan out like this, and it probably won’t, don’t overlook Washington as they have the scoring, the defense and the experience to challenge any team this season. Washington has one game left this season and that will be against the New York Rangers, but expect many stars to be resting in this game as neither team has much to play for any more.