Playoff Pregame #6: Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins

#7 Washington Capitals at #2 Boston Bruins
Capital Lead Series 3-2
Location: Verizon Center
3:00 PM
TV: Local and National Coverage: NBC
Radio: 1500AM, 820 AM, and XM
Series Schedule:
Game 1: Apr 12, 2012, WSH@BOS, 0-1 L (OT)
Game 2: Apr 14, 2012, WSH@BOS, 2-1 W (2 OT)
Game 3: Apr 16, 2012, BOS@WSH, 3-4 L
Game 4: Apr 19, 2012, BOS@WSH, 2-1 W
Game 5: Apr 21, 2012, WSH@BOS, 4-3 W
Game 7*: Apr 25, 2012, WSH@BOS, TBD
Familiar Faces of Former Capitals: D Joe Corvo (18 GP, 2010)
Former Bruins: RW Mike Knuble (307 GP, 2000-04), D Dennis Wideman (256 GP, 2007-10)
Our Bloguin Partner: Days of Y’Orr

The Bruins can expect to wear that look more often.  Read on!

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals have pushed the Boston Bruins to the brink with a huge Game 5 win.  The Capitals stuck with their systems, blocked shots, and made the most of their offensive opportunities against the defending champions.  With an elimination game at home today, the Capitals have the chance to close out the Bs on home-ice and secure their third trip to the second round in four seasons.  If Braden Holtby holds strong for one more game, there is no reason to think the Capitals can’t complete the upset today.

The Boston Bruins finally managed to get production from their top players and their powerplay last game, but it was too little, too late.  They must now find a way to pierce rookie goalie Braden Holtby without one of their top centers, Patrice Bergeron, who is not likely to suit up in this game after taking an errant elbow from Alexander Semin.  Offensive-minded defenseman Joe Corvo is also likely to miss this contest.  In the coming contest, their stengths, defense and faceoffs, will be somewhat neutralized by the Caps having the last change and the home-ice faceoff rules.  If the Capitals are to win, they must dig deep and play their best game of the year. 

Injury Report: Capitals’ G Tomas Vokoun (groin) is out.
-For the Bruins, RW Nathan Horton (concussion), G Tuukka Rask (groin), and D Adam McQuaid (head) are out.  D Joe Corvo (knee) and C Patrice Bergeron (head) were injured last game and are day-to-day. 

Three Things To Watch For:

Cycle Breakers: The Washington Capitals were eliminated from the second round of the 2011 playoffs in large part because of their inability to get the puck out of their own end.  They had problems because their puck-moving defensemen were limited.  Dennis Wideman missed the entire series, Mike Green missed Game 4, and John Carlson suffered a hip pointer in game 1 and never recovered.  Now Caps fans are seeing what the Capitals can do when they have these players healthy.  The highest scoring team at even strength in the regular season, the Boston Bruins, are having trouble generating offense because of the ability of Capitals defenders to interrupt the cycle and break the puck out of their own end.  This bodes well for a deep playoff run for the Caps. 

Silent Ference: To this point in the series, Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference has been a non-factor.  While he has been fairly solid defensively, he only has one assist in 5 games.  Three other Bruins defenders have goals, and while Ference is usually more of a presence in the offensive zone, the Capitals have been good at pressuring the points on defense.  Ference, who was very successful in a 6-game series against the Capitals in 2000, could be the key to the Bruins generating more offense against Holtby today.

The Three Amigos: Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Marcus Johansson have been trouble for the Bruins every time they’re on the ice together.  With the B’s top defense pairing marking Ovechkin, the Capitals’ “second” line gets the easier match-up and have been generating offense because of it.  Alexander Semin leads all players from both teams in goals (3), Johansson has a goal and 2 assists, and Backstrom had the double-overtime winner in game 2 and an assist in game 3.  Backstrom also drew the penalty that led to the Caps’ game-winning goal in game 5.  Look for this line to cause the Bruins defense fits all night long.