Playoff Pregame #7: Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins

#7 Washington Capitals at #2 Boston Bruins
Series Tied 3-3
Location: TD Garden
Time:
7:30 PM
TV: Local Coverage: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic (HD) (Game on!), National Coverage: NBC Sports Network (HD)
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 6: Apr 22, 2012, BOS@WSH, 3-4 L (OT)
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

It doesn’t get bigger than this. Read on!

NHL
Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images

In the words of George McPhee in April 2010, the Washington Capitals are en route to “another [bleeping] game 7.”  After four game 7s over three seasons, this one is different.  This is the first game 7 this group will play on the road.  This is the first game 7 this group plays as the underdog.  This is certainly the first game 7 this group will play against the defending champions, and they will play their first game 7 under their new coach, Dale Hunter.  At this point, the Capitals were happy just to be in the playoffs and have played extremely well against a superb opponent.  This series coudn’t get any closer, it’s the only series in NHL history to have six 1-goal games to open the series and there will likely be a seventh.  There has only been one two-goal lead all series, and it only lasted about 5 minutes.  The Caps can prepare for the game knowing the only game they’ve lost in Boston this season in five tries was a 0-1 overtime loss in Game 1 of this series. It should also help to know that 2-7 series upsets are fairly common (four in the last eight seasons) and that the last two Stanley Cup champions (Chicago and Pittsburgh) have lost in the first round the next season.  

The Boston Bruins are used to this by now, but in a good way.  Whereas the Caps have only won one game 7 and only two playoff series since 2008, the Bruins won three game 7s and four series last season alone. They still have much of last season’s roster, too, unlike the Caps who have had a lot of turnover since that 2009 Game 7 win.  The Bruins will be cool coming out of the locker room, and there’s no panic in this team.  Everyone can expect another hard-fought, tight-scoring, big-hitting game that will go right down to the wire.  This is the first time the Bruins will face the Capitals with their backs to the wall, too, so it should be even more exciting to watch.

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

Three Things To Watch For:

Young Guns:  In the four game 7s the Capitals have played since 2008, they have scored a total of 7 goals.  Six of those goals have been scored by players currently on the roster.  Alexander Ovechkin (2 goals, 4 points), Brooks Laich (2 goals, 3 points), Nicklas Backstrom (1 goal, 2 points) and Alexander Semin (1 goal, 2 points) have all played major roles in the team’s fortunes.  Expect them to do so again tonight, especially Semin.  Semin has been pacing the Caps with 3 goals in this series and could blow this game open if he gets loose even for a second.  

Old Hat: To the Boston Bruins, this might be just another game.  This will mark the Bruins’ seventh game 7 since the 2007-08 season.  They might not have much of an advantage after all, since they lost the first three game 7s of this latest clutch of games.   In ’08, they were the 8 seed and lost game 7 on the road to Montreal, but they lost two home game 7s the next two seasons, to Carolina in 2009 and to Philadelphia in 2010, the year they blew a 3-0 series lead. While the Bs managed to win 3 game 7s last season, the Bruins were much better known for choking in them first.   If their luck can change, anyone’s can.  

Old Guns:  The Capitals’ experience with game 7s is not just limited to games played in D.C.  Troy Brouwer, for instance, played in a first round game 7 last year in Vancouver, a game his defending champion Blackhawks nearly won in overtime after erasing a 3-0 series deficit.  Roman Hamrlik has played in seven game 7s of his own (4 wins), including eliminating the Caps in 2010, and has 5 assists in those games.  It helps that two of Hamrlik’s Game 7s came against Boston in the past few years.  Mike Knuble knows all about #2 seeded Boston losing Game 7s at home, he was a Bruin in 2004 when the #7 Habs pulled off the first-round upset.  Of course, Dennis Wideman was a Bruin for all 3 of their game 7 losses between 2008 and 2010.  

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