The Bruins and Capitals kick off their Round 1 Stanley Cup Playoffs series today. The last time these teams faced off in the playoffs Joel Ward ended the Bruins season in a first-round game 7. That series was back in 2012 and might as well be ancient history. Since then the Caps have had the Bruins number dominating them in the regular season. Finally, that changed with the Bruins winning this year’s season series going 4-2-2 for 10 of a possible 16 points. The question now, is do we put more stock into the previous almost decade of futility or this season finally turning the tide?
Washington Players To Watch In Round 1
We all know the Capitals star players like Ovi, Carlson, and Backstrom. However, those are far from the only name the Bruins need to watch for. The first player on that list is T.J Oshie. Oshie played in 53 games this season scoring 22 goals and 43 points. Oshie is a huge part of the Capital’s depth scoring and leadership. Getting him off his game is a big key for Boston in this series. Next up is goalie Vitek Vanecek. Vanecek began the season as the backup but took over the starting role. Vanecek went 21-10-4 on the season but only 4-3 against the Bruins. In those seven games, Vanecek allowed 22 goals just over 3 per game.
Lastly the Caps big deadline acquisition Anthony Mantha. In his first four games after the trade, Mantha scored 4 goals and 5 points. In his next ten games, Mantha only scored 3 points. Which version will we see in the playoffs? Zdeno Chara gets an honorable mention. Chara has played in all but 1 game this season averaging over 18 minutes per game. He knows Boston inside and out and could be a thorn in our side all series.
Bruins Players To Watch In Round 1
Now let’s lets take a look at some Bruins players who will have a big impact on the series. First up is Boston’s big trade deadline addition Taylor Hall. Since coming to Boston Hall has 8 goals and 14 points in 16 games going +15. Hall is finally back in the playoffs and his play over the last month shows how much that means to him. Next up is defenseman Brandon Carlo. After battling injuries most of the season Carlo made his return before the end of the season. If the Bruins hope to shut down the Capitals high-powered offense Carlo will be a huge part of that.
Finally polarizing forward Jake Debrusk makes the list. Debrusk has the talent we have all seen it. Getting him to use that talent on the ice has been a little hit or miss. In 41 games this season Debrusk scored just 5 goals and 14 points. The good news is over the last month Debrusk scored 7 of those 14 points. Hopefully, he can continue to heat up through the playoffs. An honorable mention goes to Jeremy Swayman. The Bruins rookie was named the backup goalie for the playoffs and his numbers show why. In 10 games Swayman is 7-3-0 with a 1.50 goals against and a .945 save percentage. He is also 1-1 vs the Caps with a .939 save percentage.
Series Prediction and Final Thoughts
Before we jump to the series prediction let’s touch on the elephant in the room, Tom Wilson. Wilson can’t be allowed to take over this series. That means the Bruins players will need to keep their emotions in check. Wilson will look to draw penalties and get under the guy’s skin it’s what he does. If his impact can be minimized it will go a long way to winning the series.
Now for my prediction, I see the Bruins winning the series in six games. The addition of Hall and the inexperience of Washington’s goalies both tilt the series in Boston’s favor. This series is what playoff hockey is all about. Here is the schedule for the rest of the series so you don’t miss out. In case you missed it the Bruins announced their season awards check out who earned some hardware this season. Until next time stay safe out there and LET’S GO BRUINS!
Featured image courtesy of espn.com