Know Thy Enemy

Braden Holtby poses as the number one problem for the Bruins (Photo Credit:L kkthemook/Flickr)

Last night marked the first playoff game of the season for the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. Prior to the match up, there was speculation against the Bruins based on their heavy hitters and the like for Alex Ovechkin. After watching the first game, here are some conclusions that can be drawn up as well as what needs to improve for Boston.

The top priority last night for the Bruins was to shut down Alex Ovechkin and deny him any time or space with the puck, because it is a well known fact that when Ovechkin has the puck, he is dangerous. Through sixty one minutes and eighteen seconds of play Ovechkin only managed to post one shot on net in just under eighteen minutes of ice time. Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara did a phenomenal job contending the Caps leading goal scorer and if they bring that same effort to every game, there is no reason why the Bruins can’t take this series.

While they executed Operation: Shutdown Ovechkin, to a tee, their defense was slacking. They provided the Capitals with too many chances in the offensive zone throughout the third period, having issues clearing the puck. Thank the Lord Stanley that Tim Thomas was on his game last night.

Once the Bruins maintained possession of the puck, they did a fairly decent job of putting it where it belonged, outshooting the Capitals by a large margin and having seemingly high scoring opportunities. However, their downfall came from rebounding, or lack there of. I can only recall a handful of times where the surrounding forwards crashed the net. For a team like Boston, that has a lot of blue line or top of the key shooters, they need to remember to crash the net and bang in the rebounds. The majority of their goals come from deflections or rebounded shots. Perhaps the best opportunity of the night came from an opportunity between Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot, with Pouliot charging to the net as Kelly threw it in front.

If the Bruins are able to maintain control of the puck through the neutral zone and set up plays, their execution will be flawless. They need to get forwards like Milan Lucic set up in front and Shawn Thornton, bigger guys that can block the goaltenders view, in order to create more traffic.

As for the Capitals, I have to note that their first-game goaltender Holtby was spectacular. He ultimately kept the Capitals in the game last night, proving he deserved to be between the pipes. In my opinion, I say keep the youngster in net, he posed more threat to Boston and rattled them that he was so confident. However, this is the only props that I will give to the enemy. Well, that and their ability to kill a six minute penalty kill, because for a team that was ranked 25th in the League for their PK abilities, that’s pretty impressive. For more insight on this match-up you can head on over to VC Chillin‘, for a Washington Capitals perspective. You can applaud her efforts in trying to make the Capitals out to be a better team.

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