By Rodger M. Wood
The first two games of the Caps/Bruin Playoff Series were both nail biting games, which you couldn’t leave for a beer or potty break for fear of missing the winning goal.
The first game Thursday was a 0-0 tie until the 1:18 mark of the first overtime period when Bruins forward Chris Kelly put a slap shot in the upper right hand corner of the net to beat goalie Braden Holtby and the Caps 1-0.
In the second game Saturday, the Caps evened up the series at one game each at the 2:56 mark of the second overtime period when Marcus Johanssen from behind the Bruins goal fed Nicklas Backstrom the puck which he immediately propelled past the paralysed Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for the winning goal.
Defensemen John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Jeff Schultz, Mike Green, Roman Hamlik, and Dennis Wideman played tough, errorless defense, blocking shots, clearing opponents from the front of the net, and steering Bruins passes to the outside.
High scoring Bruins forwards Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Tyler Sequin are gnawing at the bit trying to score on this defense.
It is particularly pleasing to see veteran defenseman Jeff Schultz play the kind of hockey he’s always been capable of.
In the second game, while goaltender Holtby was knocked out of the net, defenseman Mike Green held the ground to make a hand save that saved the day for the Caps.
Caps forwards played tough two way hockey. Alexander Semin made a fall down, reach out, puck swipe to stop a Bruins scoring chance in the third period of the second game. Ovie blocked a shot. Poor Marcus Johannssen stopped two pucks with his head. Troy Brouwer made his net presence a factor when he scored the first goal in the second game, assisted by Ovie.
Twenty – two year Bradean Holtby matched Bruins’ super star goalie Tim Thomas stop for stop, allowing only two goals on 74 shots in both games. He has ferociously attacked several Bruins to clear out his goal mouth but in contrast to his opposing goaltender, he has not choke collared Bruins forwards while a defenseman clobbered him from the front, like Thomas did Backstrom in the second game. It was ironical Backstrom paid Thomas back with the winning goal.
Bush league play does not pay, Mr. Thomas. You should have paid Mr. Obama a visit to the White House with the other Bruins last Fall.
The Caps seem to have finally managed to execute Coach Hunter’s “good defense and opportunistic offensive system” to a tee and the dividends are paying off. Hunter has also outcoached Bruins coach Claude Julien on a couple occasions when he double shifted Ovie on the ice when Charra and Seidenberg were sitting, and getting Johanssen on the ice to assist Backstrom on the winning goal.
All in all, the Bruins/Capitals playoff games have been hard fought, hard checking, good clean hockey. They have been a pleasure to watch, regardless of which team wins and should make Bruins and Caps fans proud of their teams. It is the best hockey I have seen our Capitals play in my 38 years of watching them. When playing like this, I don’t blame the Caps or the Bruins for cutting down on my beer consumption. You need a clear head anyhow to watch this good hockey.
Senators, Rangers, Penguins, and Flyers Are A Disgrace!
In contrast, the Ottawa/New York Rangers and Penguins/Flyers series have been travesties, terrible disgraces for the NHL, which they should rectify with suspensions, and heavy fines to the team management and the players involved in the mayhem that occurred in their games Saturday and Sunday.
The games sickened most fans. The likes of Boyle, Carkner, Giroux, Crosby, long haired Scott Hartnell, Aaron Ascham, and Wayne Simonds, who looked like he was told by Flyers coach Craig Berube to go out on the ice to make Penguins James Neal pay the price for his sins, should be banished from the game for awhile.
The NHL better get their act together without hesitation. Fans want to see the hard clean hockey played in the Boston/Washington series rather than those goons in New York and Philadelphia. Do you want your ten year old to watch this kind of hockey?