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Playoff matchups: Bruins begin title defense against Capitals

Apr 7, 2012, 11:02 PM EDT

Washington Capitals v Boston Bruins Getty Images

For years, the Washington Capitals have carried the label of heavy favorites. However you frame those stories, it’s never ended well for Alex Ovechkin & Co., but 2012 represents an interesting flip of the script. This time around, they’ll be the seventh seed upstarts against the second-ranked defending champion Boston Bruins.

There was a point during this season when Boston appeared to be a behemoth on a level rarely seen in the salary cap era. Injuries and inconsistency (and if you ask some, a botched photo-op at the White House) seemed to at least slow down the bandwagon, though.

Still, the Bruins have a two-time Vezina winner in net (Tim Thomas), a probable Hall of Famer on the blue line (Zdeno Chara) and some underrated tools on offense. That might be enough against a haggard Washington squad with stars who don’t seem to be 100 percent in Mike Green and maybe Nicklas Backstrom plus some serious goaltending questions with Tomas Vokoun and possibly Michal Neuvirth on the mend.

Ovechkin has somewhat-quietly been heating up, though, so it sets up the Capitals as an interesting underdog option. Washington also outplayed Boston in its meetings this season, taking three out of four wins. On the other hand, the Caps take a playoffs-worst 16-21-4 road record into Beantown.

So who strikes you as the likely winner: the big, bad Bruins or the confounding Caps? Let us know in the comments.

  1. bmorethansteel - Apr 7, 2012 at 11:19 PM

    This may be an interesting series

  2. babar61 - Apr 7, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    I think it will be ugly. Bruins with the sweep…

  3. joshuakorr - Apr 7, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    Bruins are a much more solid and stable team. Caps will do well if they get this to game 7.

  4. mikeincmn - Apr 7, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Ill go with Boston and while I don’t expect them to just roll the Caps, I just think capitals have too big of a question in net to be taken all that seriously. Ill say Boston in 5.

  5. bruins2011 - Apr 8, 2012 at 12:22 AM

    I think the bruins are definitely the better team but I was really hoping they would play Ottawa. The physical long game will hurt them against Washington since Washington is recovering from so many issues time is their friend. plus if their goal really is day to day the bruins will need to come out quick and win.

  6. bobhpine - Apr 8, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    The bruins have two fourth lines

    • jond86 - Apr 8, 2012 at 7:36 AM

      Two fourth lines that score, kill penalties, get pucks in deep, wear down defense, and help win games.

  7. steviep23 - Apr 8, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    I like the caps in the underdog role for once.

  8. scalfor3 - Apr 8, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    Bs are the better team but the caps will give them problems. i wouldn’t be surprised if this goes 7

  9. mrpickled - Apr 8, 2012 at 1:48 AM

    THIMBLECANS!

  10. movinonyoleft - Apr 8, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    If it’s anything like their meetings during the season then it will hopefully be Caps in 6!

  11. bethgoesglobal - Apr 8, 2012 at 2:27 AM

    I love this match up! It’ll be tough, gritty, and relentless. Hope the Caps can get under the Bruins skin and cause their more volatile players take a lot of stupid penalties. Maybe some political debate will get Thomas distracted and desperate to get to his Facebook page.
    Maybe Caps fans should throw democratic “asses”/donkeys at Thomas whenever the Caps score. If nothing else I think plenty of Americans would get a good laugh at it!

    • bethgoesglobal - Apr 8, 2012 at 2:36 AM

      Well, plenty of DC-Metro area fans would laugh (most Americans probably wouldn’t get it at all)

  12. hairpie - Apr 8, 2012 at 3:05 AM

    There are no “defending champs” in seasonal team sports. Every season starts 0-0.

    • 8man - Apr 8, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      I agree. So true. I’m a big Bruins fan, but what they last year is immaterial here. Just as, if they are eliminated from the playoffs, they are still the 2010-2011 Cup Champions.

  13. dcfan4life - Apr 8, 2012 at 4:43 AM

    The Capitals have all the pieces back healthy and it showed with a strong end to the season. Then there best goaltender goes down, and there still not sure when Neuvirth will return. Id be shocked if this doesnt go at least 6. I like the Capitals in 7. This could be the best first round series in the entire playoffs.

  14. jond86 - Apr 8, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    Goaltending will ruin the Caps. Bruins in 6

  15. govtminion - Apr 8, 2012 at 7:55 AM

    The Caps have Backstrom again, and that’s huge for them. Of course, it’s the tandem from the Hershey Bears in net, and that’s not good news- Brayden Holtby has an NHL career ahead of him, but he’s let in some bad goals at times. This is not a good time for training-day. (Hunter’s schtick that Neuvirth’s injury is ‘not bad’… did he see the injury?)

    I think the Caps can steal a game, two if they really pour on the attack and surprise the Bruins, but in the end it’s just not enough. Caps put up a good fight in a five-game series before Boston moves on.

  16. pastabelly - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    The Bruins are a better all around team and know how to play playoff style hockey better. 5 or 6 games.

  17. banshee950 - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    I was hoping for the Sens too, Caps are a wildcard, its too hard to know what to expect from them, if Ovi lights up…Backstrom back, somewhat unknown goalie, it will be interesting. As a superstitious B’s fan I’m nervous about the bad juju from Caps series past. looking forward to a great series and I go with B’s in 6. so long as they can keep THIER F%&KING TOES OUT OF THE CREASE!!!!!!!!

  18. bmorethansteel - Apr 8, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    Caps own the reg season series 3-1. Washington is not scared of the Bs and play them very well. You can have your 2nd forth line. I’ll take a healthy Backstrom and Green and Holtby is on fire! Did you see his play against the NYR last night? Sick!!!

  19. mgp1219 - Apr 8, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    when dennis wideman is your shut down defenseman, you’ve got big problems. B’s in 5.

    • dipthatchip - Apr 8, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      he’s def not considered the shutdown man in the District…the name Karl Alzner ring a bell?

      • mgp1219 - Apr 8, 2012 at 3:13 PM

        so what lkne is Alzner going to “shut down”, Krejci-Lucic-Peverly or Bergeron-Seguin-Marchand?

    • bethgoesglobal - Apr 8, 2012 at 3:30 PM

      The Caps have proven that they can compete with the Bruins big, burly D-men. Size doesn’t always matter.

  20. kgun80 - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    5 games… Sorry Caps fans.. You don’t have the goaltending .. Your D is soft.. As a Buffalo fan I have seen first hand how Boston handles speed.. And will break down opponents physically and mentally they may seem out of control but the Bruins do have a method to their madness..

    • dcfan4life - Apr 8, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      Then you didnt watch the last 5 games for the Caps, nor the 4 games against the Bruins, including 2 wins in Boston in the last month. Your comments on the Bruins strengths are fine, but name the last time the Caps gave up 6 goals for such a soft defense and bad goaltending? The answer would be November 25th…

  21. jrocknstuff - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Everyone saying goaltending will kill the Caps has never seen Holtby play. The kid is an NHL goaltender. He is far from third string. The Caps may lose this series, but it won’t be due to Holtby….. or Neuvirth if he is able to go. The Caps are still weak on the blue line, as they always have been. Regardless I like Washington in 6. The key will be getting bodies on Thomas. The more traffic they put in front of him, the better chance they have of throwing him off his game. If they can’t get anyone to the net, they will be going home in 5

    • joshuakorr - Apr 8, 2012 at 6:33 PM

      I’ve never thought of the caps as a team that gets bodies on the goalie.

  22. steviep23 - Apr 8, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    All the caps need is one win in the first two games and shift home ice. I don’t see them having a problem doing that.

    • bethgoesglobal - Apr 8, 2012 at 3:37 PM

      The fact that the Caps have played well and won both games in Boston is a serious boost for their confidence given their record away from home.

  23. elvispocomo - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    I’d like to say the Caps, but even if they’re backup-backup goalie is good enough to play in the NHL, how long will it take fro the Bruins to run him in the first game? I’m not saying they’re looking for intent to injure, but certainly some ‘incidental’ contact is coming Holtby’s way. If the Casps can make them pay with some goals, they might survive, but chances aren’t good.

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