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Series at a glance: Boston-Washington playoff preview

Apr 8, 2012, 7:30 PM EDT

Schedule

All times are Eastern.

* – if necessary

Thursday April 12 in Boston @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
Saturday April 14 in Boston @ 3 p.m. (NBC, CBC)
Monday April 16 in Washington @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
Thursday April 19 in Washington @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
*Saturday April 21 in Boston @ 3 p.m. (NBC, CBC)
*Sunday April 22 in Washington @ TBD (TBD)
*Wednesday April 25 in Boston @ TBD (TBD)

Three storylines to follow

1. Help for Ovechkin. For all the talk about Alex Ovechkin‘s struggling in the clutch, he’s been red-hot lately. In fact, he almost surged to 40 goals (finished with 38) and came through when Washington needed him most. With Zdeno Chara in tow, the Bruins likely have at least a chance of slowing Ovi down, so can the rest of the Capitals — including possibly-not-100 percent-guys like Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom — step up when needed?

2. Goaltending disparity. Tim Thomas, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, has shown he can win a series almost single-handedly. Meanwhile, the Capitals are rolling with an inexperienced (and banged-up) No. 2 in Michal Neuvirth and/or a well-loved but green No. 3 in Braden Holtby. On paper, that’s a pretty big advantage for Boston.

3. Road woes. When you look at Washington’s numbers, its woeful road record of 16-21-4 jumps out more than anything else. Can they fight through some trying times in front of Boston’s fans or fold when things get tough?

Records

Boston: 49-29-4, 102 points (1st in Atlantic; 2nd in Eastern Conference) | Washington: 42-32-8, 92 points (2nd in Southeast; 7th in Eastern Conference)

Leading scorers

Boston: Tyler Seguin (29G-38A-67PTS) | Washington: Alex Ovechkin (38G-27A-65PTS)

Starting goalies

Boston: Tim Thomas (35-19-1, 2.36 GAA) | Washington: Michal Neuvirth (13-13-15, 2.82 GAA) or Braden Holtby (4-2-1, 2.50 GAA)

Head-to-head

Washington won series 3-1
Jan. 24: At Washington 5, Boston 3
Feb. 5: Boston 4, at Washington 1
March 10: Washington 4, at Boston 3
March 29: Washington 3, at Boston 2, SO

Last 10 games

Boston: 7-2-1 | Washington: 6-2-2

Playoff history

Series tied 1-1
1990: Boston 4-0 (Wales Conference finals)
1998: Washington 4-2 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals)

2011 playoffs

Boston: Def. Montreal 4-3 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals); def. Philadelphia 4-0 (Eastern Conference semifinals), def. Tampa Bay 4-3 (Eastern Conference finals); def. Vancouver 4-3 (Stanley Cup finals) | Washington: Def. NY Rangers 4-1 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals); lost to Tampa Bay 4-0 (Eastern Conference semifinals)

Stanley Cups

Boston: 6 (1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011) | Washington: None

Injuries

Boston: Adam McQuaid (eye), Johnny Boychuk (knee), Tuukka Rask (groin) and Nathan Horton (concussion). (You may count Marc Savard‘s concussion, too.)

Washington: Michal Neuvirth (leg), Tomas Vokoun (lower body), John Erskine (lower body) and Tom Poti (groin).

  1. phillyphever - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    Boston in 5. If Washington had a goalie, this might have been a 7 game series.

    • ravenscaps48 - Apr 8, 2012 at 9:47 PM

      Booo!

  2. dcdiehard82 - Apr 8, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    Caps in 6, 19 is healthy and 8 in on fire Boston better hope 28 doesn’t heat up or this will be the upset of the playoffs…

    • pepper2011 - Apr 9, 2012 at 9:37 AM

      Chara/Seidenberg.

  3. kitshky - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    I think both Vancouver and Boston’s 1st round matchups have a little “upset potentional” in them but I gotta think they’ll both get through, cause ya know … I like to go out on a limb like that.

  4. cup0pizza - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    Bruins in 6 at the most

  5. bergeronforselke - Apr 9, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    I figure a six game afair…and that may be good for the Bruins to be challenged right off the bat. Don’t see Thornton seeing ice time during this series.

  6. capsfan19 - Apr 9, 2012 at 6:59 AM

    I honestly feel an upset coming. It seems like we’ve had boston’s number all year. Yes they beat us one game of our four game serie big whoop and yes the playoffs are a different animal. But it isnt a one way street.
    I think people are expecting to come out looking like a bunch of sad puppies. And its not the case. We just barely made it into the playoffs and we’re going to have alot of momentum at our backs. It’ll certainly make for a good series

    • pepper2011 - Apr 9, 2012 at 9:17 AM

      You haven’t exactly “had their number all year”. You played them 3 times when they were playing terrible hockey. The game in late march was a bit of a fluke as well; as you won in a SO when Thomas fell down. The last 3 minutes of that game are probably a good indication of what the series is going to be like. You can pretty much remove your top line from having an impact; with or without backstrom. Chara and Seidenburg won’t give them much. That leaves it up to your secondary scoring, and I just don’t see it happening. B’s in 4.

      • ithacamike - Apr 9, 2012 at 9:38 AM

        fell down? ha. another way to describe it…faked out of his jockstrap by matt “the paralyzer” hendricks

        should be a great series…will be interesting to see how loose the caps play as underdogs; first time they’ve opened a playoff series on the road since like ’02

      • rockthered1286 - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:18 AM

        Pepper are you serious? Can you really say ‘let’s disregard the 1st 3 games and all but the last 3 minutes of the 4th game…’ Where’s that logic? That’s like me saying the Bruins lost to the Caps 2 out of the first 3 games when we were playing terrible hockey and didn’t have Green or Backstrom, 2 of our top players so in essence, we should have crushed you everytime. Caps in 6. Bruins are too far up on their high horse and underestimating this Caps team and Holtby.

        PS- Thomas got humiliated by Hendricks. He didn’t fall he bit that move HARD. Icing on the cake was when he actually feel headed into the tunnel.

  7. jond86 - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    With the way fans are talking on PHT and other sites it sounds like a Boston win would be an upset; apparently Washington has this one in the bag. Season series cannot come close to predicting playoffs. Maybe take a look at Washington’s terrible record on the road…

  8. capsfan19 - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    We won three out of four games in the span from feb to march. So they werent in their rut for the last two. The first when perrault scored 3 maybe cause that was during that span but honestly that shouldnt be an excuse. If boston is soooo good and the caps are so bad maybe u shouldve won more eh?
    And timmy fallin?? Ha more like getting his ankles broke! He got owned and was pissed about it. That why he couldnt bat the puck and tripped gettin off the ice.
    People that are assured the bruins will win im excited about because if there is an upset it’ll make it that much better.

    • jond86 - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:18 PM

      And people that think the Caps are assured a victory because of a season series record and a shootout goal are incredibly numb.

  9. bensawesomeness - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Most interesting thing about this series is that Washington had a 3-1 regular season record against Boston.

    I’m still going to go with Boston, because i like to think that the better teams win 4 before their opponents

    i’ll probably have it going 6 tho, tied at 2-2 before Boston says f*** that, lets win this, and finishes Washington off

  10. cba77 - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Being a B’s fan, of course i think they win in 5…sure if OVI get s hot it could be a longer series, maybe even an upset….but since when do the Capitals deserve any respect? They are a bunch of dogs that deserve to be treated as such until they prove different

  11. mgp1219 - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    not to mention that they got their coach fired. Then they hired Dale hunter for their head coach. Seriously??
    B’s in 5 because Washington’s defense is ,um, not very good.

  12. govtminion - Apr 9, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    The goaltending is the obvious difference between the two, and the defense is probably the single largest gap (Caps defense is just wretched)… to me though, the one player to watch more than any other is Alex Semin. If he has a good first round it would A) be the first time he’s ever shown up in the playoffs, and B) could help turn the tide and take some of the pressure off of Backstrom, Ovechkin, etc.- enough to make it a series, perhaps.

    If he does his usual April disappearing act, the rest of the Caps will follow in short order.

    I’ll take B’s in five because I don’t see the above scenario happening. This could be Semin’s last few games in Washington, if he fails to perform again.

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