After their 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins Wednesday, the Washington Capitals are now 16-1-0 in their last 17 games against the Bruins and have outscored the B’s 48-24 over that span. With this latest win, the Capitals swept the season series for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.
The Caps were led by T.J. Oshie, who had two goals in a 3:20 span early in the second period to give the Caps a 2-1 lead at the time and defenseman John Carlson, who scored the game-winner 4:42 into the third period and also assisted on Oshie’s first goal. David Pastrnak padded his league lead in goals with his 26th lamplighter 9:36 into the first period and Sean Kuraly had a beautiful tip-in to tie the game at two 2:53 into the third period, tying the game at two apiece before Carlson’s 12th of the season put the Caps ahead 3-2 just 1:49 later.
After getting dominated on the shot clock (44-23) in the 3-2 shootout loss to the Capitals in Boston back on November 16, the Bruins held the edge in shots 32-25 Wednesday but just as he always seems to be, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby was up to the task, making 30 saves in the win. Bruins goalie Jaro Halak wasn’t as great as he was when he made 42 saves in that shootout loss just under a month ago, but he was good enough to give the Bruins a chance Wednesday with a 22-save performance. Halak made some key saves during the Bruins’ two third period power plays as the Bruins struggled again on the man-advantage going 0-for-5.
The Bruins have now lost four straight games, going 0-3-1 during that span and it won’t get any easier as they play Thursday night in Tampa Bay against the Lightning, another team they’ve struggled against this season and the past few.
Capitals Are Bruins’ Daddy
Don’t expect the Bruins to go full Pedro Martinez after losing another to the Capitals, but let’s face it, they should just tip their helmets to the Capitals and call them their “Daddy” because they are. The Capitals own the Bruins and are collectively cooking dinner in their kitchen before the games even start and any time something goes wrong for the Bruins in-game. Just as Martinez had for so long against the Yankees, the Bruins have played the Capitals hard and with the exception of the 7-0 shellacking the Caps laid on the B’s in the 2018-19 season opener, there have mostly been great and playoff-like games between the two clubs. The problem is that the Bruins always seem to burn themselves with giveaways and mental breakdowns and eventually lose.
Of course, Martinez was able to rectify his status against the Yankees only a month after he said that when he helped the Red Sox break the curse and beat the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship and then win the World Series for the first time in 86 years, and a playoff series win over the Capitals is likely the only way the Bruins get out from under this futile stretch against the Capitals.
With both teams so far ahead in the standings in their divisions and the conference, there’s a very solid chance, that the Bruins will get their chance to do so in the Eastern Conference Final and will need to beat the Caps to make it back to the Stanley Cup Final. Right now though, the edge in a Caps-Bruins seven-game series would have to go to the Capitals, and one could argue it may only take five games for them to remind the Bruins once again, who their daddy is!
What Has Happened To Vaunted Bruins Powerplay?
For the first two months of the season, the Bruins either had the best or second-best powerplay at any given time. Obviously Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Torey Krug accounted for much of the Bruins’ success on the man-advantage, but others like David Krejci, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk were generating as well. As opponents have found ways to shut down the Bruins’ big guns, the real problem That second powerplay unit and overall depth have gone silent and that has been the major reason the Bruins are now 1-for-25 in their last seven games. The Bruins have also allowed teams to keep them to the perimeter too much and simply aren’t getting enough quality scoring chances on the powerplay.
End The Ritchie Experiment Already!
No one can blame Bruins general manager Don Sweeney for wanting his team to get bigger and grittier after they were manhandled by the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Clearly that was the intent by signing 6’4, 220-pound winger Brett Ritchie on the cheap last July 1. Well, even though Ritchie has been hampered by an infection that has had him and out of the lineup, the 2011 second round pick by the Dallas Stars has still been underwhelming when healthy and simply doesn’t seem to know how and when to use his big frame. Ritchie had no points in 9:06 TOI and 14 shifts Wednesday. He now has just two goals and two assists in 19 games this season.
The Ritchie Experiment hasn’t worked and one would think the Bruins will go back to David Backes Thursday night in Tampa Bay, but despite Backes playing great in his first three games back after sitting out for a month with a concussion, he can’t seem to get out of head coach Bruce Cassidy’s doghouse. Cassidy has shown a great ability to read his team and make the right lineup moves but his stubbornness with Ritchie over Backes has been quite baffling. Backes grit and leadership presence on the ice, bench and in the dressing room was exactly what the Bruins needed in another tough loss to the Capitals and what they will need in a potential conference final tilt with the rugged and skilled Caps.