For most of the last decade, the Washington Capitals have owned the Boston Bruins when the two Eastern Conference titans have met.
Since 2010 the Bruins and Capitals have played a total of 45 times during the regular season and the Bruins have won a paltry 14 games over that span, not even including last year’s Bruins loss in the Toronto bubble or the seven-game series loss to the Capitals in the Stanley Cup playoffs back in 2012.
A lot of that was about Braden Holtby’s mastery over the Boston Bruins for a full decade, but in recent seasons it’s been more about a big, heavy and physical Capitals bunch punishing the formerly Big Bad Bruins any chance they would get.
Washington employed heavy hitters like Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, TJ Oshie and Dmitry Orlov in their lineup along with the obvious skill level, and they continuously add physical players like Brendan Dillon and Zdeno Chara to the mix on an annual basis as well. Last season’s regular season finale was the perfect example with the Bruins taking a rare 7-3 win over the Capitals on home ice, but in the process of a blowout loss the Capitals began running Bruins players and took both Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug out for extended periods of time.
In essence, the Bruins had few answers for a player like the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Wilson running around roughshod with players like Brad Marchand forced to fight out of their weight class in order to try and keep the peace. That wasn’t an effective deterrent at all, with all due credit to Marchand for stepping up and showing both leadership and gusts. But a funny has happened with the Boston Bruins after being pushed around by teams like the Capitals, the St. Louis Blues and, yes, even the Tampa Bay Lightning during their last two playoff meetings.
It sure feels like the Big Bad Bruins have gotten their toughness mojo back despite losing the ultimate intimidator in Chara.