The Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals will get back at it for Game 2 of their first round Stanley Cup playoff series at the Capital One Center in Washington DC tonight (7:30 PM ET, NBC, CBC, TVAS, SN).
The Bruins are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals on Saturday night where their top two forward lines certainly weren’t at their best against Washington. The Capitals lost starting goalie Vitek Vanacek to a lower body injury in the first period and were forced into playing little-used backup Craig Anderson, but the Bruins couldn’t muster up enough quality chances or shots on net despite the circumstances.
In fact, the Boston Bruins missed a whopping 21 shots on net over the course of the game and felt afterward like they’d missed a golden chance to get the upper hand in the playoff series.
“I just think a lot of the guys that do a lot of the scoring for us just weren’t able to get to their games tonight,” said Cassidy. “[They couldn’t] get the puck to cooperate or support each other well enough to generate enough offense. It wasn’t really typical of what we’ve seen lately from that group, so hopefully in Game 2 they are a little sharper.”
There are plenty of Boston Bruins fans critiquing Tuukka Rask for the goofy goal he gave up in overtime on a tipped puck that hit his chest and then somehow trickled into the net for the game-winner. But the bottom line is that all of Boston’s best players, including the Perfection Line, didn’t play up to their usual standards.
“The [Capitals defenders] held the blue line well, but I don’t think we attacked them well enough,” said Cassidy. “We weren’t willing to drive wide, turn up and support pucks. I thought our O-zone spacing wasn’t enough to stretch them out. So, you couldn’t use your skill and foot speed. We had pockets of those situations, but just not enough.
“Our offensive game just wasn’t where it needed to be tonight. I thought our power play wasn’t crisp and it bled into our 5-on-5 [play]. Defensively our D-zone coverage was solid. The breakdowns on the rush were rush decisions, but at the end of the day [it was] not enough on the offensive side of things. We weren’t hard enough to play against in that regard.”
So, the Bruins will get ready for a much better Game 2 on Monday night hoping to come back to Boston with a split in the seven-game series.
-Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask will start Game 2 as confirmed by Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who doesn’t want to start a goaltending controversy this early in the playoff run. Rask was 15-5-2 with a 2.28 GAA and a .913 save percentage this season. Rask stopped 29-of-32 shots in Game 1 and was pretty solid through the 60 minutes with a few excellent saves in the third period to at least get the game to overtime.
-The Boston Bruins enter the playoffs on a 12-4-1 stretch since the NHL trade deadline, the best record in the NHL since then. But that’s all out the window after failing to climb all the way up to their playoff level in Game 1 while falling behind in the best-of-seven series against the Capitals.
-Jeremy Lauzon is out for Game 2 after taking a Justin Schultz slapshot off his right hand during the Game 1 loss last weekend. Lauzon led the Bruins with eight registered hits and four blocked shots, and the Bruins will miss his rugged, hardnosed style. Connor Clifton will get the call replacing Lauzon and play on the left side making his 2021 Stanley Cup playoff debut.
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–Defenseman John Moore is out for the season after undergoing hip surgery.
–The Bruins’ powerplay went 35-for-160 and had a tenth-best 21.9 % success rate in the regular season. They went 1-for-4 on the PP in Game 1 for a decent overall performance, but Bruce Cassidy wasn’t happy about Boston’s timid, predictable reaction to the pressure that Washington’s PK was throwing at them during Game 1.
-The PK finished second overall with an 86 % success rate. They killed off 153 of 178 powerplay attempts against them and also had a league-best nine shorthanded goals this season. They killed off Washington’s only power play attempt and did a good job of making the vaunted Capitals power play a non-factor in the first game.
Washington Capitals Notes
-The Capitals enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs with some big health question marks, but both Alex Ovechkin and TJ Oshie played big roles in Game 1 despite recent nagging physical issues bothering them.
“At the end of the day, Game 1 went our way, but it’s a brand new day today,” said Capitals coach Peter Laviolette. “And it’s up for grabs, so we’re going to have to be ready to go and I’m sure [the Bruins] are saying the same thing.”
-The Capitals are expected to be without Vanecek, who was 21-10-4 with a 2.69 GAA and .908 save percentage and had two shutouts this season. He appeared to suffer some kind of groin injury going into a full split attempting to stop Jake DeBrusk’s goal in Game 1 and had to hand things over to veteran Craig Anderson. Anderson stopped 21-of-22 shots in relief and is expected to get the start in Game 2 coming off his solid emergency performance.
-Each of the last ten postseason games played by the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals against each other have been one-goal games, the longest stretch for either team in their respective franchise’s history.
-In addition to Vanacek going down in Game 1, the Capitals will be without goalie Ilya Samsonov (COVID Protocol) and forward Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID Protocol), but both players have begun practicing with the team and could be closing on a return to the lineup soon. Defenseman Michal Kempny (Achilles) is out for the season.
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall – David Krejci – Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie – Sean Kuraly – Charlie Coyle
Jake DeBrusk – Curtis Lazar – Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly – Brandon Carlo
Connor Clifton – Kevan Miller
Alexander Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Anthony Mantha
Conor Sheary – Lars Eller – Michael Raffl
Daniel Sprong – TJ Oshie – Tom Wilson
Carl Hagelin – Nic Dowd – Garnet Hathaway
Dmitri Orlov – John Carlson
Brendan Dillon – Nick Schultz
Zdeno Chara – Nick Jensen