Without a doubt, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has been a surprise and is the story of the first two games. After allowing just one goal in each of the first two games, the Capitals are certainly feeling like that goaltending issue that had been discussed before the start of the series is a non issue.The Bruins offense has lacked crispness and consistent attack. The Capitals are winning the majority of battles and are the team that appears to have the motivation right now. They are blocking shots, getting physically involved with the B’s, and sticking to their game plan. As much as I have been disappointed with the black and gold through the first two game, some of their issues have to be credited to the surprise of Washington and Dale Hunters game plan.
For the last few years Bruce Boudreau had been trying to get this offensively minded team to buy into a defensive approach. For the last few years they did not listen, and did not have much playoff success. Dale Hunter has apparently gotten through. The Caps are employing a system reminiscent of the trap that Tampa Bay likes to play. Washington drops down into a 1 and 4 and just waits. They have been extremely patient and are quick to pucks and executing quick ups out of their zone. They have also played a patient neutral zone trap that has clogged the zone making entries hard and off-sides often for the B’s.
The good news you ask. The Bruins were able to make adjustments and break down that wicked trap enroute to a 7 game series Eastern Conference win last year. They maintained a wide 3 man entry and used the boards, dump ins, and hustle to get in behind the Lightning’s D men. Other teams did not have success (see Flyers vs Lightning) and Claude Julien had the answer. While that trap does not make for a real exciting affair, when properly used it is frustrating and effective. The Bruins will need to stay patient and stick to the game plan. Oh, some scoring wouldn’t hurt either, in particular from anyone not named Kelly or Pouliot. Puck drops at 7:30 for the first of two in our nation’s capital. Let’s Go Black and Gold!!!!