On Sunday, the Boston Bruins defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1. The win clinched a 4-1 series for the Bruins, advancing them to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The game featured Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask saving 40 shots on net, only allowing one 11 seconds into the 3rd period. Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak also shined on offense, with Bergeron scoring twice at critical points in the game.
Despite the series finishing in 5 games, the series was a good one. Games 1 through 3 went to at least overtime (2OT for Game 3). But, it was clear that Boston had too much firepower for an older, slower, more banged up Washington squad. An early series ending leaves room for both teams to rest up. More importantly, this leaves Washington more time to think about the future of Alex Ovechkin and their goaltending situation.
Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov allowed 3 goals on 19 shots on Sunday. Samsonov took over in Game 1 after rookie Vitek Vanecek left with an injury, and was the goaltender for the remainder of the series. This was his 3rd consecutive start after making his NHL playoff debut.
On top of their goaltending issues, the Capitals also need to address the future for a lot of their current players. The Capitals brought in Peter Laviolette to help the team advance to a Stanley Cup Final. Laviolette has won a Stanley Cup previously, so this move earlier in the season meant that Washington was in a “win now” situation. The Capitals have a big decision to make with 35-year-old Alex Ovechkin’s contract expiring this year. Ovechkin is set to be a free agent this offseason. Washington has made it clear they want their franchise player back on a new contract, but the value for a contract is unknown at this time.
Throughout the series, the rest of Washington’s leaders were lackluster and could not produce a spark to get the team going. Leaders like TJ Oshie and Tom Wilson combined for two goals in the five games played. Oshie also was playing banged up after a lower-body injury in the final game of the regular season. Lars Eller was also playing after being injured in Game 2. Eller came back for Game 4 and 5 but was clearly in discomfort failing to get on the scoresheet. Evgeni Kuznetsov was also not a factor after returning in Game 3. He also finished the series without recording a point.
What’s Next for Boston
As for Boston, they have the luxury of resting up and watching at least two more Pittsburgh-New York games. That series is currently tied at 2 games apiece. Both teams played great hockey and left us with a very entertaining series, but it was the younger and healthier Bruins who came out on top. The Bruins also joined the Colorado Avalanche as the two teams to advance to the second round on Sunday.
Two series down, six to go in the first round of the playoffs. Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs!