Capitals Outsider Roundtable: Round 1

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Posted May 14, 2021

Longtime Bruin Zdeno Chara faces his old team (via the Caps)

It’s playoff time again! Here are Caps Outsider’s predictions:

Barbara Banks

This is going to be a really tough series. The Bruins are a good veteran team and have taken 4 out of 7 games against the Caps this season. Keep in mind that the playoffs are a whole different level of play and both teams have a lot of scoring potential.  I anticipate high scoring games with Alex Ovechkin and David Pastrnak leading the charge for their respective teams. If the Caps can stay healthy, play smart and stay out of the penalty box, they can take the Bruins and move to the next series.

Caps in 7.

Matthew Shea

Caps fans should anticipate a physical and aggressive series against the Bruins. The two squads split the season series and are pretty evenly matched with talent and depth. However, Washington still has some missing pieces. 

Toward the end of the season, the Bruins surged into third place while injury problems held the Caps back from first. It is reassuring that Washington will have Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson all back on the ice, but there is still concern about whether they will regain their full lineup in time for the playoffs. With Ilya Samsonov still on the covid-list, Vitek Vanecek will likely get the nod. While Vanecek has played well, he still lacks playoff experience (then again, so does Samsonov).

On another high note, the Caps defense has improved throughout the season and it will be key once again in the playoffs in order to stop the Bruins’ top point getters like Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Bruins’ new acquisition Taylor Hall has also been playing impressively since joining Boston. The Caps’ penalty kill has been impressive and will need to carry suit in the playoffs. 

It will be a hard task to stop the Bruins’ stars but Washington has the firepower to match them if they can get the power play going. Despite some uncertainty in the past week, the Caps will in fact regain some of their top power play unit for the playoffs. The Caps’ power play is one of the best in the league and will need to capitalize on chances in order to be successful in the playoffs. Washington has played well and consistently all season. It will be a tough series but if the defense stays strong, the power play unit steps up and the Caps bring the intensity they can certainly advance past Boston.

Caps in 6. 

Andrew Chodes

After facing each other in eight slugfests this season, the Capitals and Bruins will not be exchanging pleasantries when they meet up in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There has been almost nothing to separate the clubs, with each team taking four games apiece. In what is bound to be an extremely physical series, the matchup will come down to two key factors for the Caps.

First and foremost, they need to focus on containing the top two lines of Boston. The Bruins’ “perfection line” has been spectacular for seasons on end and the only way to stop them is to force them to play in their end. A revelation for the Bruins has been the stellar play of their second line. The acquisition of former Hart Trophy winner in Hall has done wonders for that line and centerman David Krejci. Hall’s skill and Krejci’s vision make for a dangerous tandem that will need to be contained.

The second and probably more important factor is special teams. In the season series, the Caps dominated the special team’s battle. The penalty kill was 21/24 and the powerplay was firing on all cylinders cracking at 25.8%. If Peter Laviolette’s crew wants to advance, they need to continue their special team’s success. The likely addition of John Carlson to the lineup will be massive for Washington as he is both the first power play’s quarterback and the backbone of the penalty kill.

I think the Capitals put up a strong fight but the second line of the Bruins gives Boston the slight edge in the series and will ultimately lead to a series victory. This will be an insanely physical series with a couple of overtimes.

Bruins in 6 games.

Brandon Alter

The East Division was always going to be a heavyweight matchup no matter who was playing who in the first round of the playoffs. A lot of times in the playoffs it is about getting hot at the right time and that’s exactly what the Bruins are. Since being thrashed 8-1 on home ice to the Caps on April 11, the Bruins are 12-4-1.

Before the deadline, the Bruins were a one line team with the “perfection line” trio of Pastrnak, Marchand and Bergeron. With the addition of Hall, they’ve now got a second line that can hurt you if you give them the chance. The Caps top-nine will need to find a way to keep pace. With Evgeny Kuznetsov still on the COVID-19 list as of Friday afternoon, his status, along with Samsonov for the series is unknown. Coupled with some recent injuries, it is hard to see how the Caps can keep up, especially with inexperience in net. Vanecek and Samsonov have a combined zero playoff games while 39-year-old Craig Anderson last played a playoff game in the 2016-17 season for the Ottawa Senators.

I have said all year that the Bruins were the one team I didn’t think the Caps could beat in a 7 game series, and I am sticking to it.

Bruins in 6.

Ben Sumner

The Caps have every reason to win this series, and every reason to lose it. Like in their 2018 Stanley Cup-winning postseason, they’re vulnerable, and nothing short of a herculean effort and puck luck will send them back to the Finals this year. The Bruins, on the other hand, are in the same boat. Both teams will scratch and claw to win this series. The games will be close, sometimes settled in overtime, with random bounces and misplays determining the outcome. I believe – know – the Caps can win this series, but they tend to clam up when the pressure is on, as the extra strain cracks them under the pressure. Let’s just hope they get that extra bounce.

Bruins in 7.