Capitals Quarterfinals Match-up: Early Predictions & Thoughts on Goalies
April 10, 2012 in nhl
By DC Staff Writer John Manuel:
The Capitals can thank the late failures of the Ottawa Senators for a better first round playoff match-up. Although, handily defeating the Rangers Saturday, they have to be very thrilled to get the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Saying that does make me miss the old structure of the Patrick and Adams Divisions.
I would much rather see the defending Stanley Cup champions than the conference leaders the Rangers. I have a gut feeling the Caps can take the Bruins in this series. No stats, records, head to head numbers, just a gut feeling.
My main concern for the Caps in this series is the goalie play all-around. Tomas Vokoun was brought in for this type of situation but he is hurt and not available. To me, it’s not a huge issue that he is out. I don't think of Vokoun as a legendary playoff netminder or big game goalie.
At a young age, Michal Neuvirth has as much playoff experience as Vokoun. But will he play? If not, we got ole #70, Braden Holtby. Holtby was great Saturday in New York. Can he handle the playoff pressure? No one knows, but we can hope he pulls a Varlomov of a few years ago.
The Bruins clearly have a huge advantage on paper in the nets, but for at least two games Tim Thomas will have to come to the home of his "idol" President Obama. Could be a huge distraction? Can you imagine if the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare on the same day as Game 3? Thomas will be a whack job. Any day now when they make the "Goonies" remake, he should be cast as Sloth.
The main reason I feel the Capitals can take this series is the play of their stars the past few games. Backstrom is a pro and seems to be getting his game back. He was their best player before the cheap shot and he will need to play that way in this series.
Alexander Semin is due. He is still a part of this team for a reason. Time to make a difference, time to put shots on goal and not wide. If any player had future earnings on the line, it’s Semin in these playoffs.
Over the past month I have questioned the play of Mike Green and John Carlson. Both looked great on Saturday and will need that to continue. Green still doesn't seem like the same offensive player but his defensive play is way underrated. And it looks like Carlson is out of Dale Hunter dog house finally, because he will be needed.
I feel that I can write this without any real Ovie talk. I am confident he will step up all around. Plus, they brought in guys like Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer to step up and make playoff "John Druce is Loose" style magic.
The Bruins have a rising star in Tyler Seguin that could go off, and that worries me. Although it was interesting to see when verifying the spelling of “Seguin”, he is supposedly hanging out with Miss November. A 20-year old kid with Miss November? This could be a distraction that Caps need. Zdeno Chara is due for some karma also. He almost decapitated a player in Montreal last year and then ends up skating around with the Stanley Cup.
Will Dale Hunter rise up in the playoffs? Many would say he scored the most famous goal in Caps history in a Game 7 overtime versus the Flyers. Or will we get the Dale Hunter who crushed Pierre Turgeon in frustration in the playoffs? His future as coach is clearly on the line. I can't see him not being able to motivate a team for a playoff series. Hunter is probably trying to figure out a way he can get on the ice like the old guy (Nate Scarborough) in the "Longest Yard." It would be nice for either Holtby or Neuvirth to take control of the net early for Hunter.
My early prediction: I think they drop Game 1, but bounce back with a Game 2 win. This series could have some late nights, biting finger nails in sudden death overtime. I really, really, really in my gut feel the Capitals take this in 6.