If game one is any indication of what’s ahead for the Bruin’s first round playoff series versus the Washington Capitals, then we are in for a long and arduous ride. The Bruins defeated the Capitals in overtime 1-0 on Thursday night, off the stick of Chris Kelly, whose goal one minute and eighteen seconds into overtime sent the home crowd of 17,565 into an uproar, as the Bruins go up one game in their best of seven series. The game was one that was physical and slow-paced, with each time not giving an inch in the neutral ice, making puck movement especially difficult. In the first two periods, it was the Bruins who held the edge, outshooting their opponents 26-7. It was the play of freshly called up rookie Braden Holtby in net that kept the Capitals hanging around for those first two stanzas. Holtby looked hot all evening, minus the goal allowed in OT, and may give the Bruins a few more headaches as the series wears on. He played confident and poised in the net, taking control of his crease, even at the expense of a roughing penalty in the second period.
The Capitals, although not having as many chances, did have a few quality opportunities to put the puck in the net, most notably at around five minutes into the third period, Capitals captain and league superstar Alex Ovechkin teed-up a one timer from the faceoff dot to the right of Tim Thomas. Thomas was able to come across his crease and make a spectacular, stretched-out blocker save, robbing the Capitals of their shot to break the stalemate. The untold story of this evening that will be washed into the Bruin’s superb defensive play, is the game played by Thomas. Facing only seven shots in the first two periods combined and seventeen overall, means that Thomas had to be sharp and focused without feeling any rubber. To the casual fan it can be assumed that the less shots the better, but it is no easy task to find a groove in a game where shots are coming in spurts. Thomas made the easy saves well and also managed to make the difficult saves without having many straightforward ones to warm up with.
It seems like the powerplay bug is following the Bruins again this postseason just as it did last year. The B’s were unable to convert on four powerplay opportunities. That’s four chances they squandered to make lives easier on themselves by putting one in the net.
Chris Kelly’s overtime goal was something of a good omen for the Bruins moving forward. Getting those kinds of breaks in the playoffs do not come from chance, but hard work and they are necessary if a team wants to make a deep run in hockey’s second season. The Bruins worked hard and caught a break with an average shooter in Kelly firing a great shot to beat an out-of-position rookie playing in just his 22nd NHL game. Holtby was stellar all evening and made one mistake at the wrong time, a rookie mistake one would say. Surely the Bruins will come out for game two of the series Saturday night just as physical and determined. More goals would be great, but the B’s know their identity and so does everyone else: smart, rough, and in your face. In my opinion, that sounds like the make-up of a champion.
- Joe Mello, WBRU Sports