- Monday, April 23, 2012 3:57 AM
- Written By: Josh Marks
History was made Sunday night in the first-round series between the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins. The 4-3 overtime final in favor of Boston marked the first time ever that all six games of an NHL playoff round have been decided by one goal. That's how close it's been, folks. These are two evenly matched teams battling for every inch of ice and for hockey fans and sports fans in general, this is the first-round series to watch.
The Bruins' Tyler Seguin scored in the extra frame to force a Game 7 Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston. It has been a roller coaster series with everything you expect from two teams that never say die -- hard hits, intense battles on the boards, creative play making, chirping, lucky bounces and great goaltending.
Let's discuss the goaltending for a moment. The Caps' 22-year-old rookie netminder Braden Holtby has come of age in this series. He is mature beyond his years and his confidence and composure against the defending Stanley Cup champions is magnificent to watch. Holtby is the main reason the Caps are in this series, as he has stonewalled the Bruins' relentless offensive zone pressure time and again. Win or lose this series, the Caps have their goalie of the future, and it is a very bright future indeed for young Holtby. And let's give credit to Tim Thomas. Yes, his off-the-ice political statements have tarnished his reputation, but Thomas is still one of the best goaltenders in the league. The reigning Vezina, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winner has made some spectacular stops in this series and kept the Bruins in it.
History has not been kind to the Capitals in Game 7s during the Oveckhin era, earning the Caps the unfortunate reputation as choking when it counts the most, of coming up small in the big games. Game 7 losses to the Flyers, Canadiens and Penguins have not instilled the confidence in Capitals Nation that this team will pull off a major upset against the Bruins on Wednesday. On the other hand, Boston has come up clutch in Game 7s. Last year Boston beat Montreal 4-3 in OT and Tampa 1-0 at TD Garden and then defeated the Canucks in Vancouver 4-0 to win the Stanley Cup.
So, the Boston Bruins should be heavily favored to beat the Washington Capitals Wednesday night. Order will be restored. The champs will move on after a scare from a seventh seed and the NHL playoffs can move on without those curious Caps. But maybe, just maybe, Washington can prove the critics wrong and reverse decades of playoff failure that have come to define this franchise. It's unlikely, but crazier things have happened. All it takes is a lucky bounce.