Capitals success no fluke


Capitals success no fluke

There were many that slapped around the Bruins and continue to inflict the dope slaps with impunity after losing to the No. 7 seed Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs. Rightfully so given their offensive dysfunction and stunning lack of energy at key moments in the seven-game series.

But now the Washington Capitals have pushed the top-seeded New York Rangers to a seventh and deciding game at Madison Square Garden, and proven they were much better than a typical No. 7 seed. Braden Holtby has a .935 save percentage and a 1.95 goals against average through the 13 games Washington has played during the postseason, and hes fortified one of the positions that always sabotaged the Caps in the end.

AlexOvechkin has bought into Dale Hunters program and played one of his best games of the playoffs last night while helping push Washington into their second straight series with a Game 7. Bottom-line grinder forwards like Jay Beagle, Matt Hendricks, Jason Chimera, Joel Ward and Keith Aucoin have been playing with energy and effectiveness in both series.

Somehow Hunter was managed to wrangle a group of underachievers and perceived malcontents into a unit all playing together as a cohesive force, and their series against the Rangers proves the first round was no fluke.

Could a healthy Bruins team -- with the proper injection of energy have defeated the Capitals?


But it was no fluke that Washington scalped the Bruins, and it was foolish for anyone to judge the Capitals by what they had done during a regular season where they slacked enough to get Bruce Boudreau fired. Ovechkin and Washington had proven everything they needed to during past regular seasons filled with division titles and gaudy point totals.

The Caps were focused on making an impact in the playoffs. Now theyve done that while possibly carving out a possibility of keeping their nucleus together when it appeared on the verge of breaking up this summer. The Rangers struggles with handling the Capitals should let people know the Bruins werent alone in experiencing a difficult time handling trouble from Washington.

The Bruins didnt play their best, but their postseason demise was just as much a Washington thing as much as it was a Boston thing.

Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch


Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch

BOSTON -- It wasn’t perfect by any means, but Saturday night represented a step in a positive direction for Ryan Spooner.

The 24-year-old speedy forward was scratched for the home opener against New Jersey in classic message-sending fashion by Bruins coach Claude Julien, and deserved it based on a passive lack of production combined with some costly mistakes as well. So he stayed quiet, put in the work and then returned to the lineup Saturday vs. the Montreal Canadiens where he scored a power play goal in the 4-2 loss to the Habs at TD Garden.

“He was better,” agreed Claude Julien. “He was better tonight.”

Spooner could have had even more as he got a couple of great scoring chances in the first period vs. Montreal, but Carey Price was able to turn away a couple of free looks at the Montreal net. So the Bruins forward felt he possibly left points on the ice after it was all said and done, but also clearly played his best game of the young season after going from the press box back to the lineup.

“Yeah, I had like maybe four or five [chances] that I could have scored on,” said Spooner. “I’ve just got to bear down on those [scoring opportunities], and a lot [of them] in the first period. It’s good that I’m getting those looks, but I have to score on them.

“I’m just going to go out there and just try to play. I can’t really think about [fighting to hold a spot]. I’ve just got to go out there and try to play, I guess, the game I can and try to use the speed that I have.”

The Spooner power play strike was a nifty one with the shifty forward and David Backes connecting on a pass across the front of the net, and the young B’s forward showing the necessary assertiveness cutting to the net from his half-wall position.

Spooner had five shot attempts overall in the game, and was one of the few Bruins players really getting the chances they wanted against a pretty effective Montreal defensive group. Now it’s a matter of Spooner, along with linemates Backes and David Krejci, scoring during 5-on-5 play and giving the Bruins a little more offensive balance after riding Boston’s top line very hard during the regular season’s first couple of weeks. 

Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils


Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while waiting to find out which Walking Dead character got brained by Lucille in last season’s cliffhanger. I’m going with Abraham.

*The SI roundtable talks about the future of Jacob Trouba, and where he’ll end up going when his current situation resolves itself.

*P.K. Subban is apparently getting very comfortable in Nashville, and enjoying life in a city with NFL football.

*Fun conversation between Yahoo’s Josh Cooper and Brad Marchand about a whole range of random topics.

*A cool father-son story where they became the goaltending tandem for the Ontario Reign through a series of dominoes falling after Jonathan Quick went down with injury for the Los Angeles Kings.

*Pro Hockey Talk has Taylor Hall serving as exactly what the New Jersey Devils have needed for the last couple of years.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Shaughnessy says that the MLB playoffs couldn’t have played out any worse for the Boston Red Sox.