While its no excuse for any hockey team once the playoffs are over, the Boston Bruins werent a healthy team against the Washington Capitals.
They were missing their Game 7 playoff hero in Nathan Horton and one of their biggest, toughest defenseman around the net in Adam McQuaid, and that did have an effect against a Washington Capitals team that played an unexpectedly heavy style during the playoffs.
The size thing cant be understated. Even when you look at, and our replacements, I felt if we get past this round and thats what happens when theres so much parity. If you can get past this round I think you can do some damage, said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. You get a different mindset when youre past that first round. To grind guys down, you need some size and you need some grit. If you look at McQuaid and Horton, I know Horton is a scorer but hes big that he tires out defensemen. Same thing with McQuaid.
When you go back and you look, so youve got Horton, Michael Ryder, Rex Mark Recchi and those guys, for all their style of play they were heavy players. So yeah, you miss some of that this year. When you dont have Horton and McQuaid, it magnifies that and you saw it in Washingtons third and fourth lines. Those are some big, heavier guys like Joel Ward, Matt Hendricks, Troy Brouwer; those guys lean on people and over a seven game series when teams are close it makes a difference.
The good news for the Bruins now that the season is over: Horton and McQuaid should be fine headed into next season. A full summer off should do wonders to clear the concussion-caused fog plaguing both players, and Chiarelli was counting on both players for next season.
I expect both to make a full recovery. I havent met with McQuaid yet today, but I met with Horton and he was good, said Chiarelli. He said hes feeling a lot better and looking forward to next year. With tracking McQuaids progress in the playoffs, he was coming around and I expect a full recovery.
The Horton injury is clearly a bigger concern, but the winger shouldnt lack for motivation next season with good health and a contract year on tap for the power forward. Theres also no question the Bruins are a better team with these players in the fold, and thats when the Bruins were at their best last season back in November and December.