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.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars being released today. Amazing that the power and influence of the best movie franchise in cinematic history are just as strong today as it was four decades ago. I still remember my first time seeing it as a very little kid with my parents at the dearly departed Starlight Drive-In in North Reading.
*Good guy and recently fired Colorado Avalanche assistant coach Tim Army talks about a rough past season with the Avs, and some of the difficulties they faced in a truly terrible season. The former Providence College head coach and good hockey man shouldn’t have much trouble finding his next gig.
*A great move by the Arizona Coyotes, who have hired former Bruins forward Craig Cunningham as a pro scout after his awful medical situation last season that resulted in his leg getting amputated. Cunningham is a hard worker and a hockey lifer, and that’s exactly the kind of traits that the best scouts have in huge amounts.
*The New Jersey Devils have fired a number of employees after a rough season, including a groundbreaking radio analyst.
*With the ultra-competitive demand for an edge in NHL player development, teams are beginning to look to Europe for more and more diamonds in the rough. The Bruins tried that with Joonas Kemppainen, but it didn’t work out so well.
*One of the real big advantages of the Nashville Predators getting to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time is a national spotlight getting flashed on PK Subban, who shows off his personality in a rare ESPN interview of a hockey player featured on the network's magazine show.
*Ryan Johansen isn’t done talking smack to Ryan Kesler after the Predators prevailed over the Ducks, and it’s some delicious playoff hatred.
*Is the NHL ready to draft another goaltender with the last name DiPietro in the first round? Inquiring minds want to know, but I’d recommend the New York Islanders take a pass just in the name of avoiding a repeat of some bad history for them.
*Taylor Hall sounds pretty bitter about the whole “Edmonton Oilers getting into the playoff without him” thing, doesn’t he?
*For something completely different: As mentioned above, it’s a milestone birthday for the Star Wars franchise hitting 40 years old today. Boy, this Boston Globe movie review was right on the money back in 1977.