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.