April 16, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly (23) watches as a shot from Bruins right wing Rich Peverley (not pictured) beats Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) for a goal during the second period of game three of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
If you were willing to describe the first two games the Caps and Bruins played as coin flips, then this one wasn’t much different. But it was the Bruins who were a touch more opportunistic, taking advantage of defensive zone breakdowns, amping up the physicality, and running up four goals en route to a 4-3 win and a 2-1 series advantage. It’s a loss the Caps will lament if they don’t pull this series out, having been up 2-1 halfway through the game before getting sloppy and allowing the Bruins to regain their stride.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Although the Young Guns came to play, it wasn’t enough. Backstrom set up (and denied) chances, Ovi and Semin notched goals, Mike Green played his heart out. You’d think that would be enough to notch a "W", but in the end, the lower-tier players on the Caps didn’t step up and Braden Holtby just didn’t have the same magic as he did this past weekend. Victory Bruins.
- Looking for someone to blame? How about the Wideman-Schultz pairing, collectively -4 in 25 minutes of play. Teams have to be able to rely on their bottom players to take their limited minutes and make the most of it. Tonight, Dennis Wideman (-2) and Jeff Schultz (-2) did not give the Caps that. Neither did Matthieu Perreault, Keith Aucoin or Joel Ward, the latter two getting benched in the third. On the flip side, Boston’s bottom six produced tonight. That’s the difference.
- On Holtby’s shaky glove tonight...he seemed to be fighting the puck too much. Here’s a theory as to why: Holtby is so dialed in that his mind is moving faster than his body and he could be a victim of too much focus. Either way, he needs to forget about it and get ready for Thursday, because ths team really needs him to be solid if they’re going to revert to their defensively porous ways.
- Steady effort by Tim Thomas, not playing a great game, but doing enough to keep his team in the game. The Caps didn’t generate enough traffic in front of him tonight, and when they did he steered the puck to the corner.
- Can’t say that Caps fans don’t have a right to complain about the refereeing. Jason Chimera gets cross-checked on the breakout, no penalty. Nick Backstrom cross-checks Brad Marchand, penalty. The consistency was lacking all night. John Carlson gets his stick broken in half as he is almost off on a breakaway. All we ask of the refs is that they STAY CONSISTENT. They didn't do that tonight.
- Hats off to Ovi for responding with a beautiful goal 13 seconds after Boston tied it up. That could have been a game-changer. Only if…
- A quick look at the shot count shows the Caps winning the battle 32-29. CORSI was pretty much even (the Bruins outshot the Caps by one). This was a close game, and the Caps had their chances to win. They just didn’t finish like the Bruins did.
- Not sure what to make of this, but Alex Semin was merciless on the backcheck. Maybe he thought he was Pavel Datsyuk, or maybe George Mcphee told him "no backcheck, no paycheck", but whatever it is please don’t make it stop! If there was a silver lining to tonight, that may be it.
- Chara had himself a nice outing, racking up a goal and two assists and only skating roughly ten minutes against Ovechkin. Sounds like the Caps were better off with Chara matched up every shift against Ovi.
- Early in the game the Bruins attempted to be extra physical with the Caps. At some point they stopped and then, in the third period, they ramped it back up, with Milan Lucic giving a course on how to take advantage of weak-willed refs by being extra dirty. But, folks, that’s hockey, and although he put his team down a penalty, it got Boston a coveted 4-on-4 which they cashed in for the GWG.
- Shout out to Roman Hamrlik, for logging 22+ minutes of relatively mistake-free hockey, notching an assist and going +1. As the other half of Hunter’s top pair (with Mike Green), he is definitely earning his money this playoff season.
After three games, the Caps have shown that they’re not going to lie down in the series. They’ve played three coin flip games and lost two of them. But it’s time to play with an added sense of desperation now that they’re down. There are no excuses: everyone is healthy and Holtby has shown that he can provide more-than-adequate goaltending. That said, the Caps shouldn’t have to rely on perfect games from Holtby to have a chance to win. It’s time for the entire team to step up and send this back to Boston 2-2, because the alternative is a hole that may just be too deep to climb out of.