If the rest of the series is anything like the first game between the Bruins and the Capitals, its going to be a punishing, gritty playoff battle.
Dennis Seidenberg doled out a team-high six hits, and both Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara took turns chasing after a Russian tank named Alex Ovechkin, and sent as much punishment his way as possible in the 1-0 overtime win for Boston at TD Garden. Ovechkin fought back with a game-high seven hits of his own and that included an epic collision between Seidenberg and Seidenberg in front of the benches, but brutal physicality appears to be the strategy against the Russian scorer.
Yeah, thats what playoffs are all aboutcreating battles and enemies. The way Seidenberg and Zee Zdeno Chara played against that line tonight and Ovechkin especially was great for us, said Brad Marchand. Were going to need that if were going to keep up with them. Seidenberg battled all night long, made a few big hits and took a couple of hits and thats what we needed from him.
What was interesting is that it appears the Capitals welcome that bruising, grinding style of play favored by the Bruins, and that the entire playoff series appears that it will be a punishing fight for open space on the ice.
Not sure how that style of play suits the Capitals given their personnel, and it seems the team is caught between a rock and a hard place given Dale Hunters system and demeanor. Its like taking a team of World Class Olympic sprinters and forcing them into a grinding marathon-style distance race thats not going to be in their wheelhouse.
Claude Julien sounded like a coach that would gladly take Washington feeding right into their bread-and-butter style of play over a best-of-seven series.
It was nice that our guys did a good job against Ovechkin, but I also have to give him credit. He didnt back down. He played, and he played hard. He knew he was going to be checked all night, and that we were going to have people on him as soon as he got the puck. He didnt have as much space as Im sure hed like to have, but I thought he played a decent game despite that.
Youve got to remember, its two big, strong defensemen that he has to go through both Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara, and probably one of the best two-way centermen in the league in Patrice Bergeron. He was good, but our guys were obviously better tonight. We did a good job of minimizing that. Hes a big part of their offense, and we talked about the fact that they have more than just him. For the most part, I thought our guys did a great job defensively.
It will be interesting to see if the Capitals take a different tact at some point in the series and switch to more of a run-and-gun style that favors their elite offensive players and defenseman that shy away from heavy body contact. So far theyre embracing their identity crisis and straying away from what should be the team strengths, and it could become a very short series for the Caps if they dont figure who they are quickly.