Boston Bruins Host Washington Capitals For Game 7
By: Willie Bee
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
It's do or die, one game to see who moves on, time to leave it all on the ice, walk the walk if you're going to talk the talk.
Welcome to the Don Best Sports cliché festival, otherwise known as Game 7 of the first-round NHL playoff series between the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins. Action from Beantown's TD Garden gets underway Wednesday a few minutes past 7:30 p.m. (ET) with several broadcast outlets providing the telecast in various markets.
Opening numbers listed the Bruins as -200 chalk with a 5-goal total priced to the 'over,' and there's been very little if any movement at all.
The chalk that Boston backers are being asked to lay was mentioned in Monday's daily hockey report at Don Best, and Brian Blessing left little doubt what he thought of the price.
"I just think this number's too inflated," Blessing noted in his first glance at Wednesday's game. "I know home-ice (is big)...but franchise history for these teams, 16 playoff games, eight and eight. Three overtime games in this series, all six games have been decided by one goal, and you want me to lay two bucks with Boston?"
Toss in the fact the defending Stanley Cup champs are 1/2 favorites after losing twice on their own rink and having to force a deciding game with a 4-3 overtime victory Sunday in Washington. Caps captain Alex Ovechkin's second goal of the series with about five minutes left in regulation led to extended play, and Tyler Seguin's first playoff goal of the series provided the game-winner just a little more than three minutes into OT.
As close as the series has been, it's one that might already be over if not for each team's penalty kill play. Or is it more a case of power play impotence? Regardless, Washington shut down Boston's power play 12 straight times through the first four games, and the Caps are 18-for-20 denying the B's in the series. Boston has stopped the Capitals on 15 of their 18 power play opportunities, including all four in Game 6.
The ultimate hero for the conference quarterfinal matchup will be decided in Game 7, but if an MVP vote was taken for the first six contests, the award might just go to Washington goalie Braden Holtby. The 22-year-old started just six games during the regular season, and is about to get his seventh start of this playoff series on Wednesday. He certainly showed no 'deer in the headlights' condition when he made his playoff debut in Game 1, standing toe-to-toe with Boston veteran Tim Thomas for the first 60 minutes before the game went to overtime in a scoreless deadlock.
Holtby and Thomas have each allowed the same number of goals (14), with Holtby stonewalling 36 more shots (216-180). He was pressed into the starting role when both Michal Neuvirth (lower body) and Tomas Vokoun (groin) suffered injuries near the end of the regular season. Neuvirth has since returned and Vokoun could be ready if Washington advances to the next round, but given Holtby's play so far, there's no reason for Caps coach Dale Hunter to make a change.
Boston is dealing with a couple of injuries to defensemen Joe Corvo and Adam McQuaid. Corvo played the first five games before being held out of Sunday's contest with a knee injury he suffered in Game 5. He's officially listed as probable for Wednesday.
McQuaid has been out since the final regular season battle between these two squads in Boston on March 29. Driven into the boards by Washington's Jason Chimera, McQuaid suffered a left-eye injury and there's no date for his return.