Starting off the 2021 NHL Playoffs with a bang, the Washington Capitals (36-15-5) and Boston Bruins (33-16-7) are perennial playoff contenders capable of deep runs. This year, they’ll be the first two teams in postseason action, dropping the puck for Game 1 of the best-of-seven series at 7:15 P.M. Eastern.
In this Capitals vs Bruins series preview, I’ll break down all you need to know before the Capitals and Bruins take the ice, along with a winning pick for who will advance in the 2021 NHL Playoffs.
Capitals vs Bruins Series Schedule
GAME ONE: Saturday, May 15 @ 7:15 P.M.
GAME TWO: Monday, May 17 @ 7:30 P.M.
GAME THREE: Friday, May 21 @ 6:30 P.M.
GAME FOUR: Sunday, May 23 @ 6:30 P.M.
GAME FIVE*: Tuesday, May 25 @ TBD
GAME SIX*: Thursday, May 27 @ TBD
GAME SEVEN*: Saturday, May 29 @ TBD
* = if needed, All Times Eastern
Capitals vs Bruins Regular Season Results
January 30: Washington 4, Boston 3 (OT)
February 1: Boston 5, Washington 3
March 3: Washington 2, Boston 1 (SO)
March 5: Boston 5, Washington 1
April 8: Boston 4, Washington 2
April 11: Washington 8, Boston 1
April 18: Boston 6, Washington 3
May 11: Washington 2, Boston 1
Vitek Vanecek: 21-10-4, 2.69 GAA, .908 save percentage, two shutouts
Ilya Samsonov: 13-4-1, 2.69 GAA, .902 save percentage, two shutouts
Tuukka Rask: 15-5-2, 2.28 GAA, .913 save percentage, two shutouts
Jeremy Swayman: 7-3-0, 1.50 GAA, .945 save percentage, two shutouts
Jaroslav Halak: 9-6-4, 2.53 GAA, .905 save percentage, two shutouts
T.J. Oshie – lower body, expected return: Saturday, May 15
Ilya Samsonov – COVID-19 protocol, expected return: Saturday, May 15
Evgeny Kuznetsov – COVID-19 protocol, expected return: Saturday, May 15
Michal Kempny – Achilles, expected return: Saturday, May 15
Jakub Zboril – upper body, expected return: Saturday, May 15
Ondrej Kase – upper body, expected return: Saturday, May 15
Charlie Coyle – upper body, expected return: Saturday, May 15
John Moore – hip surgery, expected return: September 2021
Special Teams Stats
Power Play: 24.8% (38/153), third in NHL; eight shorthanded goals against (most in NHL)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (136/162), fifth in NHL; two shorthanded goals
Power Play: 21.9% (35/160), 10th in NHL; six shorthanded goals against (tied for fourth-most)
Penalty Kill: 86.0% (153/178), second in NHL; nine shorthanded goals (tied for most)
Capitals vs Bruins Key Storylines
Two of the more physical teams in the league, Boston averages 24.5 hits per game while Washington averages 23.2. Both of those numbers should increase with the playoff’s dialed-up intensity.
Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo is finally healthy after missing time with a concussion, then an oblique injury. He suffered the concussion following a dangerous hit from Washington’s Tom Wilson. Wilson was not penalized on the play during the game but he was suspended for seven games following a hearing with the Department of Player Safety.
Wilson will be under intense scrutiny throughout the playoffs, especially following his actions against the New York Rangers a few weeks ago, for which he was fined $5,000 (the maximum allowable amount under the CBA) which caused a significant public outcry and a statement from the Rangers that George Parros (head of DOPS) is unfit for his job.
Two trade deadline acquisitions could have a significant impact on this series. Boston added winger Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres. Since landing with the Bruins, Hall has eight goals and six assists in 16 games. On the other side, Washington sent a haul to Detroit to add winger Anthony Mantha. Mantha scored a goal in each of his first four games with the Caps but has not scored a goal since then (four goals, four assists in 14 games with Washington).
While not listed on the injury report, Alex Ovechkin has missed time with a lower body injury in recent weeks. He returned for the regular season finale against Boston but may be at less than 100%.
Capitals vs Bruins Betting Pick
This series is one of the most exciting in the first round. There are sure to be fireworks sparking from the teams’ physical playstyles. Both Washington and Boston can light up the scoreboard, but they also play sound defensively and match up well against each other.
However, I think the Bruins come out on top. Boston is getting healthy at the right time and the Capitals still have significant injury concerns. I also think Boston has a slight advantage defensively and will only get better with Carlo back in the lineup.
Rookie goaltender Vitek Vanecek has carried the Caps this season, but postseason jitters could be a factor. I think the series goes the distance, but Boston comes out on top.
SERIES WINNER: Boston Bruins in seven games.
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