Well folks the time has come for the 2021 Washington Capitals playoff run!
It has been a less than normal regular season without fans in most arenas, but with the Caps finally letting limited fans in the arena as of recent it sure will boost the playoff experience as we slowly get back to normal.
Your Washington Capitals have drawn the pesky Boston Bruins in their first round 2021 playoff matchup. Overall based on how each team has played this season the Caps definitely got the short end of the stick because this will not be an easy series compared to normal first round foes such as the Flyers.
With the Bruins adding former MVP Taylor Hall at the trade deadline it sure has improved the Bruins overall skill on the offensive end of the ice, but he can be streaky. So lets hope he plays like he has been the last few seasons aka sucking!
One thing to look at that could benefit the Caps is that the Bruins haven’t really faced any strong competition these last couple weeks which included six games against Buffalo, two against Jersey, and two against the Rangers the bottom barrel of the league lets be honest. So going from facing lesser competition regularly to the high intensity that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs could require a quick adjustment period.
In the head to head this season against the B’s, the Bruins scored 25 goals and allowed 22 versus the Caps through seven games. The B’s scored three goals on the power play and two shortys, while the Caps scored nine power play goals against the Bruins. Obviously we are going to need the Caps to capitalize on any power play chance this series to pull away in the series plain and simple. With getting a fully healthy power play lineup back by Saturday things could be looking up for the Caps.
Some players watch out for specifically for the Caps are Anthony Mantha and Connor Sheary.
Since getting Mantha at the trade deadline he has netted eight points (four goals, four assists) in 13 games. We know Ovi and Backy are going to provide offensive scoring chances, but if Mantha can be a presence on offense it could really lean the series in the Caps favor, but he also has limited playoff experience so hopefully he can find that extra gear.
Then we have Connor Sheary who in my mind is the most underrated player on this Capital’s roster! Sheary had 14 goals and 8 assist on the season totaling 22 points, but it might not show up on the stat sheet but he is easily on the fastest guys we have on the roster and he also grinds in the corners and does a lot of little things that open things up for the other guys. Also with Sheary having plenty of playoff experience look for him to produce at a high level this playoffs.
As for the goalie matchup obviously we will be seeing Tuukka Rask for the Bruins who finished with a 15-5-2 record, 2.28 GAA, and .913 SV% but was injured mid way through the season so not sure if he is back to 100% yet.
As for the Caps tendy situation I believe if the Caps want to raise the Cup they are going to need Vitek Vanecek to put it into 4th gear and find that extra level in the playoffs. VV finished the season with a 20-10-4 record, 2.74 GAA, .907 SV%. VV has had his struggles this season against the B’s going 3-3 with a 3.19 GAA and .896 save percentage. Unlike Rask VV has ZERO playoff experience so this will really separate the men from the boys if VV can excel in the postseason. Ilya Samsonov will also be waiting in the wing baring a VV collapse (hopefully not). Sammy has had COVID issues all season so relying on him to carry the load if VV struggles or gets hurt will not be good for the Caps in my opinion.
Overall, the Caps goaltending will be the X-factor in the series if VV can play at a high level then I don’t see the Caps losing this series, but if he struggles and no one steps up then the Caps could be hitting the links faster than we think.
I have faith in VV stepping up and finding that playoff mentality similar to how Holtby excelled early in his postseason career.
Prediction Capitals in 6