BOSTON – Offence was the overriding theme at practice Friday, a day after the Bruins outlasted the Washington Capitals, 1-0, in Game 1 of their first round, Eastern Conference series.
After all, both goaltenders—Boston’s Tim Thomas and Washington’s Braden Holtby—stood out in the opener, and the teams combined for 37 blocked shots, as well. It was a defensive standoff, for sure, until Chris Kelly’s goal in overtime gave Boston its third straight playoff win, dating back to last year’s Stanley Cup Finals.
But even the victors saw room for improvement.
“You’re going to hear the losing team say ‘whether we lose in overtime, or 10 to nothing, it’s still a loss.’ So we say the same thing about a win,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “A win’s a win. I thought we did a pretty good job defensively, didn’t give them a ton of scoring chances.”
Game 2 is Saturday.
“Obviously, we’d like to maybe be a little bit better offensively and create a little bit more, which I thought we did early in the game,” Julien said. “But I thought it kind of faded away so that’s the area that we hope to maybe improve a little bit more on and that will maybe be the offensive part—the goal scoring and being able to finish on our chances.”
Part of the Bruins’ defensive plan was to limit Washington forward Alex Ovechkin’s chances. And so far, so good. Ovechkin was held to just one shot while mostly matched up against the Bruins’ top defensive pair of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, and the forward line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin.
The Capitals, of course, could use more production from Ovechkin, but also know they have to support him better.
“There’s things we can do,” said Brooks Laich, who centres a line with Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer. “We know that he’s going to be keyed on, especially (by) Chara. He’s going to try to come across the ice a lot and pinch Alex. We can try to talk to him, we can try and get our bodies in the way. But when we get the puck, we have to skate.”
Washington coach Dale Hunter could juggle his lines, too, if needed. However, Hunter sounds like he’s confident his superstar can win the battles in Game 2.
“Even strength, it was an even battle both ways through the whole thing,” Hunter said. “Until an overtime goal, it was pretty much even at even strength. Power-play time, they did have some more scoring chances because they had more power-play time.
“But as far as even strength, it was pretty even out there.”
The Bruins could’ve taken a major hit had centre David Krejci been injured by a falling pane of glass during the celebration after Game 1. Although Krejci didn’t practice Friday, he said he was just sore. Julien expects Krejci to play Saturday.
Having his full stable of forwards at his disposal will make it easier for Julien to make the necessary tweaks before Game 2.
“Now it’s up to us to make sure we get better as a team as the series goes along. Both teams are going to make adjustments,” Julien said. ‘When you look at the game tape, you see things you want to exploit from the other team.
“So, we have to be ready for their adjustments and hopefully we’ll make adjustments that will make us better as well.”
The series shifts to Washington for Game 3 on Monday.