Well here we are, the day we've all been waiting for. Game 1 against Montreal in the first round of the playoffs. I always think its a good idea to set realistic expectations before embarking on something so important, so here is my personal take on the B's chances this post season.
Do the Bruins have what it takes to win a Cup? The answer is a definite yes. Goaltending: check. Defense: check. Scoring: check. Coaching: check. Depth at every position: check (except perhaps in goal). Intangibles: check.
The intangibles include being up to the challenge when other teams try to get under their skin, the ability to play in a hard-checking playoff style, the ability and depth to adjust to injuries, and the ability to come back from a deficit.
I saw some hockey "expert" say that he didn't think a team that was in eighth place last year could win the cup the next. I know where he's coming from because that's exactly the sort of thing I say about teams I don't follow closely. But I am in a different position, having seen nearly every game the Bruins have played for the last three seasons. It's obvious to me that this team has all the tools--in spades--to win the Cup. And if they don't win it will be a lost opportunity.
That said, to my expectations. The road to the Cup is paved with adversity, some of which can bring down even the greatest teams. Goaltenders can get hot. Teams can get unlucky. Key players can become injured. On that last note, I doubt if Fernandez, even playing well, could get the B's to the final. And losing Chara would also have a possibly cup-losing impact.
So given all that, I expect the Bruins to win in the first round. Anything less will be a terrible disappointment. A loss in the second round would be disappointing as well, but not devastatingly so. After that, my expectations will be met.
If the B's win the conference final, I will be a very happy fan! If they lose, then so be it. And if the B's win the cup... well, after watching this team grow over the last three years that would be indescribably amazing!
Notes on the Caps vs. Rangers
Things that impressed me: the ferocity of the Caps attack, particularly in the 1st. Ovechkin, the one man team. The goaltending of Lundqvist.
But I thought both teams showed some weak spots. Neither showed particularly good defense. The Rangers PK did Ok, but did not play very well. The Caps PP seemed entirely about getting the puck to Ovechkin, who seemingly played every shift of the game as well. A good defensive team will shut that down. But most of all, if the Caps don't find better goaltending there is no way they can go very far.
Anybody who saw that game last night and wonders why Thomas got the big bucks, perhaps you need not wonder any longer. The Rangers did not win that game. Theodore lost it.