Am I the only one that feels like we were just here? Am I the only one that still feels like the boys look weird, because I'm used to them sporting their playoff beards? Well fret not folks, it's time for some playoff hockey.
The season started blah, went OH MY GOD HOW ARE THEY PLAYING THIS WELL, went south fast and hard and brutal, and finally started looking up again.
The boys have rounded into form and are set for a push into the playoffs for another run at Lord Stanley...there's no better time of year. Although fans of the Habs would beg to differ. I can hear their arguments already..."Yeah, but who has the most Cups?" Weak. Have fun swinging those golf clubs.
Several teams were in a dog fight for the final few spots in the Eastern Conference and I'm sure I'm not the only one that is surprised our boys will be facing the Caps. We were all mentally preparing ourselves for the Senators. Alas, it's the Caps. Here are my thoughts, in no particular order.
-The Bruins had problems with Washington this year. They couldn't seem to string together good efforts against them for some reason. The thing I love about the playoffs is that the regular season means exactly JACK....SQUAT. Throw everything out the window because it's not worth a goddamn thing.
-Stamkos got his 60. Malkin got his 50. The Bruins had multiple players score 20 plus goals. It's this depth that had them winning the Cup last year and I have no doubt it will be a boon once again. Patty/Seguin/Marchand have been their normal reliable, point-producing selves. Lucic/Krejci/Whoever have been up and down, but Krejci turns into a beast in the playoffs and I'm hoping that Looch won't fall asleep like he did last year. Kelly/Rolston/Pouliot have had some crazy chemistry in the last few weeks.
-Washington's goaltending has been struggling all year and it looks like they are facing issues for the playoffs. The Bruins got through what was one of the most jacked up scenarios in Boston goaltending history that I can remember (Timmy obviously not on his game, Tuukka hurt, Turco coming in, Khudobin being injured and then playing). Timmy appears to be back, letting up only a handful of goals over the stretch. Just like last year, as goes Timmy, so go the Bruins. He will be playing every game unless something happens.
-Finally, the key point to the series: Ovechkin. He had a mere-mortal year, not even breaking the 40 goal mark. This would be nothing to scoff at for any player, but he's set the bar high over his career. The Caps have yet to have playoff success with Ovechkin on-board and it's just about to the point of San Jose and Joe Thorton. The guy (normally) plays like a god in the regular season and then pulls a Houdini and dis-a-fucking-ppears in the playoffs (just like the Sedin sisters did in the Cup final). Ovechkin is one more bad postseason away from being officially labeled as one of these players until he wins a Cup. This could go either way. He could come out like a raped ape and tear things up or be frustrated by the two studs that wear #33 and 44 on the Bruins blueline. Ovechkin has had difficulty producing in the playoffs and he's never faced off against these two guys. They turned into absolute gods last year (Seidenberg especially, because I don't think anyone had any idea he could play like that) and I'm thinking they are going to do the same this year. Chara is his normal dominating self and I'm curious how Ovechkin will stand up to the pounding he's about to take. There remains no team in the league that can stand toe to toe with the Bruins and the playoffs lend itself to this time of toughness. Fights will be down (but when they do happen are generally spectacular) but the physicality will be that much higher. Ovechkin is one of those guys that likes to try and throw his body around...but how will he respond when he is ground into the boards on each and every shift by every player on the ice? If nothing else, he'll take stupid penalties (we've seen this in the past) and the Bruins will be on the PP...which may not be a good thing, now that I think about it.
Regardless, it's time for playoff hockey. The boys that are close (McQuaid, Boychuk) will get some extra time and I'm sure we'll see them at some point.
And on a side note, the Pens/Flyers series is going to be some nasty hockey. Ol' Captain Whiny Pants (Crosby) better keep his oft-concussed head up.
LET'S GO YOU BASTARDS, IT'S TIME TO RESUME THE MARCH!!!