March 29, 2012; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Washington Capitals center Brooks Laich (21) celebrates a goal in front of Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas (30) during the third period at TD Banknorth Garden. Washington won 3-2 in a shoot-out. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
The Washington Capitals won the regular season series against the Boston Bruins, but injuries to their top two goalies could submarine their hopes for a playoff upset.
The Boston Bruins' attempt to become the first team since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions begins with an Eastern Conference Quarterfinal match-up with the Washington Capitals. It gets underway at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.
No. 7 Washington Capitals at No. 2 Boston Bruins
7:30 p.m. ET Thursday -- Game 1, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals | Series tied, 0-0
National TV: NBC Sports Network, CBC, RDS2 | Local TV: CSN Washington, NESN
Boston had been preparing to face the Ottawa Senators, who appeared locked into the No. 7 seed until being overtaken by the Capitals in the final week of the regular season. The Capitals won three of four regular season meetings with the Bruins, but are unsure of who will be between the pipes when the puck drops Thursday night. Tomas Vokoun (groin) and Michal Neuvirth (lower body) are questionable for the series, which could be left up to Braden Holtby, a 22-year-old with just 21 games of NHL experience under his belt.
"Well we’ve done it before. We have no choice -- if the other guys aren’t ready to go, he’s playing," Capitals general manager George McPhee said about Holtby. "He can handle it. We’ve had other goalies do it that were the same age, or younger."
The key to the Bruins' Stanley Cup run last season was their goaltending and defense, two areas that took hits late in the season with backup goalie Tuukka Rask suffering a lower abdomen/groin strain and defenseman Johnny Boychuck spraining his left knee. Rask probably won't be ready to back up Tim Thomas, but Boychuck, who was +27 while averaging 20:37 of ice-time in a career-high 77 games this season, hopes to be ready for Thursday night.
"There weren’t really any limitations," Boychuk said. "I went on the ice a little bit yesterday and it was a little bit sore. I tried it out today with some tape and a nice knee brace. It felt better."
For more on the Bruins, visit Stanley Cup Of Chowder. For updates on the Capitals, check out Japers' Rink.