WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Washington Capitals will enter their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with the Bruins as heavy underdogs, and if their plans include getting under the collective skins of the defending Stanley Cup champions to pull off a big upset, the Bruins will be ready, according to winger Milan Lucic.
One of the keys to the Bruins' win over the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals last year was ignoring the Canucks’ attempts to get Boston players into the penalty box and try to use their potent power play to win. From Alexander Burrows biting Patrice Bergeron in a scrum to after-the-whistle verbal and physical shots, Vancouver clearly targeted the Bruins’ emotions and tempers. And while the Bruins may have fallen prey at first, they learned quickly to reverse the strategy and use it to their advantage.
“It would’ve been easy to lose your cool and go out of your way to punch someone in the face or take a slashing penalty ... or bite them,” Lucic said with a laugh. “But we spun it in a positive manner and we took something that fired us up and used it in a positive manner where it got us going as a team and playing even harder. If push comes to shove like that again, hopefully we can react the same way.”
With Washington having numerous offensive weapons that can burn the Bruins on a power play, Lucic said the Bruins will be ready when it comes to staying disciplined.
“That could be a make-or-break in a playoff series; getting under a team’s skin or letting them get under your skin and being frustrated so they get on power play,” Lucic said. “I think what we learned last year is that we didn’t let anyone get under our skin or get frustrated to the point we lost our composure. Obviously [Washington] has a great power play with a lot of guys who can do a lot of damage.”
Capitals head coach Dale Hunter was known to be an agitator during his playing days, and while his work ethic seems to be rubbing off on his players, the agitating style he played with hasn’t, according to Lucic. But he won’t be surprised if that changes in the playoffs.
“Yeah, that’s how he played, and they’re an in-your-face type of team and they do like to play physical,” Lucic said. “They’re definitely not going to back down, but as I recall from this season there wasn’t much chirping going on or after-the-whistle spears or stuff like that, so we’ll see. I’m sure they’ll get in our face and it might get nasty or might not, but it all depends on how the series goes.”
If the Capitals do go the way of the Canucks and try to lure the Bruins into the sin-bin, Lucic won’t mind and looks forward to the challenge.
“It could definitely get the blood boiling and that could definitely make this a fun series to be a part of,” Lucic said. “They're a team that’s not going to be pushed around and they’re going to come at us as hard as we come at them, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”