To preview tonight's Game 1 between the Bruins and Capitals, we play a game of 2-on-2 with ESPN Boston's James Murphy and Joe McDonald:
1.) Tim Thomas won the Vezina, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup last season. Thomas has always been one to thrive off proving people wrong. Does he have anything to prove and if so can he?
Murphy: Thomas did not have the Vezina Trophy type and historic season he had in 2010-11, when he was simply out of this world, but he was still very solid, winning 35 games again and playing well down the stretch. Still, many have questioned whether he can duplicate his playoff performance of a year ago, so there in itself is his motivation to prove them wrong. That being said, I don’t think anyone could replicate such an amazing performance two straight seasons, but I do think he can be good enough to lead the Bruins back to at least the finals, if not win the Cup again.
McDonald: Thomas will always have something to prove. It’s been that mentality that has helped him achieve all this success. He turns 38 on Sunday and he’ll be facing a 22-year-old Braden Holtby for the Washington Capitals. I think Thomas is the kind of guy who wakes up every day with a different goal. Now that the puck is ready to drop on the Stanley Cup playoffs, his goal is to repeat as a champion and take another step in solidifying his place in hockey history as one of the best goaltenders of his generation.
2.) Game 1 can always be an opportunity for the underdog and/or road team to catch the favorite and/or home team napping? Can the Caps do that? Why or why not?
Murphy: Based on what we saw in two of the Game 1’s on Wednesday, where the eighth-seeded Kings beat the top-seeded Canucks out west and the fifth-seeded Flyers beat the fourth-seeded Flyers in the east, that can happen and the Capitals have just as good a chance as the Flyers or Kings to pull that off. The Bruins have a tendency to wait for something to wake them up and get them into their game and rhythm. Hopefully for their sake they find that something early, because this is a game I can see the Capitals stealing.
McDonald: The Bruins seemed relaxed and focused after the brief morning skate Thursday at TD Garden. Forward Chris Kelly said the players remember how the Montreal Canadiens came out and won Games 1 and 2 of the quarterfinals last year, and that Boston does not want a repeat performance. Especially facing a young goaltender in Braden Holtby, the Bruins need to pummel him early and often. I still think the Bruins will win this series in five.