BOSTON -- Like most people around the NHL, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk had a perception about the Capitals.
About how they were the Harlem Globetrotters of the NHL. A team opponents feared in the regular season but feasted on in the playoffs. A team with tremendous talent, but a little short in the heart department.
Not any more.
I thought they played extremely well as a team against us, Boychuk said in the quiet disappointment of the Bruins locker room. Before, they were run and gun and some players were, well, selfish. Now theyre playing as a team. It doesnt matter who scores the goals, as long as they win the game.
Wednesday nights game 7 was a perfect example. While Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin combined for zero points, Matt Hendricks and Joel Ward scored their first goals of the playoffs to lead the Capitals to their 2-1 overtime win and a berth in the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the second straight year.
They did so allowing just 14 goals in seven games. By comparison, the Capitals surrendered 16 goals in four straight losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of last years playoffs.
They were just sitting back and every time we made a mistake they tried to capitalize, Boychuk said. Its a totally different style of play than we were used to playing against them. We didnt underestimate them at all, theyre a good team. But you have to make sure you play well defensively against them.
The Bruins became the ninth Stanley Cup champion in the last 11 years to be ousted in the first round of the playoffs and he said that although the length and physical demands of last years playoff took their toll, he credited the Capitals resolve.
We could have easily gone the distance again, especially with the character and physical ability we have in this dressing room, Boychuck said. Its tough. When youre playing against the defending champs you want to knock them out and they did.