The Bruins – or if you prefer, the big, bad Bruins – have a reputation for toughness. Their brand of hockey comes with physicality and snarl. They like to push teams around between whistles and get under opponents’ skin afterward.
While fighting isn’t really common in the playoffs, one doesn’t need to drop the gloves to be tough to play against and physically dominate a contest or series. Boston’s knack for such things precedes it, but the Capitals believe they can hold their own.
“I think we’re alright,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “I think we’ve got a lot of guys that can throw the body around, too. We’re not a team like them where we come out and always do that, but we do that when we need to — and we’re going to need to in this series.”
Alex Ovechkin, for one, typically thrives off physical play, and Coach Dale Hunter’s configuration of a top line that featured the star left wing alongside Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer gives the Capitals a combination with three big bodies all more than willing to finish their checks.
Hunter emphasized that he doesn’t want to see the Capitals take careless penalties, which include those of the retaliation variety. That plays into what Brouwer emphasized as the Capitals need to match the physical play without getting too wrapped up in it to the point that it causes a distraction.
“You could see how Vancouver got caught up in it in the [Stanley Cup final] last year,” Brouwer said. “That’s just the style of game they play, they try to bring you in and sometimes they can be successful at it. For us we’ve got some guys, they can hold their own. We’ll push back. Don’t think we’re going to lay down by any means.”
More on the Capitals:
— Can Holtby give a Cup-caliber performance?
— Poll: Capitals or Bruins?
— On Hockey: Caps have reason for optimism
— Twitter list of who to follow for the first round
— Complete first-round playoff schedule