Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins: Can the Caps Repeat NHL Playoffs History?
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The 1998 Boston Bruins finished the regular season with 91 points and entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. They were coached by the late Pat Burns and captained by Ray Bourque.
Their roster also included goalie Byron Dafoe, forwards Sergei Samsonov, Jason Allison and Dmitri Khristich, and defensemen Kyle McLaren and Don Sweeney. One interesting note about this Bruins roster was that it included two young, currently-active players—Joe Thornton and Hal Gill—at the beginning of long, successful careers in the NHL.
The 1998 Washington Capitals finished with 92 points and qualified for the playoffs as the No. 4 seed. Ron Wilson was their head coach, and their captain was Dale Hunter, who happens to be their current head coach. Olaf Kolzig was the starting goalie, and the team was led by forwards Peter Bondra, Adam Oates and Joe Juneau, and defensemen Sergei Gonchar, Calle Johansson and Phil Housley.
The Capitals are the only team in NHL history to have three different players reach the 1,000-point milestone in the same season. Dale Hunter, Phil Housley and Adam Oates all accomplished the feat during the 1997-98 season.
The recent history of the Capitals and Bruins was intertwined even before the playoff series began. Just over a year earlier, the two teams were involved in a blockbuster trade. The Capitals sent former Vezina Trophy winner Jim Carey, along with forwards Jason Allison and Anson Carter, to the Bruins in exchange for center Adam Oates, goalie Bill Ranford and forward Rick Tocchet. In addition, Dmitri Khristich and Byron Dafoe were both former Capitals, and Joe Juneau began his career in Boston.
Once the series began, it was an interesting one. The series went six games, but three of the games went into overtime, and two went into double overtime. The two teams split the double-overtime victories in Games 2 and 3.
The three other games in the series were not competitive, however. Washington won 3-1 in Game 1 and 3-0 in Game 4. Boston avoided elimination in Game 5 with a 4-0 shutout. The series ended on a dramatic note when the Capitals eliminated the Bruins with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 6 in Boston.
Sergei Gonchar was the hero for the Caps with four goals in the series, including two in the crucial Game 3 victory. Adam Oates tormented his former team with three goals and three assists, and scored twice in the series-clinching game.
What is your favorite playoff memory of the 1998 Washington Capitals?
In their upcoming series against the Bruins, I hope the 2012 Capitals play like the 1998 Capitals.
I also hope the 2012 Capitals advance at least as far in the NHL Playoffs as the 1998 Capitals
Do you remember how far the 1998 Washington Capitals advanced in the NHL Playoffs?
If you do remember, don't say a word.
I don't plan to either.
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