The Capitals are the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they just got elite center Nicklas Backstrom back from a concussion. Backstrom missed many months recovering from the head injury, and the team's offense struggled without him.
Washington is a good team and Boston cannot be lazy or they could be upset in this series. Let's look at the five most important players for the Bruins in this battle versus the Capitals.
Nicholas Goss is a Boston Bruins Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and was the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals in Boston.
Bruins defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara will be given the challenge of successfully limiting Capitals star forward Alexander Ovechkin's effectiveness in this series.
It's a challenge he's eagerly awaiting.
Talking about playing the best competition, Chara said via CSNNE.com:
“It’s something that motivates me,” said Chara. “It’s something that . . . I enjoy competing against the best players. Obviously they have a few great players on their team. Sometimes the matchups are hard to get, especially on the road. But when you do get them, you want to make the best of them. Overall, I love to compete, I love to work hard against whoever I’m playing against.”
Chara is the most difficult defenseman to play against in the NHL because of his size, talent and his ability to use his long stick to his advantage.
If Chara can shut down Ovechkin and the rest of the Capitals' top line, then Washington will be quickly eliminated in this series.
Tyler Seguin developed nicely this season and led the Bruins in scoring with 67 points on 29 goals and 38 assists.
Unlike last year's playoffs, Seguin will be counted on to be a major part of Boston's offensive production throughout the postseason.
If he can score goals consistently in this series, the Bruins will be tough to beat. Seguin gives the Bruins another dimension when he's using his speed and playmaking talent effectively.
Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara were an elite shutdown defensive pairing in last year's playoffs, and the two will need to be dominant again if the Bruins are to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
Seidenberg's physical style of hockey and solid shot from the point really helps the Bruins at both ends of the ice.
The German blueliner will be asked to shut down the opposing team's best offensive players, and it's a mission he's fully capable of accomplishing.
Rich Peverley is one of the most underrated players on the Bruins and his offensive talents are so important to the team's success.
His speed and playmaking ability is very impressive, and the team really benefits from his versatility. He can excel on any of head coach Claude Julien's lines, whether he's placed on the top, second or third line.
Peverley's offense and responsible defensive play will be a key component of the Bruins' success against the Capitals.
The Bruins need star goaltender Tim Thomas to play well throughout the playoffs, and against a team with so many talented offensive players like the Capitals, Thomas' performance will be immensely important to the outcome of the series.
Thomas had another great season for Boston and comes into the playoffs with a 6-1-1 record since March 17.
If Thomas plays well in this series, the Capitals have no shot to upset the Bruins.