2012 NHL Playoffs: Capitals vs. Bruins Series Defines Stanley Cup Competition

Michael PrunkaCorrespondent IApril 26, 2012

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 25:  The Washington Capitals celebrate the overtime win after Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 25, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins played the most competitive series in NHL playoff history. All seven games were decided by one goal and four of those games required overtime. The end of Game 7 saw Joel Ward net the overtime game-winner to send the Capitals forward in the playoffs.

Just over two-and-a-half minutes into overtime, the Bruins went for a line change. Pouliot’s clearing attempt ended up being stopped by Mike Knuble, giving him and Ward a two-on-one breakaway. Tim Thomas saved Knuble’s backhand shot, but was unable to stop Ward from netting the rebound.

The Capitals vs. Bruins series has defined Stanley Cup playoff action. Through seven games, these two teams played some of the most intense hockey ever seen.

Goals and wins were traded back and forth. At no point did either team lead the series by more than one win. In addition, the Caps were the only team of the two to ever lead by more than one goal. That only lasted for a few short minutes.

The animosity between the Caps and Bruins also grew as the series progressed. It all came to a head in Game 3, where the tensions between the two seemed to have reached a boiling point.

After Game 3, the Caps channeled their emotions into trying to lock down the Bruins. They played solid defense and made it a point to block plenty of shots.

The Bruins chose to channel their emotions into the physicality for which they’re known. They hit hard and often. Even then, the series wasn’t marred by the dirty hits and inordinate amount of unnecessary penalties that characterized the Penguins-Flyers series.

From start to finish, the series was a roller coaster ride. Fans were on the edge of their seats. Not just Caps and Bruins fans, but hockey fans of all kinds. The two teams were playing so evenly that, come overtime in Game 7, the suspense was almost unbearable.

Caps fans all over celebrated winning a hard-fought series, while Bruins fans were left to wonder what could have been. No matter what team you were rooting for, though, every hockey fan has to respect both the Caps and Bruins for this exceptionally competitive series.

Without a doubt, this first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs has been exciting. Rivalries reached new heights as blood boiled and upsets seem to be the latest craze. All things considered, though, nothing defines the race to the Stanley Cup more than the intensely competitive series we saw from the Capitals and Bruins.