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Caps a hit in Boston

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Loose Pucks,Sports,Brian McNally

Caps 2, Bruins 1 (2 OT)

Conventional wisdom often gets tossed out the window during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Coming into this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, most outside observers would have pegged the Boston Bruins as the team that would impose its physical will on the Capitals. It’s that ability to brutalize opponents – along with, of course, legitimate top-end skill and a Hall-of-Fame goalie in Tim Thomas – that fueled last spring’s championship run.

But someone apparently forgot to mention that the Caps spent the summer adding players who can at least hang in a series like this – tight checking, hard hitting, few odd-man rushes: Troy Brouwer, who scored on Saturday; Joel Ward, who has had two strong games; Jay Beagle, who found space in front of Thomas in overtime and forced a spectacular save. We already know Alex Ovechkin thrives in physical play. Even players like Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson and, yes, rookie goalie Braden Holtby, have stood up to Boston. Washington’s players were almost offended by the notion that the Bruins would be the more physical team.

“It's been one game. I wouldn't say we've been beat up at all,” Brouwer said before Game 2. “We've thrown some pretty good hits. Every team's going to have a little bit of a hit advantage in their home building, and it should be that way. I think we're playing very physical against them. It's going to continue that way for the whole series.”

After the game, when he had scored a goal and helped the Caps outhit the Bruins in their own building 41 to 36, Brouwer again brought up that curious lack of respect. Not that anyone should have picked Washington to win the series given their regular-season struggles. But Boston probably wasn’t going to sweep them out of the playoffs, either. And the Caps seem to have a chip on their shoulder about it.   

“Yeah. I don't know why anyone thought we wouldn't be able to,” Brouwer said. “We played so well against them in the regular season. Every team's got another gear in the playoffs. But we've played great defensively in the last two games; we were patient. We kept pucks in good areas. We didn't turn pucks over.”

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