NHL Playoffs 2012, Bruins vs. Capitals Preview: The Defense

BOSTON - OCTOBER 21: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals hits Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden on October 21 2010 in Boston Massachusetts. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

You know how this story goes. If the focus of the Bruins-Capitals Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series is going to be on Alexander Ovechkin and his attempt at redeeming himself and his team, then so, too, will the focus be on Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, who will likely be the pair charged with stopping him.

But here's the thing: if Dale Hunter holds true to his word and breaks up Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, it's going to make things tricky for Claude Julien and the best shutdown defensive pair in the playoffs.

Then again, Ovechkin proved this year that he's not much without Backstrom on his line, so maybe Julien should just stick to his plan.

Truly, as much as this series will be about Ovechkin vs. Chara, it will be about David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and friends vs. Karl Alzner. Not to mention Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot vs. Dennis Wideman and/or Mike Green.

Well, that, and the Bruins keeping Joe Corvo off the ice.

What Boston will do beyond Chara-Seidenberg (or if those two will even be paired together) is still up in the air. We don't know Adam McQuaid's status for certain - though in all likelihood, he'll be available for Game One tomorrow, but it does seem as if Johnny Boychuk is ready to go, and he could skate with Andrew Ference and make a formidable second pair if McQuaid isn't ready.

Which would leave Matt Mottau, Greg Zanon and Corvo for the third pairing. And sure, Bruins fans would like to see whatever didn't involve Corvo, but while Zanon could make a difference in the playoffs, he and Mottau haven't had enough time together to form the chemistry that you'd like out of your third defensive pairing.

That said, Zanon and McQuaid could brutalize anyone they came up against, and could definitely wear down an opposing second or third line on the regular.

While questions surround just what Boston will do past Chara and Seidenberg, there isn't much in the way of curiosity about what Washington will do, unless you're one of those who likes to salivate over the thought of anyone going against Mike Green and Dennis Wideman, skilled passers but worrisome skaters who shy away from the type of physical game that the Bruins like to play.

It's hard not to give a serious edge to the Bruins' blue line in this matchup, but that doesn't mean that stopping Ovechkin, Backstrom and Semin will be a walk in the park.

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