After Two Games, It's Hard Not to Wonder When We'll See the Real Capitals

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 14: Brooks Laich #21 of the Washington Capitals celebrates teammate Troy Brouwer's goal in the second period against the Boston Bruins in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 14, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

It wasn't that the chances weren't there for the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. It was just that the passes went a little too far, the shots a little too soft and the goaltending a little too good.

Braden Holtby was again the story of the day, stopping 43 of 44 Boston shots and letting in only one fluke that wouldn't have registered as a shot had it not barely snuck under the crossbar.

But at the game's end, it was Nicklas Backstrom with his arms raised in celebration as the Capitals erased Boston's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series lead and sent the series back to the nation's capital in a dead heat.

Holtby, who's done absolutely nothing special to hold Boston to two goals in 144 minutes and 14 seconds of hockey in the past 48 hours, hasn't had to - there's been a renaissance in his locker room, and suddenly once-offensive stalwarts like Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin are playing defense, and the Bruins don't seem to know what to do about it.

Clogging the neutral zone, stacking the blue line and pushing Boston to the outside has worked so far for the Caps, who took home-ice advantage from the Bruins with the win on Saturday, But that doesn't mean that there weren't glimpses of the old Capitals on Saturday afternoon at the Garden.

Particularly late in the game, when Boston started hitting a tired Washington team and put bodies on the net, it looked as if the Bruins could dominate not just the end of the game, but the series. And when Washington decided to shell up in the middle of the first overtime, Boston gained the attacking zone with ease, but they couldn't convert on any of their many resulting chances.

But that doesn't mean that we should expect the Bruins to change their game plan. They just need to do what worked in spurts in Game Two on a full-time basis. Both the Caps and the Bruins will be tired heading into Monday's Game Three, and they'll get an extra day off before Game Four.

At some point in the next couple of games, we'll start to see the real identities of both these teams come out. Boston has stuck to its hunches, playing physical hockey and wearing down Washington's talent. But they've been frustrated by Holtby, if not by their own inability to get bodies to the net and make the rookie work for his saves.

And there will be a 4-2 or 5-3 game in this series. It's bound to happen. Whichever team wins that one will feel much better about their chances, but as it stands right now, Thomas is the only one who's let a crooked number past him, and that's something that must do wonders for the confidence of Holtby.

Who'll crack first? Will the porous defense that Washington used to show rear its ugly head or will Boston's frustration prove their undoing?

Yeah, it sounds like a voice-over for a really bad movie. Let's just hope that's not what it turns out to be.

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