Type to search

  • Takeaways: Bruins experience drop-off against desperate Capitals

    Tim Rosenthal April 15, 2024

    Ideally, the Boston Bruins should avoid a first-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. And judging from Monday’s outing against a desperate Washington Capitals squad, the Bruins lived up to that development.

    Jeremy Swayman bounced back in likely his final start of the regular season. But the turnover-prone Bruins were in coasting mode from the get-go. 

    The opportunistic Capitals couldn’t get many pucks past Swayman, but they effectively generated havoc in front of the Boston net throughout Monday’s tilt.

    The Caps outshot the Bruins 25-16 and pounced on John Carlson’s blast from the point 12 minutes in.


    The Bruins showcased some pushback in the third, outshooting the Caps 8-3. But they came up short in their comeback bid and lost Brandon Carlo to injury early in the final 20. 

    Nic Dowd secured Washington’s 2-0 victory with a late empty netter. Here’s what we learned from Boston’s final road tilt of the regular season.

    The Bruins experienced a drop-off against a desperate opponent.

    For the last month, the Bruins have faced their share of teams fighting for playoff positioning. Initially, they struggled to match any desperate squad, but they began bucking that trend in late March following an emotional win over the Panthers.

    The Bruins prevented the Penguins from completing a come-from-behind win on Saturday to dent Pittsburgh’s path for the East’s final wild-card spot.

    Charlie Coyle and company entered a similar scenario in their second game in three nights. The Caps didn’t absolutely need a victory. Still, a win would’ve significantly increased their odds of securing the East’s eighth seed ahead of their final matchup of the year against the Flyers, who sit two points behind Washington.

    The Bruins had some divisional-clinching implications in play. But the Caps had much higher stakes.

    The disparity played out to a T. Washington won almost every puck battle, crashed Swayman’s crease with relative ease, and kept Boston’s offensive attack in check.

    “They looked like a team that was fighting for a playoff spot, and we looked like a team that was already in the playoffs,” Coyle told reporters after the Bruins posted a season-low in shots on goal. “That wasn’t good. We didn’t have the sense of urgency that we usually had. Winning loose pucks, winning our battles…we didn’t do enough of that.”


    Swayman kept his team afloat during a likely final pre-playoff tuneup.

    Of all the items the Bruins wanted to accomplish Monday night, getting Swayman back on track would’ve likely appeared near the top of the list.

    Indeed, Swayman faced heavy traffic during his 44th appearance of the season. He lost track of one puck on Carlson’s one-timer from the point. But nearly a week removed from a shaky outing against the Hurricanes, Swayman didn’t waver.

    As the Bruins searched for their stride, Swayman remained assertive with his post-to-post movements. The former UMaine netminder faced 10 high-danger scoring chances during 5v5 play and stopped all but one of the 24 shots he faced against a Washington team fighting for their playoff lives.

    “I think it was important that we had a game like tonight this late in the season,” Swayman told the media. “That’s what we’re going to see on Saturday [to start the playoffs]. We have to match the intensity, and we didn’t get it done tonight.”

    Given Linus Ullmark’s recent track record, Swayman will likely watch the beginning of Boston’s first-round matchup from the bench. Yet, with Jim Montgomery repeatedly expressing his intention to continue with the established rotation, Swayman could see the net again by Game 2 as the Bruins begin their postseason with another difficult matchup.

    The Bruins will either face the Lightning or Leafs in Round 1.

    Entering Monday, the Bruins faced significant odds of facing the bottom wild card team. To accomplish that feat, they would’ve needed wins over the Caps and Senators, along with a Rangers regulation loss to Ottawa and a Carolina setback (regulation or overtime) in Columbus.

    They’ll still need some help to avoid the Bolts. But the Bruins also opened a path for a first round matchup with the Maple Leafs following Monday’s loss.

    A victory over the Sens or a Panthers regulation loss to the Maple Leafs results in the Bruins facing the Lightning in Round 1.

    A Panthers win, and any Bruins loss results in a first-round matchup with Toronto. But with the Panthers holding the tiebreaker with more regulation victories, Florida doesn’t absolutely need a win to claim the top spot in the Atlantic. The reigning Eastern Conference champs can claim first place in the division and confirm another Boston-Toronto series with an overtime appearance and a Bruins regulation loss to Ottawa.

    Facebook Comments
    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


    You Might also Like

    Leave a Comment