Keith Jones was drafted by the Capitals and played parts of five seasons in Washington. Now retired and an NBC Sports analyst, Jones is not giving his old team much of a shot at upsetting the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the first round.
“I think the Capitals, they’re in trouble in this series. I think the Boston Bruins are going to have a relatively easy time with the Capitals,” Jones said on a conference call Monday. “It’s one series in the East that really stands out to me as being a short series with the Bruins ending up moving on.”
Jones singled out two particular areas of concern: goaltending and the matchup between Caps left wing Alex Ovechkin and Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara.
In goal, the Caps are going with 22-year-old Braden Holtby, who on Thursday is expected to start his first career Stanley Cup Playoff game in Game 1. The Bruins feature reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas.
“The key to that series will be the goaltending,” Jones said. “I have to give a huge edge to Tim Thomas, obviously based upon what he did last season and winning the Stanley Cup. I just think it’s going to be too much for the Capitals to handle.”
Analyst Pierre McGuire termed Ovechkin vs. Chara a “titanic battle” and expects this to be a “hard, nasty, physical series.”
Jones does not see it that way.
“I think Chara vs. Ovechkin, I think Chara will win out in that battle,” he said. “I think Ovechkin has too much one-on-one in his game and he’s going to end up one-on-one with Chara an awful lot.”
The Caps beat the Bruins three out of four times in the regular season, though one was in a shootout. Dennis Wideman and Brooks Laich brushed off that success, as did Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli.
“We’re facing a pretty formidable foe to start. We haven’t matched up well against Washington,” Chiarelli said on a conference call Sunday. “We kind of caught them when we were in a bit of a downswing each time it seems. It’s going to be a good test to start.”