By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Everybody loves playoff hockey. The only thing better than playoff hockey is more playoff hockey. And the only thing better than more playoff hockey is EVEN MORE PLAYOFF HOCKEY.
Everyone knows this. And loving playoff hockey is certainly not a problem. Until ... it is.
And that's why we need to have a conversation. Because our beloved Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins, the Boys from Beantown and the skaters from our nation's capital, as they are both often called, they are pushing their love for playoff hockey to the absolute extreme. And we might need to start worrying about them.
The question needs to be asked: Are the Bruins and Capitals addicted to playoff overtime?
Based on their actions lately, it would be hard to say no.
The two teams are of course coming off a double-overtime thriller at TD Garden on Wednesday night, after Brad Marchand tied the game in the third period. The final 8:28 was not enough to decide a winner, nor was the first 20 minutes of overtime action. At long last, Craig Smith pounced on an abandoned puck behind the Washington net and beat Ilya Samsonov's skate to the post for the game-winner in the 86th minute of ice hockey in Game 3.
It was the third game of the series. All three went to overtime. Naturally, that means every game was decided by a single goal. The margin separating these two teams could not be any more thin. And that's not just tied to this week of play.
During this unique regular season, the Bruins and Capitals played each other eight times. With a 4-2-2 record, the Bruins earned 10 points in those games. The Capitals earned eight. Boston outscored Washington in those eight games by ... one goal. Despite a lopsided victory for both parties on the ledger, the final regular-season score went down at 26-25.
Add in the postseason, and the Bruins are now outscoring the Capitals 35-33.
And if we factor in the playoff history between the Bruins and Capitals, this whole thing gets even more preposterous.
As you may or may not remember, the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup defense was ended abruptly in the spring of 2012, when Joel Ward scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 in Boston in -- yup, you guessed it -- overtime.
"Was that, Mr. Sports Man, the lone overtime game of that playoff series?" you might be asking.
No, dear reader. It was not.
In fact, it was the fourth overtime game of that seven-game series. And every single one of those playoff games was decided by one single goal.
The Bruins won 1-0 in overtime of Game 1. The Caps came back with a 2-1 win in double-overtime in Game 2. Bruins 4-3 in Game 3. Capitals 2-1 in Game 4. Capitals 4-3 in Game 5. Facing elimination on the road, the Bruins won Game 6, 4-3 in overtime. In Game 7, Tyler Seguin scored to tie the game (he also had the OT GWG in Game 6), but Ward scored just 2:57 into overtime to spoil the party in Boston.
Granted, only six players from that series are still involved in the current Bruins-Capitals series. But the fact of the matter is that in their last 10 playoff games, the Bruins and Capitals have gone to overtime seven times, and they've gone to double-overtime twice, and all 10 games have been decided by a single goal.
To emphasize: In their last 10 playoff games against each other, the Bruins have scored 24 goals, and the Capitals have scored 23.
I mean. Are you kidding me?
We could go back to the previous playoff series between the two teams, too, even though the 1998 postseason took place several eras ago and does not exactly relate to the modern day. But if you wanted to take a peek back to that memorable series, you'd find oh goodnes ... oh no ... come on ... you'd find FIVE MORE OVERTIME PERIODS AND THREE MORE OVERTIME GAMES FROM A SERIES THAT ONLY LASTED SIX GAMES.
You might remember Tim Taylor's toe in the crease costing the Bruins what would've been the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 3. The Capitals eventually won that one in double-OT, just two days after Darren Van Impe (Darren Van Impe!) had delivered a double-OT winner for Boston in Game 2. The Bruins staved off elimination with a 4-0 win in Game 5, only to lose in crushing fashion in Game 6. With the primary assist going to Joey Juneau, Brian Bellows scored the OT-winner and series-clinching goal in overtime on FleetCenter ice.
Clearly, the Capitals and Bruins franchises simply cannot get enough when it comes to overtime in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Fortunately, the 1990 Bruins erased the Capitals in four games, so we don't need to tap in to ancient history.
But in their past three playoff series, the Bruins and Capitals have headed to overtime 10 times in 16 games. Four of those were double-OT affairs.
Of those 16 games, 13 have been decided by one goal.
And in total, the Capitals have won nine games, while the Bruins have won seven.
The Capitals have outscored the Bruins 39-37.
It is, really, madness.
Some people might be saying, "Who cares? This isn't hurting anyone."
And though David Krejci survived that treacherously dangerous moment, the teeth in the Boston and D.C. metro areas being ground down to stubs might take issue with this trend. Folks who could use a good night's sleep, or perhaps people left with no choice but to stress-eat and/or stress-drink during these tumultuous evenings, they are the ones who probably wouldn't mind seeing a 4-1 game at some point in this series, even if only for the brief respite from the stress, pain, and misery that accompanies heavy emotional investment in overtime hockey.
It's not healthy. The Bruins and Capitals need help. Someone needs to let them know. It's OK to not go to OT. Really. Give it a try, fellas.
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