BOSTON, MA -- While much of New England was enjoying holiday festivities on Sunday, GM Peter Chiarelli was thinking about his club's chances against the Washington Capitals in the upcoming first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I feel good about our team," said Chiarelli. "I think we have more skill [than last season], because I think our skill has matured from last year.
"It’s so tight, I mean you got to get some luck along the way, but I think we’ve got as good a chance as any to come out of the East.
"We’re facing a pretty formidable foe to start, we haven’t matched up well against Washington and we kind of caught them when we were in a bit of a down swing each time it seems.
"So it’s going to be a good test."
The Bruins were 1-3 versus their rivals from the Southeast Division and Chiarelli anticipates that the Black & Gold will continue to have their work cut out for them.
"I mean aside from the last game, I don’t think we played very well against them," said the GM. "We went through a pretty long stretch when we were average and I think we played them twice in that stretch."
However, the B's clearly have a gameplan in mind for the playoffs games between the clubs.
"The big thing is, [Zdeno] Chara against [Alexander] Ovechkin," said Chiarelli. "Chara takes pride in shutting down Ovechkin, so I think obviously you’re going to see that matchup.
"They have some good skill, some real good shooters and it’s important to keep those guys on the outside inside.
"So, there’s a preliminary game plan for you."
The rest of the gameplan will take shape in the days leading up to Game 1, but Chiarelli confided that there really no surprise what the Bruins need to do.
"With our team it’s about playing to the man, play in hard, straight lines," said Chiarelli. "Getting pucks deep, getting behind the D and create plays both off the rushes and off the forecheck.
"I know that sounds very simple, but that’s what our strength is.
"Often times, it’s about playing to your strengths, rather than playing to what you perceive is the other team’s strengths to be and I think that’s the case here, too," he said.
But the challenge will be to employ that plan against a very talented and dynamic Washington club.
"I think we have to shut down their skill. Between Ovechkin, [Alexander] Semin, [Niklas] Backstrom, they got good skill in the back end," said Chiarelli. "They’re a high-end skill team, and I think it’s really important we play the gaps tight in all three zones with these guys.