BOSTON — Can they win it all again?
A.J. Couto believes they can. So does his fellow Danvers High junior, Dan McKenna, and his Falcons hockey teammate, senior Nick Strangie.
So do Beverly residents Garrett Raynes and Jason Capachietti, not to mention scores of other North Shore hockey fans who were in attendance here at TD Garden last night to see if the Bruins could successfully defend their Stanley Cup championship.
"They've got the talent to do it," said the 17-year-old Couto, who was sporting a David Krejci jersey while perched up in the balcony in section 309 with his two friends. "Depth is a big thing for them, and they're tough, too."
Boston hosted the seventh-seeded Washington Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series last night, a scoreless duel for three periods before being decided just 78 seconds into overtime, 1-0, on Bruin Chris Kelly's slapper from the top of the left circle.
Capachietti, who played hockey at Beverly High (Class of 1993), was sitting in section 3 of the loge last night; he said he "lucked out" and won them through the team's playoff lottery. While he goes to approximately four Bruins games a season, this was his first postseason experience.
"I think they have a great shot (to repeat)," said the married father of two. "It's a really tight conference, so starting off with the Capitals is a good match for them. They have the team chemistry and keep coming back from adversity. That's how teams win in the playoffs."
Raynes, a 27-year-old who makes pizzas at the Beverly hot spot Little Italy, has been a popular guy the last six months. After getting season tickets prior to the 2010-11 season, he's been in high demand among his friends for ducats this season.
A diehard fan who went to 24 home games this winter as well as road games in San Jose against the Sharks and Manhattan against the Rangers, Raynes was in his usual spot last night — loge 20, row 11 — with his friend Brendan.
"I saw a lot of great games this season, especially in November when they almost never lost. I saw almost all of those," he said. "But the best game was the one against Vancouver (in early January); even though they lost, that game had everything.
Raynes, who likes the Bruins to beat the Capitals in six games, said the Black-and-Gold must focus on playing team defense every time they hit the ice from here on out.
That, and keeping maligned D-man Joe Corvo out of the lineup. "I'd rather have me play defense than Corvo," mused Raynes.
Couto, whose mother got the tickets for him and his friends online, felt there were two keys to another parade this June.
"(Tim) Thomas has to play well again," Couto said of the Bruins' netminder, "and they have to avoid that one big mistake that can cost you a game."
The 16-year-old McKenna said physicality will determine whether or not they'll remain the owners of Lord Stanley's Cup.
"Thomas is playing great and all the main guys are back up front," he said. "Pittsburgh and the Rangers will be tough, but I think they can (go all the way again)."
Strangie, a captain at Danvers High this past season, agreed that the Bruins are probably right there with Pittsburgh when it comes to the favorites coming out of the Eastern Conference this playoff system. He spoke like a true hockey player when asked what was the intangible the Bruins needed to reach their ultimate goal for a second straight season.
"They should be absolutely dead at the end of every game," said the 18-year-old. "If they can look themselves in the mirror and know they gave it absolutely everything they had in order to win, then they'll be successful. It's all about who wants it more."
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Phil Stacey is the sports editor of The Salem News. Contact him at email@example.com, by phone at 978-338-2650 and follow him on Twitter: PhilStacey_SN.