EVEN LATER UPDATE: Lisa Hillary comments have been clarified. Varly’s involvement in the Olympics is “doubtful”. This is definitely a more pessimistic take than others are sharing, but not completely dire.
LATE UPDATE: During the post-game report on CSN, Lisa Hillary reported that Semyon Varlamov has had another setback in his recovery (groin, then MCL strain). According to CSN, Varlamov will NOT be playing in the Olympics.
Every year, the Detroit Red Wings are a staple of the playoffs. It’s a truism of hockey that to get to the cup you must first go through them. For the bigger part of tonight’s hockey game, it looked like the Washington Capitals were not up to the challenge. But there’s a new truism — one that the Capitals have coined– that strength comes from depth. Through the efforts of low-key players like David Steckel, Matt Bradley, Jose Theodore, and Nicklas Backstrom (okay, he’s a superstar); the Caps came back to win a crucial game.
Let’s review shall we:
And that’s the story of how you beat a great hockey team. Looking back at the stat sheet, I’m still not sure how the Caps pulled it off. The Wings outshot them 2:1, they carried the puck better, and they moved faster. So what’s the difference? It wasn’t our superstars. This wasn’t the game where The Great 8 singlehandedly carries his team to victory. No, Washington wins because of their depth: a down-but-not-out goalie, a tough team player who is good in the clutch, and a guy who looks like the guy you have to ask to move so you can order a beer at the bar at Green Turtle (mmm… pub fries). Winning games like this– games you have no business winning– is how you become champions, or so I’m told. I hope in addition to two standings points, the Caps take confidence away from tonight’s game.
Thursday night will find the Capitals crossing the Mason-Dixon line to face Sidney Crosby and the Penguins for the first time since the spring. Caps at Pens is the biggest hockey game of the year (sorry, Winter Classic), and we at RMNB will be pulling out all the stops to ruin it for you. Tomorrow night I’ll be posting my game diary …from game 7 of the playoffs last year.
Stay tuned, Caps fans. It’s shaping up to be a great week.
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