Winter is Coming in 15 Days

Photo credit: Michael Connor/The Washington Times

Photo credit: Michael Connor/The Washington Times

Editor’s note: To get you properly revved up for the season, each member of the RMNB crew will take a longing look back at some of our favorite goals from days gone by. You can call it nostalgia or cheap summer content, but it’s really a reminder: WINTER IS COMING.

The date was April 24th, 2009. The Washington Capitals had taken up their old tradition of digging a hole for themselves. The count was three-to-one, and the New York Rangers were looking to wrap this series up on the road.

So here’s the scene: John Tortorella is still dry, Sean Avery is wearing some D&G three-piece instead of his hockey sweater, and the Rags are on the power play. Your boy Boyd Gordon gets the puck behind Varly and sends it around the boards. It takes a weird bounce to get past the blue line– with Matt Bradley in close pursuit…

Brads gets a soft touch to escape Chris Drury and enters the Rangers zone like a man possessed. With just three deft touches and a burst of speed, Bradley confounds Henrik Lundqvist to score one gorgeous shorthanded goal.

Watch with me:

Pretty stuff. Turns out that was Matt Bradley’s first ever postseason goal. And it was a pretty tally too, the kind you’d expect from a “skill” guy, not a grinder like Matt.

But now that I think about it, expectations never seemed to matter much to Matt Bradley. He’s the guy who stepped in on the big fight, the guy who kept the rink maintenance guys well practiced in their bloodborne pathogen procedures, and he’s the guy who saved the team when they really needed it.

The Rangers didn’t really stand a chance after Brads knocked the wind out of them with that shorty, but elegance was never his thing so he followed it up with this crazy sharp angle to make it 2-0:

The game ended 4-0, and the Caps took the series in 7. I didn’t remember who scored the other two goals because I was in some kind of ecstatic blackout state, but J.P. reminds me that it was the Sashas. That was also the infamous water bottle game for John Tortorella, where he and one particularly militant member of the Caps red army lobbed liquid munitions back and forth. Here’s a Zapruder-like video of the incident (my apologies for the Gary Glitter song). Good times.

With Matt Bradley now a member of the Florida Formercaps and his recent comments about Alex Semin’s care index eating up all the pixels, this might seem a bittersweet memory to some people. Not to me. I see that pivotal goal and the criticism in the same way: this is a player doing what no one else could to make his (former) team better. It’s precious and rare and kind of awesome.

Personally, I look towards this season with excitement. Yeah, Brads is gone. But who’s gonna take his place? Who’s gonna fight and bleed and grind and hustle? Who’s got the grit to do what no one else will? Who’s gonna blow everyone’s mind with a well-timed miracle play? And who’s gonna do it with a mile-wide grin like the one Matt has up top?

Let’s find out on October 8th.

  • Peter

    p.s. that might’ve been Brashear’s last game. Did he play in the Pitt series?

  • Tojohnson12

    Florida Formercaps. I like it. Theo, Flash and Brads. Am I missing anyone?

  • Livia

    Matt was brilliant in that playoff game–it was great to see the video again.  I hope Caps fans treat him well when he plays at VC this season. We can love both Matt and Sasha, right?

  • Katzistan

    Must have watched that goal 50 times now. Remember going to the game pretty resigned to the idea that the Caps were going to blow another playoff they shoulda won, no surprise. This goal, and Brads’ second that followed it, opened up a bit of hope. By the time Ovi scored his dipsy-doodle goal at the end of the second, we knew there was a chance. That was a fun game.

  • Alicia

    I miss Bradley. I was at this game and it was amazing. I was just arguing with a guy in the stands because he said Bradley sucked when he scored his first goal. The guy in the stands then said he was lucky and that he still sucked. Then the amazing second goal happened and I was so proud of the 4 line guy also known as the Professor. I didn’t remember the other goals at all. I went home and watched the game again and it was funny that the camera was on my section when Brads scored and you could see me being a bit excited. No one else will bleed for the Caps like the Professor.