Photo credit: Brian Babineau

While Braden Holtby and Joel Ward will be receiving all the attention after last night’s Game Seven victory, it was Karl Alzner who may have made the most clutch play of the game.

Thirty-five seconds into overtime, an energetic Bruins team camped out in the Capitals offensive zone and looked to end the game early on their first shift. As Dennis Seidenberg blasted a shot from the point, Braden Holtby stopped the puck with his right pad. However, a rebound squirted loose and landed right onto Patrice Bergeron‘s stick.

That’s when Alzner — a two-time WJC gold medal winner with Team Canada (and its captain) — cooly and calmly dove to the ice and got a piece of Bergeron’s shot with his stick. Video is below.

Just two minutes later, Joel Ward ended the series by knocking in Mike Knuble’s rebound.

Despite tallying only an assist and a plus/minus rating of 0, Alzner was easily the Capitals best defensemen in the series. Combining with John Carlson, the two young defensemen were the Capitals’ most effective shutdown pairing and frustrated the Bruins first-line all series long. Alzner had 12 hits and 17 blocks in the seven games against the defending champions.

While we may be seeing Braden Holtby develop into the Capitals goalie of the future, we’re also witnessing the maturation of Karl Alzner into that shutdown defensemen this team has needed for years.

Update: There is some debate about if the puck actually hit Alzner (I maintain it did). See the comments for more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bagher BJ Ghassemieh

    he didnt touch the puck

  • Scottrun311

    closer replays show that the puck just barely hit his stick or missed completely. Either way, I agree with everything above regarding Alzner’s awesomeness. 

  • Katzistan

    Yeah, looked to me Bergeron just stubbed it wide. Not to take anything away from Karl – his presence rushed Bergeron, but I don’ t think he blocked the shot.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I agree. I don’t think it was a shot block– but his being there made the shot go wide. It still saved the season, but it was not a block.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I disagree . The puck is going towards the empty net. Then it hits something, which appears to be the bottom part of Alzner’s stick, and then richochets in a bouncing fashion towards the boards. I just added the GIF to the post above. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but Alzner’s presence and dive still — at the very least — forced Bergeron to hurry and shoot wide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1374634677 Anna Roscigno

    hard to tell, the puck was spinning quite a bit. Cant tell if that’s what caused it to go off course or it does hit the underside of the stick as Alzner lays out.  Either way I agree he was the reason they didn’t score on that play.

  • Dankdabe
  • dankdabe
  • Jfbuks

    I dont think Karl touched the puck, but his close presence forced Bergeron to swat the puck  wide of the goal. Without Karl being there, I think a better shot is made and the Caps go home. WAY TO GO KARL!!!!!!! CAPS AND BEARS RULE!!! Both of your teams are moving on to their respective Cups!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Chris

    Looks to me like it hits his stick from the second .gif.

  • http://twitter.com/VeggieTart Danielle

    Either way, Alzy’s presence prevented that puck from going in the net.

  • hamrlik her

    Doesn’t look he Karl touched it. However, had Bergeron actually gotten that on net, it looks like Alzner would have likely blocked it in time.

  • joro

    It does hit the stick, evident from the second gif that Ian posted (great post all around, I was trying to figure this one out on the DVR but one could not tell from the broadcast angles). That said it looks like the shot was going wide before the block. But the mere fact that Alzner even got a piece of it goes to show how great of defender he is. In terms of contributions in the post-season I think Karl Alzner is second only to Holtby and this is by a slim margin!!!

  • Rhino40

    When I was watching the replays last night both on CSN and NHLN, it looked to me like it might have gone off of Alzner’s leg.

    Actual blocked shot or not?  Doesn’t matter.

    Either way, I think we can all agree that this was a pivotal moment in which Young Karl came up huge.

    #alzner=redemption

    Oh, and more high-fives to Peter:  Thanks to all those idiot pundits who assumed the Caps would lose (and we all know what happens when we assume., heh–heh), Your game summary post had enough bullet points to operate this:
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GAU-8

    …for about an hour….loved it!

    #bear_poked

  • JustinC71

    In that GIF it definitely looks like the puck’s angle changed after catching a peice of the stick.  We can all agree to disagree though, Alzner’s a great defender and we won the game.

  • http://twitter.com/PuckBuddys Puck Buddys

    That is Alz.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    ESPN’s caption on the Alzner headline photo above is this: “BOSTON, MA – APRIL 25: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins shoots
    the puck against Karl Alzner #27 of the Washington Capitals who blocks
    the shot in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during
    the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 25, 2012 in
    Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)”

    http://scores.espn.go.com/nhl/photos?gameId=400259113&photoId=2026115

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=41504979 Andrius Galinauskas

    I cried when this happened. Me and my cousin and all the other 17,565 fans were sure that was going in….not this year I guess :(

  • Michael01a

    OMG, the fate of the series and probably the SC, was decided by the slimmest of margins. Like one inch