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.