Tom Wilson is barely 19 years old. Most kids his age spend their Friday nights drinking at parties in their precious time off from contributing nothing at all to society. Yeah, you know who you are.
Wilson, though, is bettering our world — he’s a hockey player after all — and he made his NHL debut Friday night. Granted, he skated a team low 6:24, but he threw a few nice hits and pushed some Rangers around after the whistle — typical fourth line stuff. His play wasn’t particularly interesting. The game it came in, though, was. The Caps won game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in overtime to take a 3-2 series lead.
“It was unbelievable — chills,” Wilson told me of his debut, repeating a version of that line countless times while standing in the far corner of the Capitals locker room at Verizon Center. “It was everything I imagined; it was a dream come true.”
Erat lies on the ice after colliding with Ovechkin and Stepan. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
The Washington Capitals power play was very good this season; they scored a lot of goals on it. In the first period of game 4 on Thursday Night, though, it was very bad — so bad that the Rangers had more shorthanded chances than the Caps had shots on goal. One of those opportunities for New York was rather disastrous for Washington.
Holtby leads the Caps on the ice for warmups prior to Game 2. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
It’s playoff time, which means we’re in for an inordinate amount of NBC coverage showing Braden Holtby getting all zen-like on the Capitals’ bench. But what, exactly, is going through the young goaltender’s mind in those moments?
“It’s just visualization techniques, breathing techniques,” Holtby, in a crisp suit with a purple pocket square, told me Sunday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex before the team’s flight to New York. “It’s just one of the things I do I try to do to get my mind in the same frame every night. It gets a lot of attention but a lot of guys do it, you just don’t see it.”
Holtby’s right about it being more widespread than some think.
So we know Holtby’s visualizing; we’ve heard that a thousand times. But what does that actually mean? Well, Holtby says he almost playing a game in his head, imagining what the other team is doing and how he wants to react.
“You go over everything: certain plays, certain things you’ve been working on that you want to see yourself do correctly,” he said. “It’s just visualizing what you want to do. … Try to view yourself the way you want to be viewed.”
So there you have it: Braden Holtby spends his time before big games daydreaming.
Locker puts on a smile after Washington’s Game 3 loss.
No matter what happens to the Washington Capitals in their first round matchup against the New York Rangers, we won’t be hearing Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin after next week. Once the Eastern Conference Semifinals roll around, NBC has exclusive rights to the games. Locker, it seems, is going out in style.
During Monday’s Game 3, the former Cap was in top form. It started when the Caps took a 1-0 lead. Despite taking a couple of penalties, the Capitals were weathering the storm in first period, so well, in fact, that the Madison Square Garden crowd started booing as the final seconds ticked off Joel Ward’s minor.
“You couldn’t script it any better for the visiting Washington Capitals,” Laughlin exclaimed, finishing his sentence just as Brad Boyle unleashed a wrist shot to tie the game.
Whether he’s riding a Vespa on 66, sporting hair that doesn’t make sense, or scoring an overtime goal, Mike Green is always cool. Even in some of the game’s most heated moments, he retains his composure. After Saturday’s one-time blast to put the Capitals up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, he now has eight overtime goals in his career.
“He’s calm all the time with the puck in regulation, so when it gets to overtime and guys start to get the shakes a little bit, he’s still calm Mike Green,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “We call him Casual Mike every now and then.”
“WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
Jason Chimera hasn’t scored a lot of goals this season — so few, in fact, that’s it’s become A Thing. Chimera markers are special occasions to be celebrated– like a John Carlson backcheck. But Thursday, in game one of the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, we got another special occasion.
Just 46 seconds after Marcus Johansson took Steve Oleksy‘s divine saucer pass and put it behind Henrik Lundqvist in the second period, Chimmer added another goal to Washington’s tally. Taking a pass from Mathieu Perreault, the Bald Bullet swept the puck towards the net from the blueline. It seemed as if Chimera was trying to set up a play for Matty P, who by then had parked himself in front of net. Instead, Chimera’s puck trickled lazily past King Henrik.
“He’s had some struggles as far as the regular season goes,” Troy Brouwer said of Chimera. “To see him score early on, get confidence, play well [is good]. He loves helping the team out, he loves playing hockey, and he did a great job tonight.”
Steve Oleksy played in 14 playoff games in professional hockey before tonight: with the Idaho Steelheads, the Lake Erie Monsters, and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He had never played in an NHL postseason game, because, until March of this year, he was little more than an AHL role player.
It’s official: Alex Ovechkin has won the 2013 Rocket Richard Trophy. Back in February, Ovechkin was getting trashed as struggled through his third consecutive subpar year. Now he’s the NHL’s scoring leader for the third time in his eight year career.