After taking a 3-1 lead in their second round series against the Rangers, the Caps lost game six 4-3 in front of their home fans on Sunday night and now must play in another excruciating game seven on Wednesday.
Despite the Caps’ history of choking in the playoffs– they have blown 3-1 series leads four times, the most in NHL history– Alex Ovechkin believes this Caps team is different. Despite winning only three of their last 14 series-clinching games, he believes they can return to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1998. And he’s not considering any other friggin’ result.
For the Rangers, the winners of the Presidents’ Trophy this year, a few inches here and there had put them on the verge being eliminated from the postseason in early May. In their last eight periods coming into Friday’s game, they had scored two goals. After every loss to the Capitals, three of them heading into game five, they insisted they were about to break through. Every night, the Rangers showered Capitals goalie Braden Holtby with pucks. Though his teammates prevented many of those shots from reaching him, most made it through towards the net. Holtby, as he has all season, stopped nearly all of them.
In a series with some of the most spectacular goals imaginable, Holtby, 25 and a restricted free agent at the end of season, has been Washington’s most remarkable player. In the regular season, Capitals coach Barry Trotz played him more than any other goalie in the league, 73 games total. Through game four of this round, he had given up just 15 goals in 10 postseason games. His 1.48 goals against average and .950 save percentage topped all goalies still playing in the postseason.
But the Rangers offense, which netted 248 goals in the regular season, never disappeared. As their head coach Alain Vigneault reiterated after every game, they were knocking on the door. In the opening three games of the series, they put 94 shots on net. They added another 35 the first 58 minutes of game five. But their chances were running into the league’s hottest goalie, a guy who had been benched for weeks on end just a year ago.
But finally, 101 seconds before New York’s season was set to expire, Chris Kreider beat Holtby on the Rangers’ 36th shot of the night, a one-timer from the near circle.
“I just didn’t see it,” Holtby told reporters after the game.
One of Jimmy Fallon’s go-to bits is Superlatives, where he takes an awkward bio photo of an athlete and then gives them a funny superlative like you’d find in a high school yearbook. Last night, he did some for the NHL again (NBC channels are airing all NHL playoff games) and Fallon mentioned three Caps players: Alex Ovechkin, Curtis Glencross, and John Erskine.
If you love cheesy 80’s sitcoms and/or the Washington Capitals, you’re going to love this.
Last October, Adult Swim aired an 11-minute-long video at 4 AM during its usual infomercial block. Entitled Too Many Cooks, the clip begins as a parody of the opening credits of old TV sitcoms like Full House, Step By Step, and Perfect Strangers. One character is introduced. Then another. And another. And another. And then like sixty more. It keeps going and going until it takes a very dark turn. Upon release to YouTube, the video went viral.
RMNB reader Ned Belliveau (follow him right now) made a parody of the parody. He calls it Too Many Caps. Enjoy.
Once an afterthought in the Filip Forsberg deal, Michael Latta has since carved for himself a full-time roster spot in Washington. An underrated, rugged center, Latta’s adept at killing penalties, forechecking, punching faces, and being literal sandpaper on the ice. Off the ice, he’s something of a social media all-star and a player to whom fans have really gravitated.
Latta, who almost has 20k Twitter followers, has co-created new nicknames for Evgeny Kuznetsov, Mike Green, and Nicklas Backstrom. He’s live-tweeted what it’s like to be roommates with Tom Wilson and Andre Burakovsky. He was the single funniest moment of EPIX’s Road To The Winter Classic. He was one of the first players to send out a well wish to the #Pray4Bman hashtag.
Simply put, Latta is a delight. On Sunday, I stuck a camera in his face after a bag skate at KCI. This turned out to be a good idea.
Holy hell. In game two, Alex Ovechkin scored one of the greatest goals of his career. Skating into the New York Rangers’ zone, Ovechkin skates through two defenders. Then as he’s falling down to the ice, the Russian machine rips a shot to the top left corner past future Hall of Fame goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.