Caps at Rangers Pregame: Into the Breach

For the second time in as many rounds, the Washington Capitals’ season comes down to one game. Tied 3 games to 3 with the New York Rangers, the Caps must win to advance to the conference final for the first time since season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Buffy had to kill Angel to stop Acathla from swallowing the Earth. If the Caps lose, it’ll probably feel about the same as when Buffy had to kill Angel to stop Acathla from swallowing the Earth.

7:30. MSG. NBC Sports. Crash the net.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 45-26-11 51.9% 100.3 25.3% 81.2%
New York Rangers 53-22-7 50.6% 101.7 16.8% 84.3%

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Photo: Doug Mills

Your boy Chris Gordon is in The New York Times again, where they call it “Game 7″ instead of “game seven.”  This time, Chris writes about the would-be hero of Game 6 (see?), Joel Ward. Ward scored one goal and assisted on two more in Washington’s 4-3 loss to New York. He’s a big-game player, and games get no bigger than the one tonight. Read all about it.

Goodness, this certainly is a large link to the article.

Congrats again, Chris. Please tell Maureen Dowd and David Brooks I said hey.

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Sixty Minutes of Hockey

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

No one knows the agony of games seven like fans of the Washington Capitals. The Caps, we’ve been told, are a team uniquely terrible at playing Big Games, which are bigger than small games, which don’t even get uppercase letters. Washington, led– perhaps only nominally– by Alex Ovechkin, are choking dogs. Or maybe they’re cursed. Basically, they’re cursed, choking dogs who are also lazy and don’t care about team accomplishments and they’re probably all going to go to Russia soon anyw—

Shut. Up.

The past is not always prologue. Sometimes the past is just trivia. Maybe it’s just painful trivia that provides writers a convenient angle from which to cover hockey, but it’s still trivia.

Tonight is game seven, gay sev to us in the know. It’s not the culmination of a franchise or some grand denouement for a city that needs a winner. It’s just an hour of hockey with one winner and one loser, an hour of hockey to determine if this is the end or not. That’s all.

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Last week, Eric Fehr met the media to update them on the injury that has keep him out of the lineup for most of the playoffs. After two minutes of optimism and indirect answers, the scrum was finished. The day’s routine necessity had been completed. As the rest of the media shuffled away from Fehr’s locker, I made an offhand comment that the F-16 was getting ready for flight.

“There are some bad nicknames out there,” he told me. “Of all the nicknames to have, that’s a pretty cool one.”

I asked what he thought of his other nickname, Fehrsie.

“See, that’s the thing: I hate those nicknames,” he said. “Anybody with a last name with a –y on the end would probably be the worst one. Spelling it –ie doesn’t change anything. You need to be creative. As a group we’ve tried to be more creative with guys. We tried to change it up a little bit.”

Inadvertently, I had just stumbled on a massive scoop. Over the next 10 minutes, Fehr revealed the other hidden nicknames of the Capitals locker room. Some you might know– others you don’t.

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Photo: mndaily.com

On Tuesday afternoon, the Minnesota Golden Gophers tweeted the Washington Capitals with a suggestion: play Nate Schmidt.

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No matter what happens Wednesday, the Washington Capitals have had a fantastic season and two dramatic playoff series we’ll all remember. Along the way, we’ve learned a new phrase uttered by one of our favorite Russians, we’ve closed a coliseum, and we even saw our beloved goaltender go into beast mode.

With all the special projects we’ve done this season, there hasn’t been much time for shirts. Today we have five. Hopefully, you’re going to love them.

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Your favorite player might play in the biggest game of the season. Smiling god/defenseman Nate Schmidt has been recalled from the Hershey Bears. If he plays in game seven on Wednesday, he’ll be filling in for Tim Gleason, who was beleaguered and banged up in game six.

With Gleason out (but not necessarily because Gleason was out), the Capitals dominated the final ten minutes of that game.

When Nate Schmidt and Mike Green were on the ice together during 5v5 this season, the Capitals controlled 55.1 percent of the shot attempts.

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RIP-flipper

For six years, Jay Beagle had the same flip phone. For Beags, it represented the core of his personality: simple, concise, and rugged. Beagle is not like Alex Ovechkin. He does not need to wear two pairs of competing pants or a Mercedes that has an illegal tint and no front plates. Instead, Beagle turns up to Kettler in a Chevy pickup. He wears camo hunting shirts. He wins faceoffs. Sometimes, usually accidentally, he scores a goal.

But in October, Beagle gave up on part of that life. “Flipper,” as his flip phone was known, died. In its, place, he got an iPhone. For years, Beagle looked down upon a hyper-connected life. But these days, he’s a father. On the road for much of the year, Beagle wanted to be able to watch his son, who was born last summer, grow up through pictures and videos taken by his wife and videochat with them using FaceTime. So he got an iPhone. He doesn’t know which model.

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I Guarantee That This Does Not Matter

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There I was, getting Chipotle and listening to Bullseye, when I get the notification above. Apparently, Alex Ovechkin has guaranteed a win in game seven, and Barry Trotz loves it.

The second part is true. The first part is not.

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Photo credit: Nick Wass

Braden Holtby is that good. He has been the best goalie of the playoffs, posting a .951 save percentage through 11 games. But on Sunday night, the New York Rangers offense finally broke through. They jumped out to a 4-1 lead before the Capitals almost pulled off an unbelievable comeback. For the first time this postseason, we saw Holtby crack. Washington’s faith in him, however, is unshaken. They were not interested in talking about Henrik Lundqvist, who turned aside 42 shots in Washington’s one-goal defeat.

“Our goalie’s better,” Evgeny Kuznetsov, defiant in his postgame media scrum, said. “I don’t know what you want to listen from my mouth, but our goalie’s better.”

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