“Just the big guy on campus, you know?” Ward explained. “The Big Cheese, it’s like the king on the throne. I mean, the Cheese kind of holds everything together in here, you know?”
On Thursday night, Ward, playing on the first line again with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, showed why he’s such a big deal. The winger scored with 1.3 seconds remaining in the third period after being marvelously set up by Alex Ovechkin. Ward also scored in game seven on Monday. He famously netted the series-ending goal in deciding game against the Boston Bruins two years ago.
James Dean day dream. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
When Barry Trotz took over, some fans were afraid the Capitals would switch to a tight checking, boring style of play, wringing the joy out of watching players like Alex Ovechkin. Far from it. Tonight, Ovechkin was nominated for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the league’s Most Valuable Player award, for the fifth time, having won the award three times before. Though at the tail end of his 20s, Ovechkin has continued to be league’s premier sniper. He ran away with NHL’s goal scoring race by over 10 goals, netting 53 tallies on his way to his third consecutive Rocket Richard Trophy. Ovechkin also finished fourth in the league in points while his 25 power play goals provided the cornerstone for the NHL’s best man advantage unit.
The Hart Trophy is voted on at the end of the regular season by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, with the winners to be announced at the Las Vegas Awards ceremony after the season. The other Hart nominees were Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and John Tavares of the New York Islanders.
After the Washington Capitals defeated the New York Islanders 2-1 in game seven, Alex Ovechkin had a person that he specifically wanted to see. According to Melissa Schaab, that person was her daughter Ann. Through Capitals officials, Ovi arranged for Ann to come down to the locker room and celebrate the series-clinching win with the team. Ovechkin gave Ann a huge hug upon seeing her. Melissa says the whole thing was a huge surprise.
A Capitals spokesman tells RMNB that Ovechkin wanted to see Ann regardless of if the team won or lost.
Ann has come to a few games since then with her mom and friends. On Monday, Mama Schaab and her daughter got tickets for the game seven. Ann’s excitement was overwhelming as soon as they entered DC.
As they left the parking deck near Verizon Center, Ann saw the double decker bus emblazoned with Caps logos and Ovechkin imagery. According to her mother, Ann “started chasing it.” Melissa added, “Ann ran for a block. The Red Rockers noticed her and they stopped the bus and let her on.”
Ann took photos with everyone, including Slapshot.
Before the Washington Capitals began their first round series against the Islanders, Caps players received hats embroidered with the text, My Man. From this we learned about Alex Ovechkin‘s bizarre tendency to yell the phrase to his teammates.
“It’s kind of a thing when a guy scores or does something good someone says, ‘My Man,'” Karl Alznersaid a few weeks ago. “When a guy walks into the locker room: ‘My Man.’ It’s kind of like a you’re the man type of thing.”
So, it’s the Rangers again. For the fifth time in seven seasons, the Washington Capitals will square off against the folks from Madison Square Garden in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. These series have produced signature moments in Capitals history, such as Sergei Fedorov‘s game seven winner in 2009, and crushing defeats, like when the Rangers outlasted the Capitals by just one goal in game seven of the second round in 2012, booking a spot in the Eastern Conference Final. But, as is their pattern this year, the Washington Capitals will tell you this team is different. They don’t pay attention to the past.
“All that old stuff, get rid of it,” head coach Barry Trotz, in his first year with the Capitals, said. “Let’s look to a new era. Let’s build something.”
The Washington Capitals dominated play in game seven against the New York Islanders through two periods. They were constantly parked in the Isles zone, putting pucks on goaltender Jaroslav Halak with ease. The Islanders could barely muster a whimper, with just six shots on goal as the middle frame wound down. Somehow, though, Washington hadn’t found a way to convert: missed deflections, timely saves, and bad bounces led to a scoreboard that reflected little about what happening on the ice.
Then, with 1:25 left in the second period, Joel Ward broke through, poking Brooks Orpik‘s shot through the legs of Halak. Verizon Center erupted into a shining display of pure human joy. But it was still full of Washington Capitals fans, ready to have their hearts ripped out with final game, final period collapse. And just three minutes and 13 seconds into the closing frame, Frans Nielsen did just that with an innocent-looking wrist shot from the slot that trickled through Braden Holtby’s pads. With that, the game was tied. Though the Caps had dominated play, the game looked like it would end with another bitter, bruising fight, with one bad bounce deciding each team’s fate.
But instead, the game-winner would buck the thuggery the series had shown. With around seven minutes left in the zero-sum game, Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up Jason Chimera‘s pass at the far wall, before cutting right through the heart of the New York zone. The play was magisterial, with Kuznetsov floated past Islanders defenders. Instead of firing the puck off at his first look at the net, Kuznetsov held on to it until he got to the near circle. That’s when Halak went down. Kuznetsov saw an opening.
“I just put puck in the net,” he told reporters after the game.