The Morning Skate: Gentle readers, before we [CENSORED] all over our Bruins friends, let us pause a moment, as you scramble in blind panic preparing for snow that will never, ever come again, to consider the hazards of making predictions. Especially about the Caps.
For example, if I predict no snow Wednesday, it’s gonna get all crazy 20″ up in here. Conversely, I stone cold guarantee that if I dash to the store today to buy a terror shovel, we will be mopping our brows and sipping Mint Juleps on our verandas by Friday. The point is: predictions can go so wrong. Britain’s Lord Kelvin (he of Downton Abbey, we guess?) said heavier-than-air machines could never fly. Harry Warner said no-one would pay for talkies. The Skipper predicted a three-hour tour. Boom.
Welp, the Washington Capitals got knocked out of the playoffs again, and we’re totally exasperated. Here’s the part of the year where we wonder what went wrong.
Here’s also the part where the scoundrels will try to wrest away the discussion from right-thinking individuals. Before the loudmouths start throwing around sweeping generalizations and platitudes, I’m going to try to get some actual, objective information out there.
What follows is a breakdown of how the Capitals postseason went down– strictly by the numbers.
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.
Photo credit: Brian Babineau
Joel Ward was a playoff hero for Nashville last year, leading the league in postseason goals at one point in the first round and ending with better than a point per game.
That grit and clutch goal-scoring was why General Manager George McPhee outbid a number of other teams to sign Ward in the summer to an expensive 4-year, $12 million contract.
In the regular season, however, things didn’t go as planned. Ward was benched one game for missing a meeting, scratched several games for poor play, and managed to tally just six goals. It was the worst offensive season of his career– though he spent most of it assigned as a fourth liner.
But Joel Ward’s play in the regular season isn’t what got him glory in Nashville. And it’s not what just put him in Capitals’ record books forever.
Photo credit: Elsa
Game Seven. You know the deal.
Jason Chimera dropped the puck to John Carlson, who fired a shot that Matt Hendricks tipped in. Tyler Seguin dove to knock in a loose puck behind Braden Holtby to tie the game heading into the third period. The game went into overtime.
And then it happened. You knew it would. Mike Knuble crashed the net and Joel Ward swept in the rebound. Caps beat Bruins 2-1 (OT).
Holtby’s not impressed.
Before the series started, the Bruins talked a tough game about getting in Braden Holtby‘s face and making life difficult for him. Like many players before them, they soon learned that was easier said than done. With the score tied at 1-1 at the end of a tense second period, Rich Peverley got a little too close to Holtby and Holtby let him know by shoving him off his skates. Peverely retaliated — or at least, pretended to, taking a two-handed slash at Holtby that he stopped just short, clearly trying to spook or scare him.
Video is below the jump.
The Washington Capitals are 2-7 all-time in Game Sevens. They’re 0-1 all-time in Game Sevens on the road, 1-2 all-time in Game Seven OT, and none of that matters at all, because all we need them to be is 1-0 in Game Sevens on April 25, 2012, versus the Boston Bruins.
Kanoobs celebrates his Game 5 goal. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
After being scratched for the first three games of the Caps’ first round series against Boston, 39-year-old Mike Knuble was inserted into the lineup for Game Four and hasn’t been taken out since. The fan-favorite right wing even scored in the third period of Game Five to help the Capitals take a 3-2 lead in the series. Knuble has always been reliable for the Caps in the postseason — he’s scored 5 goals in 16 career playoff games for the Capitals and has 28 points in 57 career playoff games. The 16-year NHL veteran has also won a Stanley Cup and played in three Game Sevens, which is something not many players on the Caps roster can say.
So what should we expect to see in the deciding game on Wednesday? In an interview with DC101’s Elliot in the Morning, Knuble talks about Braden Holtby, tuning out the Bruins’ trash-talk, and Ovechkin’s limited ice time in Game Three.
Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
After Andrew Ference chucked a rebound past a helpless Braden Holtby, the Bruins took a commanding a 3-2 lead with 10 minutes to go in the game. The Caps’ hopes of clinching the series at home slipped away with that play…
Or at least until Alex Ovechkin slammed a puck through Tim Thomas’s five-hole with five minutes left to go. Despite countless cricitics declaring his decline, it was Ovechkin’s second goal and his fifth point in the series. He is the second highest playoff point-scorer among active players in the league.
The best part of the goal however, was Ovi’s jubilant celebration which included a face-first jump into the boards.
If you liked our new cover photo, you’re really going to love the photos below.
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