We try to read lips, but it’s not easy to know what our Capitals are saying. Not unless a HBO crew is following them, or they’re within earshot of Pierre McGuire.
Luckily, Karl Alzner, John Carlson, Mike Knuble, and Matt Hendricks got mic’d up for the second round of the playoffs. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Rangers vs. Caps. Tears and swear words not included.
There were a few common themes to the Capitals’ last postseason interviews, before they went their separate ways for summer. The first question posed was always about Dale Hunter, who has made the decision to return to the London Knights franchise in Ontario rather than stay on to coach the Caps. The team expressed universal admiration and gratitude for what he brought to the Capitals in his short tenure, often focusing less on his system than on the character and sense of accountability he was able to instill.
There was clear disappointment at the early ending to the season, but a different tone to the team’s assessment of their year than the year before — many of the Caps mentioned that they thought they were able to go out in a way that they feel better about this year, though of course they’d all still rather be playing hockey.
Read on for the details of Jay Beagle‘s injury, Brooks Laich standing outside Hunter’s window holding a boombox, and Hunter’s odd career model for Alexander Ovechkin.
In a few short hours, the Capitals will face the Rangers in New York City to battle over who will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. But we shouldn’t worry. Why? Because our team is made up of a bunch of super heroes.
The Capitals had they backs against the wall Wednesday in Game 6, down 3-2 in the series after dropping Monday’s game in heartbreaking fashion. For this team, during this year, that was nothing unusual. Their head coach was fired in November. They were on track to miss the playoffs late in the season. But they beat the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round. And they just pushed the number one seed to a final, deciding game in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
“Everyone would like it to be smooth sailing all the time, but it’s just not the way it works around here and the way it works in the playoffs,” John Carlson, nestled in a corner of Washington’s locker room, told reporters. “I think everyone is paying the price for each other. I think everybody is sacrificing, doing what it takes, whether it’s playing, whether it’s not playing, whether it’s chipping the puck out instead of trying to stick handle, whether it’s getting the puck deep — everyone’s committed and knows when they look left, look right, look across that people want it. If you look in the playoffs right now it’s the best team teams. Teams that work together the best are most successful.”
The Washington Capitals went back to the dimly lit den of sin called Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Against the New York Rangers, with whom they were tied 2-2 in the series, the Caps struggled to muster the offense that had characterized their last couple games, but they did have a little traction on the power play. Unfortunately for them, however, the Rangers had more.
Anton Stralman got a softy on Braden Holtby in a dominant first period for the Rangers. The tide turned in the second period, and Brooks Laich evened it up with a sneaky snap after an offensive-zone faceoff.
John Carlson earned the lead with a barrage of slap shots on a third-period power play. But in the final 20 seconds of the game, Joel Ward’s high-sticking penalty gave Brad Richards the tying goal. With 7 freaking seconds left.
So we went to overtime once more, but it didn’t last long. Marc Staal ended it on the power play. Rangers beat Caps 3-2 (OT).
The golden years of the Capitals’ “Young Guns” — Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Alex Semin — are over. Back in 2009, they were scoring almost constantly, having career years as the Caps blew out teams on the way to the Presidents’ Trophy.
Mike Green does his best Alex Ovechkin impersonation. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)
Three years later, Bruce Boudreau is gone, the goals are way down, and Washington barely made the playoffs. But Saturday afternoon against the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals they made a reappearance.
“We’ve been here the longest,” Backstrom told reporters after the game. “We need to step up.”
Ovechkin — whose struggles the past few seasons have been well documented — started the scoring off with a knuckling slapper that Henrik Lundqvist could not handle. Then, after New York tied the game up, Backstrom unleashed a fantastic snipe from the slot. And with the contest knotted at two with 5:48 left in the third, Green fired a bullet from the point on the power play to send the series back to New York even at two games apiece.
The Washington Capitals returned home with hopes of gaining a series lead over the New York Rangers. Fans got involved with some rousing “O! V!” cheers, the Caps got their offense moving, and the ice was as soupy as you’d expect in the D.C. spring. But this game was unlike any others. It was a thing of History. Capitals history. And you can probably guess from that alone how it turned out.
After a scoreless first, Ryan Callahan converted a power play by tapping in a puck served up for him after bouncing off of Matt Hendricks. John Carlson tied it up with a dangle-icious wrister that went top shelf.
The third period was tense, but offered no resolution to the game. And so we went to overtime.
Alex Ovechkin rang the post on a huge breakaway– leading to some goal lights and a bit of premature celebration, but it was waved off. And thus we needed double secret overtime.
Brian Boyle blocked Mike Rupp’s sure-thing game-winner, and thus we needed triple overtime.
In trip OT, Jeff Schultz made the block of his life using his pants. Yeah, his pants. That’s how weird stuff got.
But then Marian Gaborik coordinated with Brad Richards to finally end it with some behind-the-goal-line action.
The New York Rangers got the breaks they needed to beat the Washington Capitals in Game One. It seems like nothing went right for the Caps.
The first period was scoreless despite the Rangers dominating early and the Caps buzzing late. A little past halfway in, Artem Anisimov converted a wraparound after Mike Green failed to contain him. Jason Chimera tipped in a saucer pass from Brooks like before the second period’s final buzzer. Chris Kreider’s slapshot restored the Rangers’ lead as Mike Green signaled for a line change. Brad Richards piled on with a net-crasher. Rangers beat Caps 3-1.
The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins had split wins in each other’s cities. Saturday afternoon’s bout in Boston was the first of two games within 30 hours, and another example of how tight this series has been.
After a scoreless first, Alex Semin wristed the puck past Tim Thomas while Joe Corvo writhed in pain in the periphery. Jay Beagle sent a loose puck dribbling past Thomas to make it 2-0– the first time either team has had a two-goal lead all series. Dennis Seidenberg got some space from Ovechkin and beat Holtby near-side to get the Bruins on the scoreboard. Just a few seconds later, Marchand (with help from Peverley) pushed the puck through Holtby’s five-hole and tied the game.
And then…. in the third period…
Yes. Mike Knuble crashed the net to make it 3-2 for the Capitals. Johnny Boychuk tied it up while Dennis Wideman was in the penalty box. On the Brouwer Play, Troy Brouwer scored a brouwer play goal, his first brouwer play goal and the game-winner. Caps beat Bruins 4-3.
After Thursday’s disappointing overtime loss to the Boston Bruins, Dale Hunter’s Washington Capitals redoubled their efforts. The result: another excruciatingly tight hockey game at TD Garden, but with a heluva lot more offense.
Troy Brouwer crashed the net to score to the game’s first goal after 38 scoreless minutes. Halfway through the third, Benoit Pouliot tied the game with a backhand off a loose puck in the slot.
And the overtime. Nothing. OT2 ended in a blink… as Nick Backstrom beat Thomas over the shoulder. Caps beat Bruins 2-1 (OT).