Eight minutes into the third period, the Washington Capitals clung to a 2-1 lead, buoyed by Andre Burakovsky’s two goals. After falling behind 1-0, the Caps rebounded and seemed in control.
Then, the nightmare scenario: Carl Hagelin raced in on a breakaway towards Braden Holtby after a Caps’ miscommunication in the neutral zone. Mike Green, realizing this could be a disaster, chose the two-minute minor hooking penalty over the layup goal. Green reached his stick out and tugged on Hagelin’s gut.
Alex Ovechkin has never made it past the second round of the playoffs. It’s a trite fact, but unavoidable. He’s been in the NHL since 2005, with his window as a primary goal-scorer closing. In 10 years, he has yet to win a Stanley Cup. Some core players around him, like Mike Green, are likely to leave this summer or within the next few years. This may be Ovechkin’s best chance to win a Cup as the undisputed leader of the Washington Capitals. Ovechkin seems to know that. In this year’s Division Final against the Rangers, DC’s captain has put on an astonishing display of talent and dedication, nearly winning games for the Capitals off his play alone. On Saturday, he came up short, but it was another immortal individual performance.
“He’s a force,” coach Barry Trotz said. “No question.”
Midway through the third period, Washington was down 3-1, having just given up a crushing goal to Rangers forward Derick Brassard. Just 90 seconds before Rangers fans were to begin their eight-minute mark “Ovi Sucks! Ovi Sucks! Ovi Sucks!” onslaught, Ovechkin bumbled down the ice with three Rangers on him. He knifed straight through Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, New York’s top defenders, as the two hopelessly whacked at Ovi. Falling to his knees, he let off a perfectly placed wrist shot that went top shelf on Henrik Lundqvist. It was a goal that was nearly impossible to imagine another player in the NHL scoring. It was utter brilliance, under immense pressure, on a huge stage. Save for the cheers of Capitals players, MSG fell silent.
Wednesday morning, I set off to Kettler Capitals Iceplex on a serious mission. I was on deadline, working on a story on Braden Holtby for The New York Times. I paced around the rink until the locker room opened. When Karl Alzner, Holtby’s longtime teammate, became available, I prepared to pepper him with questions about Holtby’s breakout season, but Karl had other ideas.
“Hey, I gotta ask *you* a question!” Alzner exclaimed, pointing out the baby blue Apple Watch on my wrist. “How did you get that so fast?”
Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green is officially in The Zone. During the second period, Green unleashed a wicked, rising slap shot from his Stealth stick that Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek could not handle.
That was a dumb period. (Photo credit: Justin Tang)
On this festive weekend, the Caps looked to clinch a playoff berth with a regulation win over the Senators. Instead, they dug themselves a huge hole early. Somehow, they came back. Then they blew it again. Oh well. Put down your matzo and wine, it’s no time for a yeast-less party.
Mike Green hasn’t ever truly articulated what it is about the Easton Stealth CNT Stick that makes it so great for him. “Every time I see that stick and I pick it up, whether it’s to sign for a fan or whatnot, I can tell right away why I liked it,” Green said to Dan Rosen of NHL.com. “It’s just got the balance that works perfect for me.”
Welp, that stick worked again on Tuesday night. Green scored his second goal of the last three games.