Braden Holtby and
number one star last night, stood on his head to help the Caps win a 1-0 game
to take a 2-1 series lead over the New
York Rangers. Holtby, Ovie, and lucky bounces have helped wipe out slow
starts that the Caps are notorious for and have not avoided in either of their
playoff series against the New York
Islanders or Rangers. This includes the 12:30 debacle on Saturday and the first
period in game three, after the Rangers came to play and pressured early. This
team cannot seem to wake up for games that start before 1:00 p.m. or come out
pressing in the first period even when the games are this important. Baffling.
about their lack of heart, the Caps pulled out a tight series versus the
Islanders with a seesaw performance. They pounded the Islanders 5-1 in game 5
only to fan on the opportunity to close out the series in game 6. Instead, they
lost and had to go to a game 7, which they eventually won 2-1 with goals from
playoff hero, Joel Ward, and the
young wizard with the puck, Evgeny
Kuznetsov. The heart comes easier when the Caps are desperate, which is not
how teams win the Stanley Cup.
The Caps took that victory and stunned the Rangers with a
2-1 win, to open their second round series, led by a possessed Alex Ovechkin
and steady in the net Braden Holtby. The captain flew around the ice with
purpose, scoring the first goal of the series on the power play from his usual
spot. That the Rangers practiced defending that play and could not prevent the
laser shot that went in the top of the net and back out in a flash before goalie
Henrik Lundqvist even knew what
happened is testimony to Ovie’s power as a sniper. In game 2 of the series, Ovie’s
highlight reel goal in the 3-2 loss made fools of Ranger defenders, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, by splitting them and knocking a puck in top left
corner as he fell to his knees, a vintage Ovie goal. Ovie is playing on another
level and the Caps need that to continue.
Holtby’s been strong and getting stronger since the playoffs
started, even if he occasionally lets in softie goals. He’s calm and focused as
he bails out his team more often than he lets in softies. His game last night
was probably his best of the season. His .949 save percentage shows leads the
league among the remaining goaltenders. The Caps need that to continue, too.
The lucky bounces were two game winning goals, noteworthy,
because lucky bounces do not find the Caps. Joel Ward’s game winning goal off
of Alex Ovechkin’s impossible pass across the body and in front of the net to
the waiting Ward with 1.3 seconds left was lucky. Jay Beagle’s hard working second attempt to get the puck in the net
deflected off Keith Yandle or
Lundqvist and became the game winner. Beagle demonstrated how hard work
creates luck and nobody deserves it more because he always toils on the ice.
Keep working hard Caps and keep making luck.
Let’s go Caps!
Labels: Alex Ovechkin, braden holtby, jay beagle, Stanley Cup playoffs, Washington Capitals