How sweet it is
To watch the Caps win a game 7 in overtime against the defending Stanley Cup champions. And, of course, it had to go to overtime. But, it's over and the Caps prevailed to move on. I decided to take Mike Wise's advice and think positive today. All day, I kept telling myself that the Caps were going to win tonight. That's tough to do that when you're a Caps fan and have seen more playoff misery than you care to remember. Yes, there are highlights, like the current coach's game winner in overtime against the Flyers, but those moments are easily outnumbered by the failures.
Not tonight though. Instead, Joel Ward earned his paycheck by cashing in on a Mike Knuble rebound in OT. Knuble deserves tons of credit, too, for getting that puck to the net first. I don't think he'll be watching any more playoff games from the press box.
The other player I have to commend is, of course, Matt Hendricks. He potted his first playoff goal in this game 7 to put the Caps up 1-0. He continued to play his gritty and aggressive game throughout the game.
Braden Holtby, the 22-year old rookie goalie, played a stellar series against the Bruins. There may be something to the rumor that the youngster needed his next challenge. He had his weak moments and scared me early on tonight, but he's got confidence and is withstanding the pressure of the playoffs, so far.
And, then there was Dale Hunter's series strategy. He matched up against Claude Julien quite well. Whatever anyone thinks about Alex Ovechkin's lack of playing time in a series where it's hard to get him space against Charo/Seidenberg, it worked. I don't think it will necessarily be that way against other opponents, but I'm not going to question it now.
The Caps won't know their second round opponent until tomorrow. Tonight, it doesn't matter anyway. I'm a happy Caps fan, for once.
Let's go Caps!
p.s. This was the first time in NHL history that a playoff series had all 1-goal games. As a Caps fan, I hated it. But, for fans of hockey, this was a great series.