Things of note: Capitals fail (again) to advance beyond the second round, my mother turns a year older and even more awesome, and Derek “I’ve got an A because the team captain is my bestie” Stepan is your OT hero.
What a world.
Rangers vs Capitals
Final Score: Rangers 2 – Capitals 1
Series: Rangers 4 – Capitals 3
When they talk about great goaltending battles, they’re talking about a series like this one, because MY GOD. Look at these scores: 2-1, 2-3, 0-1, 1-2, 1-2, 4-3 (yeah idk what happened there), and last night’s 2-1 effort. Two of these games went to OT.
I think we’re all used to Henrik Lundqvist being talked about as one of the elite in the game. Under Tortorella’s system he was basically relied upon to steal 1-0 games on the regular, because that team was pants at offense. Things have changed with Alain Vigneault at the helm, mostly notably a trip to the conference finals two years in a row when Tortorella’s team struggled to get out of the first round. Of course, you wouldn’t necessarily know it to look at these scores, because on the other end of the ice you had Braden “challenger to the throne” Holtby.
Holtby is still developing, and the fact that he’s still developing should probably be terrifying to the opposition. This dude is only 25, which is young for a starting goaltender. His Sv% this year was the best of his career since becoming a starter, which was only three seasons ago, and he faced 500 more shots than he did the year before, and 800 more than the year before that.
And I just checked hockeydb, their Sv% this playoffs is identical at .944. Good lord, these dudes.
ANYWAY. This game. So a lot was made before the game of Alex “say my name say my name” Ovechkin’s “guarantee” that they would win game 7. He didn’t guarantee, though he did say they would win. What’s he gonna do? Say they’re gonna lose? Whatever, it was blown up because he’s Alex Ovechkin, and that’s kinda dumb.
But Ovechkin definitely came to win. He opened scoring when Rangers defense forgot how to defend.
Like seriously, kudos to captain Ryan “corn fed American” McDonagh’s efforts there, but you should probably not have put yourself in that position to start with, bud.
Rick “human kitty” Nash gets as good a chance as you could hope for on the breakaway late in the period, but chooses to go five hole for inexplicable reasons. Holtby has no problem getting the paddle in the way.
Kevin “celly so hard you hurt yourself” Hayes scores on the power play after Mike Green goes off for cross checking. It was Mike Green’s second penalty in the opening five minutes of the second period and he’s probably getting no love from his team for a while. Also he’s UFA this summer so, you know, probably not coming back at all.
No goals for the rest of the second or all of the third, and I wasn’t watching with the sound on and I didn’t particularly care about the outcome, but I’ve got a really good friend rooting for the Rangers and she was basically catatonic from stress by the time OT rolled around. I feel like at some point you could stress yourself into a place of not caring about the outcome at all, but I don’t think she ever reached that level of chill.
And seriously, you guys. I really feel for the Caps fans with this OT. The Caps had all the possession, twice the shots on goal, and 5 SCF to the Rangers’ 3.
But, because the hockey gods are sometimes fickle and cruel (unless you were rooting for the Rangers and in that case benevolent and kind), Derek Stepan gets a pass behind Caps defense (who left him all alone back there for . . . reasons??) and scores from what looks like an impossible angle:
And that’s the game. It’s Stepan’s first OT winner in the playoffs, and I’m pretty sure he was kinda excited about it.
Also, I really love watching dudes celebrate series wins. They’re kinda fun.
And then this moment in the handshake line was great:
There was also some great goalie love that I can’t find a gif or video of right now, even though I saw one this morning. Sorry buds.
Have a pic instead:
And know that they had a little respectful back and forth while clapping each other on the arm a bunch of times. It was pretty great. They were both beasts.
What we learned: Martin St. Louis’ former team will now face off against Ryan Callahan’s former team . . . . and they’re still facing off against each other. They’ll probably have each other’s number in a lot of ways, which could go either way, really. Whatever happens, looking forward to another goalie battle, now that it seems Ben Bishop has hit his stride.