Capitals Weather the Storm, Head to Game 7

Posted May 21, 2018

The Capitals went up 2-0 in this series, then the rains rolled into Washington, and with it the momentum shifted to Tampa Bay. Lightning striking the Capitol Dome was the ominous symbol they showed on the NBC broadcast, and for three games it appeared the Capitals were drowning in the effort from the Tampa Bay Lightning and their talented roster.

But the storm clouds cleared after nearly a week, the rain finally stopped, and today the SUN came back out in Washington. The Capitals promptly took care of business at home, in a way they haven’t been able to do often in these playoffs, and dispatched Tampa Bay 3-0. It was a solid team effort all around, with T.J. Oshie scoring two goals, Devante Smith-Pelly getting the crucial second goal in the 3rd period, and Braden Holtby weathering a Lightning surge early in the 3rd period to finish the game with a shutout (his first of the season).

“The only reason it’s good is because you know you’ve won. Aside from that it’s just another statistic for you guys to write about.” – Braden Holtby

However it wasn’t just those stars of the score sheet, other players had big impacts up and down the lineup. Tom Wilson was a one man wrecking crew, hitting everything (cleanly) that moved. Ovechkin too seemed to be extra motivated, and although he didn’t score, he led his team with his skating and effort.  He delivered on his pre-game guarantee. Jay Beagle killed penalties, while Kuznetsov, Backstrom, and Eller controlled the puck. Youngsters Vrana, Burakovsky, and Stephenson played with speed, and the defense snuffed out plenty of plays before they even reached Holtby’s crease. It was a great team win, with everyone contributing.

“Great energy in the building. Fans weren’t apprehensive, and we gave them something to cheer about.” – Barry Trotz

The Capitals Fans did their part too, as we noted often on twitter during the game. They came early, and from the opening face-off supported the team with loud and proud cheering. As the Capitals entered the ice to start the 3rd, the fans gave them a standing ovation, and cheered loudly for much of the period. We also noticed that the fan base is much better at cheering at appropriate times, for great efforts on the penalty kill, big hits, big saves, and sustained pressure in the zone. Their cheers and groans also indicate they are more versed in the rules of icing and off-sides than they were 10 years ago when we first started covering this team. The fan base has grown with this team, and is ready to take the next step, and bring a Cup home to Washington.

This latest iteration of the lineup is likely what will be utilized in Game 7, as Trotz normally doesn’t mess with success. The Capitals have regained what they lost after Game 2, and have the momentum back in this series. However Tampa Bay is the more talented team on paper, and does have the home ice advantage. Lucky for us fans, the Capitals are back to looking like a team of destiny. Now that they’ve weathered the lightning storm, there is nothing to stop them from taking the next step in this epic playoff run. They have a date with destiny against George McPhee’s Las Vegas Knights!

We’re excited to drop the puck in a couple days here and go to war. – T.J. Oshie

…and yes, we were trying to see how many lame hockey writer puns we could toss into an article. We’ll try harder next time.