For the first time in 19 years, the Capitals are moving onto the Eastern Conference Finals. It was 1998 the last time the Capitals made it this far in the playoffs, and that time in 1998, Dale Hunter was the captain, Adam Oates was playing and that snake Chris Simon was in the league! It feels like forever ago the Capitals have made it this far, after losing to the Penguins in the second round two times in a row, the “curse” finally feels broken and the Capitals are one series win away from competing for the Stanley Cup.
This game the Capitals seemed like the better team from start to finish especially in the first at least, they were all over the Penguins and gave them very little room to move in the offensive zone. Hats off to the Capitals defense, Orlov, Niskanen, Kempny, Carlson, Orpik for shutting down a lot of the Penguins top guys this series and game six in particular, it was a part of the Capitals success this whole series. Along with Holtby stopping 21 of 22 shots Tuesday night and the Capitals defense holding the Penguins to 22 shots. A big part of this teams success though has to be the fact maybe the Penguins were tired, run down and battling some injuries.
If we look at some of their key players like Malkin, Hornqvist, Letang, Hagelin, Dumoulin had to be battling injuries, Malkin and Hagelin were out at one point this playoff run and were not 100 percent, as goes for Hornqvist who was hurt coming into the playoffs. Dumoulin was banged up a little after the first series and game one. As for Letang, he has to be banged up after watching this series and hearing the announcers rip him to shreds game six he has to be performing at 50 percent. It was noticeable the Penguins were tired and back to back years of playing from September to mid-June really took a toll on this Penguins team.
It is not an excuse or anything for the Capitals winning, all series I think the Caps outplayed the Penguins and by no means should any Penguins fan be disappointed or upset with their team, this gives them plenty of time now to refocus, recover and get ready for yet another playoff run next year. But as an NHL fan, you have to be happy to see Alex Ovechkin getting the shot play on an even bigger stage now. Ovechkin after the game said that “Finally you know? It’s been too long. Finally, we beat Pittsburgh and finally we move onto the next round. We don’t go home, we’re not going on vacation, we’re still battling and it’s fun.” Also said what was going through his mind during the Kuznetsov breakaway game-winning goal and it is typical Ovi “please score, just f*cking score, please.” Congrats to Washington!