House Money

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Greetings from the Booth!

After a year’s absence from the postseason, The Washington Capitals are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs starting today (4-21) as they take on the New York Rangers in a best-of-seven opening-round series.  By virtue of winning their last 3 games, the Caps snagged the final NHL Eastern Wild Card spot, while the Rangers are the league’s President’s Cup Champion and the number-one seed overall. On paper, this seems like a one-sided matchup. But, hockey isn’t played on paper (it’s played on ice, thus, the skates), and in this week’s VFB, I’ll make my case as to why the Capitals have a chance to advance past the first round and upset the mighty Rangers.

The Capitals are Playoff-Ready.  The Caps have been in “playoff” mode for a while now, while the Rangers have cruised to their lofty top-seed. Since “selling off” at the trade deadline and going into rebuild mode, the Capitals caught fire. Their young players meshed with remaining veterans like Tom Wilson, TJ Oshie, and Alex Ovechkin, and despite a near-fatal losing skid near the end of the season, found a way to stay in the Wild-Card race and get into the playoffs. Every game down the stretch has been a de facto playoff game for the Caps, while New York now must turn that switch back on starting today. The Capitals, under new coach Spencer Carbery, are playing tight, physical, playoff-style hockey, and that could serve them well against New York.

Goaltending. You can ride a hot goaltender a long way in the playoffs. Case in point, the Caps’ 2018 Stanley Cup postseason, in which Braden Holtby posted a 16-7 record, a .922 save percentage, and recorded 2 consecutive shutouts in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not to mention his stop of an open-net shot against Vegas in the Finals, now known as “The Save.” This year, the Caps will rely on Charlie Lindgren, who didn’t even begin the season as the starter. Lindgren has been nothing short of sensational down the stretch. In the Capitals’ 2 season-ending must-wins against Boston and Philadelphia, Lindgren stood tall, allowing just one goal in the Caps 2-0 and 2-1 wins.

The Great Eight. The Capitals have Alex Ovechkin, arguably the best hockey player of all-time (we can have that discussion another time), and this gives the Caps a chance against anyone.  Barring any unforseen circumstances, in a little over a season, Ovechkin will become the NHL’s all-time goal scorer. After a slow start this season, “The Great Eight” has played more like his old self down the stretch. When he’s not scoring, the Capitals’ Captain has been doing the little things, like blocking shots, and the younger players are feeding off his “leadership by example.” He may not be the Ovechkin of old, but as that saying goes, “great players are not great all the time, but great when they have to be.” This may be one of the last chances Ovechkin has at a Stanley Cup, and that makes him dangerous.

I rest my case, your honor. On paper the Capitals have no chance against the Rangers, but these are the NHL Playoffs, where a hot goaltender, a superstar on your side, and a break here and there could make for an interesting series. The Caps are playing with house money. Time to “Rock The Red!”

Until the next visit from The Booth…ALL CAPS!

RW

 

 

 

 

Sports Dogs talk Caps with John Walton

In a special hockey edition of The Sports Dogs, Ryan caught up on the Caps with John Walton, the radio voice of the Washington Capitals. You can catch the Caps all season long with John on 1450 WFTR and across the Capitals Radio Network.