The Washington Capitals may have just turned on the proverbial switch. You know, the one that Gregg Poppovich used to own in San Antonio? After cruising through the regular season the Caps entered the playoffs with high aspirations, namely, hoisting the Stanley Cup. Then, just four days ago they were facing elimination, down 3-1 to the New York Rangers. The stars were unable to score, and the posts were being unkind. Now, the law of averages has taken over and all the wristers, slap shots and one-timers are finding the back of the net. Due to the barrage of pucks landing in the Rangers’ net, “The King” Henrik Lundqvist has only played four out of the last six periods.
Image Courtesy of the Associated Press
It has not been Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green carrying the load either. This team is winning – nay – beating the Rangers into submission together. Role players like Matt Bradley, John Erskine, and Tom Poti are playing their roles to a ‘T’. Alexander Semin is showing hockey fans across the country what everyone around here knows: he is as gifted a player as there is in the league. Simeon Varlamov turns 21 today. Happy birthday Simeon, maybe Mr. Leonsis can give you a new mask for game seven tomorrow night? Have you ever seen a goaltender playing this well in the playoffs, while still rocking his AHL logo on the side of his face? That’s like Brad Bergesen starting game 1 of the ALCS wearing his Bowie Baysox cap. One can certainly dream.
Sunday’s game six showed America just how good the Caps are. Now they have to go out and do it again in game seven. The trouncing that was on display Sunday afternoon is either going to catapult the Caps into a deep playoff run, raising the teams confidence level, or it will be just another marvelous display of talent, still a year or two from really challenging for the cup.
The Rangers will come out and play hard. The return of their head coach from a one-game suspension should help raise their intensity level. They were toyed with by the Caps yesterday, embarrassed on their home ice, and beaten down by a Donald Breashear cheap shot for good measure. Now we will see if they can get up from the canvas and fight one last time. If the Rangers don’t wake up, the Caps will cruise to another easy victory. I would expect a little more of a fight for game seven.