Great #8 Strikes Twice in Game 6
Resilient (def): recovering continually, failing to be eradicated
The above definition is as fitting a description of the 2007-08 Washington Capitals as you’ll find. I’ve been using that word when talking about this team since January. Once again tonight, when their backs were to the wall trailing the Flyers 3-2 in the series and 2-0 in game 6 on the road at the Wachovia Center, the boys in red, white, and blue found another gear and stormed back to win the game 4-2 thanks to two beautiful goals by Alexander Ovechkin in the third period.
Great players make big plays in big games and the Great #8 did it again tonight deflecting a Flyer pass to Viktor Kozlov in his own zone that allowed Alex to race down the ice and receive a perfect pass from Kozlov and bury the puck on a breakaway past Martin Biron for the game winner early in the third period. Then Ovechkin sealed the deal just past the midway point of the third period with a blast to the right of Biron off a great cross-ice feed from Brooks Laich. Laich was able to make that play because Sergei Fedorov outhustled a Philly defender to the puck along the boards in the offensive zone.
Other than taking a bad penalty late in the first period, Alexander Semin had another very strong game notching a goal and an assist for the third straight contest. The Caps first goal was a thing of beauty as Steve Eminger made a great pass to spring Laich, Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom on a three-on-two break that ended with Backstrom depositing a wrister past Biron. Semin’s game tying goal came off a rebound of a John Erskine shot that was set up by a great Backstrom hit along the boards that led to a Flyer turnover.
Eminger played his best game of the season logging over 17 minutes of ice time on defense and doing a very good job of moving the puck out of the Caps defensive zone. This has to be very encouraging for Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau. Erskine had his best game of the series as well playing 19 minutes and getting an assist on the Semin goal. Odd man out on defense tonight was Milan Jurcina who played only 11 minutes and that is probably the right amount for him as he has been the weak link on defense the entire series.
The only negative on the night for Washington was the fact that they took five penalties and the first two resulted in Flyer goals. Neither of the goals were Caps goalie Cristobal Huet’s fault and #38 played another outstanding game in net stopping 33 of 35 shots. Mike Richards and Daniel Briere, the best two Philadelphia forwards, collected the Flyer goals. However when the chips were down in the third period and the team clinging to a 3-2 lead the Caps were able to kill off successive four-on-three and five-on-three power plays. In that sequence the penalty killers were great, Huet was great, and the Caps got some good bounces that made up for some of the bad ones they had in game four.
For Caps fans it was nice to hear the Flyer fans booing their own team at the end of the game. However, this series is not over yet. Game 7 is Tuesday night at the Verizon Center and you can bet it will be a rocking affair. This will be a chance for Washington to win its first playoff series since 1998.
Montreal goalie Carey Price pitched a shutout tonight making several big saves and the Canadiens offense resurfaced en route to a Habs 5-0 pasting of the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of their Stanley Cup Playoff Series. As a result of Montreal’s win the second round matchups in the Eastern Conference will be as follows:
If the Flyers win Game 7:
Montreal vs. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh vs. Rangers
If the Caps win Game 7:
Montreal vs. Rangers and Caps vs. Pittsburgh
There will be a new Stanley Cup Champion this year as the Dallas Stars knocked off the Anaheim Ducks four games to two in their opening round playoffs series. Stars goalie Marty Turco has been waiting five years to finally win another playoff series and he took much of the blame for the Stars playoff losses in 2004 and 2006. Those past story lines can now be put to rest as Turco was great in this series. The Stars have three good lines as a result of the trade deadline acquisition of Brad Richards from Tampa but due to the loss of veteran defensemen Sergei Zubov were not expected to beat Anaheim. However, Stephane Robidas and several young Dallas defensemen stepped up allowing the Stars to knock off the defending champs. I, for one, am glad to see the dirty Ducks out of the playoffs.
The Calgary Flames refused to quit against San Jose and goalie Mikka Kiprusoff shut out the Sharks on Sunday night to force a Game 7 that will be shown on Versus immediately following the Caps-Flyers tilt on Tuesday night. I still expect the Sharks to win because they are the better team but anything can happen in a Game 7.
Last week the owners of the Vancouver Canucks fired GM Dave Nonis and some in the Canadian media have been speculating that former Canucks and current Ducks GM Brian Burke might go back to Vancouver. I spoke with a Western Conference scout about this last week and that scenario is absolutely ridiculous. Nonis and Burke are very tight with Burke basically setting that job up for Nonis to take over when Burke left to go to Anaheim. Nonis did a decent job in Vancouver considering the salary cap jail he was left with and he did pull off a steal of a trade getting rid of Todd Bertuzzi for goalie Roberto Luongo. Nonis was criticized for not bringing in enough offense but firing him was a bad move by the Canucks and it will come back to haunt them.