Flip the calendar back to January.
The Washington Capitals had one win in their first seven games. But after a terrible start, they found their game as the season wore on, eventually taking the Southeast Division.
They finished the regular season with an 8-1-1 record in their final 10 games, giving rise to the belief the Capitals could cause some damage in the playoffs.
It didn’t work out that way. The Capitals won the first two games of their first-round series against the New York Rangers, but lost four of the next five games, capped off with a crushing 5-0 defeat on home ice in Game 7 on Monday.
“This is the best team, team-wise, that we’ve been on. We had the depth, we had the coaching, the structure, the system,” Capitals’ defenseman Mike Green told the Washington Post.
“Things that happen during series that just seem for whatever reason at the wrong time happen to us, that’s no reflection of the guys in the dressing room or how bad we wanted it. The heart and the depth of the guys throughout the lineup is not the reflection of how it should end. “
Capitals’ star Alex Ovechkin threw 13 registered hits in the final loss. But he was held off the actual score sheet.
In fact, Ovechkin didn’t record a single point in the final five games of the series and was a combined minus-three over that span. He was also reduced to one shot on net in Game 7.
But he had 13 hits.
“It’s very frustrating,” Ovechkin told NHL.com. “You’re here to win the games and try to win the Cup.”
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.
Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.
Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:
Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.
Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Update: It didn’t get much better going forward; the Senators beat the Maple Leafs 6-1.
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
Update: This seems fairly positive.