The guarantees have been made. Both the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers are about as well-rested as one can expect, with Game 6 ending on Sunday. Now it’s time to get to the nail-biting, legacy-defining action of a Game 7.
As the 2015 Presidents’ Trophy winners, the Rangers get to host this contest at Madison Square Garden. You can watch this big game in the Big Apple on NBCSN and stream it via NBC Sports Live Extra:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Big test for Alex Ovechkin, Rick Nash
Joel Ward doesn’t believe in “clutch.”
Your Game 7 officials
The Washington Capitals already furnished the New York Rangers with bulletin board material thanks to Alex Ovechkin’s soft guarantee for Game 7. Why not double-down, then?
When asked about why the Capitals might take Wednesday’s decisive game against the Rangers, Evgeny Kuznetsov said it came down to Braden Holtby vs. Henrik Lundqvist … and he’ll take Holtby.
“Our goalie’s better,” Kuznetsov said with a laugh. “I don’t know what you want me to say. Our goalie’s better.”
Here’s video of his comments, along with other interesting reactions (some more likely than others to provide bulletin board material):
Those are bold words in just about any context, but considering Lundqvist’s status as one of the few truly elite goalies in the NHL – maybe the elite goalie in the league – things get that much spicier. Quite frankly, Lundqvist clearly got the best of Holtby in Game 6, yet perhaps their will be a reversal of fortune when everything’s on the line for both teams?
If that’s true, it would break an interesting pattern:
Perhaps Kuznetsov and Ovechkin were a little bit more candid following the frustration of seeing Washington’s 3-1 series lead evaporate into a 3-3 tie? Whatever the case may be, they’re adding extra motivation to a Game 7, the most inspirational situation a hockey player can ask for (at least from a team standpoint).
The beauty and silliness of sports wraps up in this thought, then: if Washington wins, this will look brilliant … and the opposite situation would make them look like bragging buffoons.
Barry Trotz probably doesn’t love this, yet it sure makes this situation more fun, doesn’t it? We’ll see if this candor only heightens over the long break until Game 7 on Wednesday, then.
One could argue that Corey Perry shouldn’t have even been on the ice after suffering a lower-body injury in the second period of Game 5. That’s the funny thing about sports, though: sometimes the guy on a bum leg makes the biggest difference.
The Anaheim Ducks kept pouring on chances in overtime, but Karri Ramo wouldn’t let the Calgary Flames die without the fight that was a staple of their surprising season. Ultimately, Perry punched in that final chance, winning in 3-2 in overtime to close the Flames out in five games.
Fittingly, the strong-closing Ducks finished this series with yet another third-period comeback, as Matt Beleskey scored his fifth goal of the series to tie things up 2-2.
With that, Bruce Boudreau heads to his first career postseason conference final series in his otherwise dazzling coaching career. It won’t be easy, mind you, as the Ducks get home-ice advantage but the Chicago Blackhawks hold the big-time game experience edge (at least if you consider this the “Boudreau Ducks”).
Perry scored that electric game-winner, but how healthy is he, really?
The good news for the Ducks is that he’ll get some time to heal up until that series against Chicago … assuming a few extra days would make a difference.
The Flames put together an effort that was a decent testament to their unlikely ups. Ramo was excellent (44 saves), which fits in with their streaky goaltending. More typical: Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau made big plays.
They just didn’t do enough, and now Calgary approaches an offseason in which they ponder what to do next.
Speaking of what’s next: do you take the West’s top seed (Ducks) or arguably the gold standard franchise (Blackhawks)? Either way, hockey fans are in for a treat.
That’s the phrase that entered just about every Anaheim Ducks’ fans mind – at least the censored version, for some – as they saw Corey Perry struggle off the ice following a collision with Calgary Flames forward Matt Stajan.
Judge for yourself if there was anything malicious about the low hit, which didn’t draw a penalty:
If nothing else, Perry was able to take a spin onto the ice mere moments later, so we’ll see how it goes.
With zero points in the past four games and plenty of detractors for past playoff play, you’d think Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin might just supply cliches for Game 7. Instead, it almost felt like he pulled a page from a famous New York Rangers leader by making a guarantee.
“We almost tie the game and the character of this group, it shows a lot,” Ovechkin said. “We’re going to come back and win the series.”
OK, he didn’t go the full Namath/Messier and truly utter a guarantee, but it still feels pretty bold in an age of instant bulletin board material. Especially since Washington’s 3-1 series lead is now a 3-3 tie.
The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt highlights the fact that Ovechkin repeated himself, so don’t expect attempts of saying his comments were taken out of context:
Check out his full comments in this video, which also includes some salty comments by Evgeny Kuznetsov:
Some might view this as Ovechkin absorbing the pressure others feel by drawing such attention in a tough time. Capitals head coach Barry Trotz doesn’t buy the notion that the pressure’s all on Washington, anyway.
Some might question Ovechkin’s words … but at least they were family friendly.
Is anyone else squirming at the notion of having to wait until Wednesday to see this Game 7 now? It could feel like an eternity …
Kuznetsov says Caps will win because their goalie is better