Tag: Nicklas Backstrom

Joel Ward Alex Ovechkin John Carlson

Joel Ward doesn’t believe in ‘clutch’


Tonight is a DEFINING MOMENT for Alex Ovechkin. He needs to STEP UP and be a GAME-CHANGER. If he’s really the greatest goal-scorer of his generation, he needs to PROVE IT.

Hands up if you’ve heard something along those lines the past couple of days.

Perhaps on PHT!

Over to Ovechkin’s teammate, Joel Ward, with the rebuttal.

“People talk and debate about it. I get it. I’m just trying to tell you: Hockey’s not that game,” Ward said, per the Washington Post. “People don’t understand, the sport of hockey is a different beast compared to other sports. You can’t just throw that deep ball in the corner, and it’s up to you to just go and grab it. Things happen. You make a pass, it banks off the boards differently, it goes off a guy’s skate, bounces over there. There’s a lot of variables that go into it. … Hockey is the ultimate beast, man. It’s a crazy sport.”

Indeed it is. Here’s how author Michael J. Mauboussin ranks the randomness of hockey compared to other sports:



This isn’t to make excuses for Ovechkin before the game is even played. He obviously needs to play well.

But even if he plays well and does all the right things, he might not score and the Capitals might not win. That’s just the reality of the game. Especially these days. It’s why you hear stuff like this from the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh:

And it’s why coaches focus on process over results. The process can be controlled. The results, for the most part, can’t.

“Obviously we’d like to score and produce out there,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “I think we had some good looks last game that we should have put in. But we’ve just got to keep working hard and play the right way and hopefully it will help us.”



Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight

The New York rangers play the Washington Capitals

The second round concludes tonight with Game 7 from Madison Square Garden…

Capitals at Rangers, 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The New York Rangers have won five straight Game 7s including last spring when they rallied from a 3-1 deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers have also won two straight Game 7s against the Caps (2012 and 2013).

In 2013 New York recovered from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to beat Washington in Game 7.

Henrik Lundqvist is 5-0 with a 0.80 goals-against average and a .973 save percentage in his last five Game 7 appearances.

Washington is 0-4 in previous series which they’ve led 3-1 and needed a Game 7.

Tonight marks the ninth time in 11 playoff series since Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green made their playoff debuts in 2008 that that the Caps have gone to a Game 7. Washington is 3-5 in the previous eight Game 7s.

Liam McHugh, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones get the coverage started with NHL Live at 7:00 p.m. ET. Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire have the call of Game 7 from MSG.

Caps facing arguably the biggest game in franchise history

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals - Game Six

It may not be fair, but we all know what the narrative will be if the Washington Capitals lose Wednesday in New York.

Same old Caps. Can’t win the big game. We thought it was different this time. But it’s not.

Head coach Barry Trotz is hoping his team’s near comeback in Game 6 is proof that narrative can be avoided.

“I thought we had a lot of resiliency to fight back,” Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “I know this team has got a lot of character they showed during the year. Probably not the path when you’re up 3-1 that you want to take, but at the same time it’s a great opportunity in Game 7 to find out, I know this team very, very well, and it’s got a tremendous amount of character.”

The Caps have already come up big once in these playoffs, suffocating a dangerous Islanders team in Game 7 of the first round.

But that was at home. This one’s on the road, in “the lion’s den,” as Trotz puts it. The same rink, Madison Square Garden, where on Friday the Caps came 101 seconds from clinching their first trip to the conference finals since 1998.

You could make the argument that Wednesday will be the biggest game in Washington’s franchise history. You’d have some competition there, but you could put forth a few good reasons.

At the top of the list would be the opportunity for the Caps, should they beat the Rangers. Neither Montreal nor Tampa Bay, whoever comes out of that series, has looked entirely dominant in the playoffs. Beat the Habs or Lightning and it’s the Ducks or Blackhawks in the final. Two very good teams, yes, but beatable for sure.

There are 30 teams in the NHL. The league’s landscape changes by the year. These opportunities don’t come around all the time.

What’s more, this is not a particularly young Caps roster we’re talking about. Alex Ovechkin is nearly 30. This isn’t like, say, 2008-09 when Washington got bounced in the second round and it wasn’t the end of the world because he was only 23. Back then, Nicklas Backstrom was still just 21.

Since then, the Caps have only come close to escaping the second round once — in 2012, when they lost a Game 7 to the Rangers. At MSG.

“It’s disappointing,” Braden Holtby said then. “We really did believe in here that we had the team to do it all. We gave ourselves a great chance.”

The Caps have another “great chance” Wednesday. Whether they can take advantage remains to be seen.

Related: Messier moment? Ovechkin: ‘We’re going to come back and win the series’

Rangers survive Caps’ mad rush, force Game 7

Brooks Orpik, Dan Boyle

The New York Rangers managed a 4-3 win to force a Game 7 against the Washington Capitals, but not after the kind of finish that likely left fans hyperventilating.

In a way, quick plot twists only seem to fit the ending considering the beginning of Game 6 … and really, this skin-tight series in general.

Chris Kreider didn’t just begin the scoring with a goal 40 seconds in; he barely beat the clock with a 2-0 goal that came with .3 seconds remaining in the first period.

The Capitals dominated the second period, generating an 18-4 shot advantage. They only were able to beat Henrik Lundqvist once, however, and entered the final frame down 2-1.

The theme of quick goals continued as Rick Nash made it 3-1 just 54 seconds into the third (Jason Chimera’s goal came less than 30 seconds into the second period, giving the opening minute of each period a tally).

Dan Boyle’s 4-1 tally seemed like it would make this game a laugher … instead, it eventually stood as the game-winner.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Joel Ward combined for two goals in less than three minutes to make things very tense in the final 10 minutes or so. That line with Jason Chimera might be a trio to watch, as Barry Trotz took Ward off of a line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

Ovechkin’s line failed to score a point for the fourth consecutive game, even if he created some havoc, including this dangerous chance and big hit on Ryan McDonagh:

The bottom line is that many won’t give Ovechkin & Co. the benefit of the doubt, even in a series where goals were hard to come by (at least until tonight) and Washington enjoyed significant luck in building what was once a 3-1 series lead in the first place.

These Capitals and Rangers series have been tight since it’s been Ovechkin vs. Lundqvist (who was stellar tonight), so it all seems fitting that this one is going the distance. With Washington’s dignity and the Rangers’ outstanding season on the line, the stakes will certainly be high at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Chimera on Ovechkin: ‘I have no doubt he’s going to score a big goal’

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers

The Washington Capitals haven’t been getting point production from their big top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Joel Ward lately, but the company line seems to be “it’s just a matter of time.”

Jason Chimera more or less predicted a big goal for Ovechkin while speaking with the Washington Post about Game 6 on Saturday.

“You can’t keep a guy like that down too long,” Chimera said. “He’s got his looks, he’s playing hard, you’re not going to stop him. You can limit his looks but he’s going to get those looks and they’re going to go in eventually tomorrow. I have no doubt he’s going to score a big goal tomorrow.”

The attempts have been there, at least to an extent. Ovechkin has 11 shots on goal in this three-game drought, although only two came in Game 5.

Backstrom’s only had two SOG in this span (all in Game 5), yet that isn’t overly concerning considering his role as a passer. Joel Ward hasn’t been shy to shoot (nine SOG in three games, including five in the past one).

It all gives at least some credence to the belief that the Caps’ first line is getting its looks.

Actually, the real company lines are “you need everyone to step up” (Barry Trotz to the Post) and “we don’t care where the offense comes from” (Brooks Orpik to the Post).

That said, considering how tight this series has been, a breakthrough from Ovechkin – Backstrom – Ward could be enough to punch a ticket to the Eastern Conference finals.