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The Caps Deserve a Better Fate!

By Rodger M. Wood

The Caps deserve a better fate than losing the seventh game of the semi-finals to the New York Rangers in overtime last night 2-1 and losing their opportunity to be the winners of the 2015 Stanley Cup.

I always thought the winners of the Washington Capitols/New York Rangers series would go onto win the Cup, although I hope now that the Chicago Black Hawks will win the West, prove a worthy opponent for New York, and hopefully pin their ears back.

The Caps got the shaft in the 5th game when the referees disallowed Joel Ward’s goal. Lundquist was out of the net, Ward was bumped into him, and I think the referees were unduly influenced by the Broadway attraction of a New York national Stanley Cup series. It is the first time and probably the only time the Caps lost a playoff game 2-2 in overtime and a resulting opportunity to move onto the Conference finals against Tampa well rested.

I don’t buy NBC Keith Jones’ argument after the game that the refs disallowing the goal was fair play, allowing the Rangers to settle the series on the field of honor next game.

Washington played hard with a lot of heart, made plays I never saw a Capitals team make before in the 41 years I have been following them, e.g. winning goal with 1.5 seconds to go, Ovie great goal splitting two HOF defensemen and scoring on a HOF goaltender, Holtby stopping shots like Islanders great goalie Billy Smith in the 1980s, and the Caps forwards and defensemen blocking shots in droves like never before.

It was a pleasure to see the Caps play tough and hard like never before, they have a good coaching staff in Barry Trotz and his assistants, and Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky are all youngsters who developed in the playoffs and are coming back to rejuvenate the Caps veterans next season.

Hopefully, Mike Green will be re-signed and the rest of the hard core Caps defensive corp, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik, Karl Alzner, Matt Niskanen, and Tim Gleason, backed up by a healthy Dmitri Orlov and a seasoned Nate Schmidt will be ready to provide an even tougher defense than they did this season.

Ovie is Ovie, a true superstar with lots of heart in the prime of his career and he will stay great. Backstrom will provide the creativity, Ward the brawn and clutch goals, the killer B-line, Jay Beagle, Troy Brouwer, and Andre Burakovsky will continue to buzz around opposing players, and Marcus Johansen, and Jason Chimera will continue to fly down the ice.

I hope the 2016 Washington Capitals will be like my 1967 Detroit Tigers, who lost the American League pennant on the last Sunday of the season to the Boston Red Sox, but learned from the experience, got fired up to go on in 1968 to win the American League pennant by eleven games, and then come back to beat HOFer RHP Bob Gibson twice and the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games to win the 1968 World Series.

Keep your chin up our Ovie and the Caps, use this year’s experience to build in advance for next year.when I think the Caps rough experience will drive us to win the Stanley Cup.

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Caps Batter Islanders 2-1 in Game 7 Win

by Rodger Wood

Tied 3 games to 3 games, the Washington Capitals came into Game 7 of the 2015 quarterfinal playoff series ready to batter and bruise a physically smaller, 13 players depleted (including veteran defensemen Travis Harmonic, Calvin deHaan, and Lubomir Visnovsky) tired New York Islanders hockey team.

While the Islanders hung in the game for 60 minutes, actually fighting back with lots of heart, 54 hits to the Capitals 46, they just couldn’t stand off a Capitals team whose rookies and veterans, with only Eric Fehr an exception, were on the bench ready to play another tough hockey game.

Caps first year players, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Michael Latta and Tom Wilson played critical roles throughout the series – Kuznetsov played 17:45 minutes and scored the 7th game winner at 7:18 point of 3rd Period, while scoring two other tallies in the Caps Game 5 5-1 win.

Tom Wilson’s hit on Lubomir Visnovsky in Game 4 took the Islanders veteran defenseman out of commission for the remainder of the series and with Calvin de Haan injured in Game 6 depleted the Islanders down to four healthy defensemen requiring them to suit up a couple rookies, Scott Mayfield and Matt Donovan in Game 6 at Nassau Coliseum and the final Game 7 at the Verizon Center.

The Caps defense stifled the Islanders limiting them to just ten shots and Orpik and Ovie were awesome hitting any one who dared to come on their turf 7 times each.

The Caps matched the Islanders blocked shot for blocked shot, both teams blocking a total of 20 shots each.

Enough can’t be said about the Caps coaching and team play in this series. Barry Trotz and coaching staff had the team prepared, changed tactics game by game, and kept their cool on the bench stabilizing a team during some tough moments, like the loss 15 seconds into overtime 2-1 Game 4 and the late 3rd Period goal winning Game 6. It was a world of difference having a veteran coaching staff behind the bench this series.

The playoffs are far from over, but this is a new Capitals’ team who can play the game. And at least for now, those fans who were at the old Capital Centre on April 18-19, 1987 can get some satisfaction having seen their team show the obnoxious Islanders’ fans the exit gate at old Nassau Coliseum for the last time, and revenging that terrible, terrible loss on that date in the fourth overtime period of another Game 7.

I’ll never forgive Larry Murphy for making that bad pass out from the corner of Caps defensive zone right onto the stick of the opposing Islanders Pat Lafontaine.who scored the winning goal at the 8:42 mark of the fourth overtime period but what goes around, comes around. At least now I can get my proper sleep at night having seen the Caps overcome that loss.