Joined: 27 Apr 2018
|Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:14 am Post subject: on deck.”
|As checkered playoff histories go Deion Sanders Jersey Youth , the Washington Capitals haven’t been around nearly as long as some NHL teams. The track record was still long and sad.
There was Pat Lafontaine of the Islanders beating them in the four-overtime ”Easter Epic” back in 1987. Esa Tikkanen missing a wide-open net in the Stanley Cup Final loss to Detroit in 1998.
Heck, losing nine of 11 postseason meetings against the Pittsburgh Penguins alone is filled to the brim with gut-wrenching letdowns.
The puck finally bounced the right way for the Capitals, who built a 3-1 lead in the Final against Vegas after some rare postseason fortune and wrapped it up Thursday night in Game 5. Lars Eller’s double-overtime winner off his right skate kept his team out of a 3-0 hole in the first round. Then came a cathartic, six-game elimination of the Penguins behind a patchwork lineup full of rookies.
Against the Golden Knights, Braden Holtby made the stick save of a lifetime to lock up a Game 2 win and opponent James Neal clanked a shot off the post in Game 4, staring at as much net as Tikkanen had 20 years ago.
It’s as though all the bad breaks from the previous 42 seasons of Washington Capitals hockey are being erased – or at least somewhat forgotten – in a run that could deliver the franchise’s first title.
”It’s like the franchise was star-struck,” said David Poile, who was Washington’s general manager from 1982-1995.
”They’ve had all these really good teams, all of these opportunities that appeared that this could be the year that they could win playoff rounds and compete for the Cup or win the Stanley Cup. … It just feels like – as Barry Trotz would say – the hockey gods have evened things out.”
Before this spring, the Capitals had made it past the second round of the playoffs just twice and reached the final once, when Tikkanen and Co. were swept by the Red Wings. Abe and Irene Pollin, the longtime owners of the Capitals and NBA’s Bullets/Wizards, had to learn how to handle losing.
”My husband and I had developed a habit of when we lost, we would go to eat frozen custard to help us deal with the loss,” Irene Pollin recalled.
There were a lot of chances for custard: Teams leading 3-1 in a best-of-seven series have won 91 percent of the time (276-2. Of those 28, the Capitals have blown such a lead five times – the most of any team. There was no such falloff this time.
Winning just one game against the expansion Golden Knights already made this the most successful season in the history of a franchise that began in 1974-75. It was Deion Sanders Jersey , by the way, the worst first-year team in NHL history (8-67-5) that developed into a team known for postseason failures – which only worsened in the Alex Ovechkin era.
For many of the players who have been through it all, the strong showing against Vegas was long overdue.
”I’m part of history. I’m part of not winning a Cup here for a long time,” said longtime scoring winger Peter Bondra, who played for the Capitals from 1990-2004.
”I don’t even play, but I feel like a part of this team, believe it or not. It’s just something in it. Obviously, I play here for 14 years, I grew up here with the team as a player, my family grew up here.”
After missing the playoffs in their first eight seasons, there was a ”Save the Caps” campaign in 1982 just to keep them around and in Washington.
”We couldn’t sell tickets,” said Irene Pollin, now 93. ”We went to Montreal to fight for the franchise, So for three days and three nights we were up and I was in a nightgown typing letters to the president and everybody to have them send letters to the league because they kept saying, `Washington is a southern city, it’ll never be a hockey town.”’
Abe Pollin that summer hired Poile as his general manager. When the 33-year-old executive asked for a three-year contract Connor Williams Jersey Elite , Pollin agreed but only after telling Poile he’d better do well in the first season or the franchise might fold.
Less than two weeks later, Poile changed the course of the franchise by acquiring eventual Hall of Fame defenseman Rod Langway. Washington made the playoffs in all 13 seasons with Poile in charge but couldn’t break through.
”We had to play against some of the great teams ever in the NHL: We had to go against the Islanders who won four straight, the Rangers were always on the border, Pittsburgh when Mario (Lemieux) came in,” said Langway, who played 11 seasons for the Capitals. ”We challenged them, we competed with them, but we couldn’t get over the hump.”
That became the Capitals’ unwelcome hallmark. Plenty of times an improbable play ended a promising run, whether it was the Rangers’ Pierre Larouche beating Pete Peeters from a sharp angle in 1986 or Lafontaine’s shot through traffic for the Game 7 winner a year later early on Easter morning at the Capital Centre in nearby Landover, Maryland.
”To me, that is sort of what happened, the epitome of what has happened to this franchise,” said winger-turned-broadcaster Craig Laughlin, who came to Washington in the Langway trade and never left. ”We didn’t get those type of bounces. It seemed like every other team did but we didn’t.”
That continued to Tikkanen in 1998 and into the ”Rock the Red” era with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. They lost in overtime of Game 7 in 2008 on a Flyers power play, in 2009 on home ice when the Penguins blew them out, in 2010 when Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak stopped 41 of 42 shots in Game 7 Kyle Long Jersey Youth , in 201 The Denver Nuggets have stopped scoreboard watching and suddenly started winning.
A novel concept, with coach Michael Malone posting the standings on the board for basically the last time after a loss in Toronto. Since then, they’ve won four straight to make things interesting down the stretch.
Jamal Murray had 22 points to lead six Denver players in double figures, Nikola Jokic sealed the game with a late tip-in and the Nuggets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-96 on Thursday night in a pivotal matchup between teams vying for a playoff spot.
The victory moved Denver (44-35) into a tie, record-wise, with Minnesota for the eighth spot with three games remaining. Both are a half-game behind New Orleans.
”Prior to the winning streak, I think we were (looking at the standings) and putting too much pressure on ourselves,” Paul Millsap said. ”We’re just back to ourselves and playing basketball. On nights we’re not shooting well, we’re still playing and still having fun.”
Jokic finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while reserve Devin Harris added 20 points for the Nuggets. The playoff jockeying between these two teams could go down to the wire with Minnesota hosting Denver in the regular season finale Wednesday.
”We knew this was a big one coming in,” Denver’s Mason Plumlee said. ”But as big as this is, we have to forget about it.”
Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds before fouling out with 1:46 remaining.
Up 98-96 with 6.6 seconds left, Will Barton took a shot that bounced off the rim and in Jokic’s direction, and he batted it in with 4.3 seconds on the clock to wrap up the win. Jokic was an uncharacteristic 6 of 20 from the field.
”Joker couldn’t make a shot to save his life,” Murray joked. ”Comes in and gets a tip-in. That’s what he does. That’s who he is, man.”
Minnesota had a familiar face available and sitting on the bench in Jimmy Butler Joe Namath Jersey Youth , but he didn’t get into the game. Butler has been out since suffering a right knee injury on Feb. 23 at Houston. The Wolves are 8-9 since Butler was sidelined.
”So just taking everything into consideration, we just thought it was best to wait another day,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said.
This game featured quite a showdown between two elite big men in Towns and Jokic. They pushed and shoved each other around before Towns fouled out with 1:46 remaining while trying to cover Murray on the perimeter.
”You want to be out there, you want to be helping the team,” Towns said. ”You just got to find ways to win regardless of the situation.”
No time for looking back, though.
”We can’t take back what happened tonight,” Towns said. ”There’s no time to weep.”
Timberwolves: G Jeff Teague (knee) was back after missing a game and scored 15 points. Derrick Rose (ankle) had four. … Towns earned his 65th double-double of the season.
Nuggets: G Gary Harris missed a 10th straight game with a strained right knee. ”Longer than I think anybody anticipated,” Malone said. ”Just not where it needs to be for him to come back.” … Jokic had nine assists.
Towns momentarily stayed down early in the third after taking an elbow to the face from Millsap. Towns remained in the game.
Moments later, Murray took an accidental hand to the face from Towns while trying to grab a rebound. Murray hit the floor before slowly getting back up.
NOT BUYING IT
In his pregame chat, Malone said he didn’t buy that Butler would sit out despite being listed as doubtful.
”Believe that if you want,” Malone said. ”I got a bridge to sell you.”
Water under the bridge – Butler didn’t play.
HARRIS TO THE RESCUE
Denver caught fire late in the third behind the shooting of Harris, who had nine points to help the team close out the quarter on an 11-0 run.
”It was my night to make shots,” Harris said. ”It’s going to be somebody else’s the next night. Going into this playoff push, it’s got to be all hand’s on deck.”
Timberwolves: Travel to Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Friday.
Nuggets: Denver plays two of its final three games on the road, including Saturday in Los Angeles against the Clippers.