PITTSBURGH — After a stately sighs of relief, a locker-room cheers and a occasional abuse word, a Washington Capitals packaged their apparatus into bags, a start of a routine for that a authorization has been watchful 20 years: scheming for a Eastern Conference finals.
The second turn of a Stanley Cup playoffs has been a roadblock for many of a register — only Brooks Orpik, Lars Eller and Matt Niskanen have ever gotten this distant in a postseason before — and while Monday night’s array win over a Pittsburgh Penguins was means for celebration, a Capitals also wanted to say perspective. Yes, this organisation has already achieved some-more than any other Washington bar in new memory. No, it’s not prepared to be finished yet.
“As a group, we wanted to give a city more, though some-more doesn’t meant a discussion final. More is a Stanley Cup,” goaltender Braden Holtby said.
“The idea isn’t to get past a second round,” core Jay Beagle said. “The idea is a Stanley Cup. That’s always been a idea given we’ve been here. It’s a good feeling. Obviously, we’ll suffer it. But we’re median there. Now we have a large pursuit brazen of us here with Tampa.”
Washington’s branch indicate this deteriorate came in a late Nov diversion opposite a Lightning. The Capitals were disorder around Thanksgiving, customarily a time of year a postseason margin starts to crystallize. They faced a severe back-to-back set of games opposite Tampa Bay and afterwards Toronto, dual of a league’s best teams this season. They won both to hint a widespread Dec stretch, 11 wins in 13 games. The Lightning finished a deteriorate as a Eastern Conference’s best team, and Washington hasn’t played Tampa Bay given some marquee trade-deadline additions strengthened an already-deep roster.
The Lightning acquired Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and brazen J.T. Miller in a blockbuster understanding that bolstered a luminary core with captain Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, who scored 39 goals and 61 assists to finish third in a NHL in scoring. Young forwards Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde also finished with some-more than 60 points. Defenseman Victor Hedman is a finalist for a Norris Trophy after he scored 17 goals with 46 assists in 77 games. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy had 8 shutouts and 44 wins this season, a finalist for a Vezina Trophy. After Tampa Bay missed a postseason a year ago, a organisation won a initial dual array in 5 games while scoring 3.50 goals per diversion and permitting only 2.50.
“They’re a good team,” Holtby said. “There’s a lot of good teams in a joining right now. You’re not going to have any easy matchup. The subsequent integrate days we take to come adult with a diversion devise opposite them, do your research. It’s unequivocally only going to come down to us executing a same approach we did.”
Washington’s lineup will advantage from a lapse of brazen Tom Wilson after he served a three-game cessation for an bootleg check to a conduct of Penguins brazen Zach Aston-Reese. Wilson is approaching to container behind into his top-line right wing purpose beside Alex Ovechkin and core Evgeny Kuznetsov. Left wing Andre Burakovsky has been skating on his possess a past week, though it’s misleading how tighten he is to personification again after he indispensable medicine for an “upper-body” damage that’s caused him to skip 10 playoff games. Center Nicklas Backstrom didn’t play in Monday’s series-clinching Game 6, and he was seen nearing to PPG Paints Arena with a hang around his right hand. He blocked a shot with that palm in Game 5, and while Coach Barry Trotz pronounced Backstrom attempted to play Monday night, his standing for a discussion final is questionable. The organisation pronounced he’s “day-to-day.”
“I’m only going to digest this right now,” Trotz pronounced when asked about Backstrom on Monday night. “I’m substantially going to have a cold one, or two.”
Beagle concurred that a Capitals would take a night to celebrate. Kuznetsov, who scored a overtime game-winning goal, suspicion he competence have difficulty sleeping after a game. When Washington modernized to a second turn with a Game-6 win in Columbus, Ovechkin immediately voiced his fad about personification a fortifying Stanley Cup champion Penguins. “I can’t wait,” he said.
He echoed a same view as he stood in front of his locker room case on Monday night, mins after a many poignant win of his career. He was smiling with fun over a moment. He was already meditative ahead.
“I can't wait to go in a subsequent diversion and get prepared for Tampa,” Ovechkin said.