NEW YORK – Derick Brassard felt terrible.
The New York Rangers forward tried to slow down Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals with a little good ol’ fashioned interference, which is a bit like trying to lasso a freight train. The referees caught Brassard and sent him to the penalty box at 3:57 of the third period, giving the Capitals’ high-octane power play their first chance of Saturday afternoon’s Game 2, trailing 2-1.
“I was feeling not very good, actually,” said Brassard. “But I was confident in our penalty kill. And when I came out of the penalty box I had some jump, had some energy."
When he emerged from the penalty box, he transitioned to offense. Martin St. Louis confidently slipped a pass from the top of the Capitals’ zone through the outreached sticks of Jay Beagle and Matt Niskanen to Brassard, who quickly slammed the puck through the pads of Braden Holtby for his fourth of the playoffs and the eventual game-winner in their 3-2 victory in Game 2 of the Metro Division championship series.
“Got a lucky bounce, and it went in,” he said of the goal, scored 10 seconds after his penalty ended.
It wasn't a strong start for the Caps.
Alex Ovechkin was overheard saying “all series, baby … all series” to New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, right after scoring a brilliant goal against him in the Washington Capitals’ Game 1 win.
In Game 2 on Saturday, Ovechkin made you believe it might not be an empty promise.
Ovechkin scored another classic at Madison Square Garden as the Capitals trailed 3-1. He tried to split defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi – two players credited through the years for having effectively shut him down in previous battles.
He fell to the ice, but managed to get a shot off.
GIF: holy Ovi pic.twitter.com/BwUGdRCS7Z
Which, of course, ended up being a perfectly placed shot over the right shoulder of Lundqvist into the top corner of the net.
You know, no big deal.
It was Ovechkin’s fourth goal of the playoffs in nine games. Here's what he did in Game 1:
“I get lucky,” Ovechkin said after Game 1. “It was kind of hard angle, but sometimes luck step on our side.”
Alex Ovechkin has 475 career goals, three Hart Trophies and four goal-scoring titles during his NHL career. What he doesn’t have: an appearance in the Eastern Conference Final, let alone a Stanley Cup ring.
His career has been as characterized by his incredible regular-season performances as it has been by the Washington Capitals’ playoff failures. It’s not for a lack of production by Ovechkin, who now has 68 points in 66 career playoff games, including 34 goals.
It’s not for a lack of desire, either … although that desire can sometimes hurt more than help.
Ovechkin tried to do too much on his own in the past. Tried to take the team on his broad shoulders and carry it. Tried to force the issue in tight games, leading to ineffective performances in their many Game 7s.
Meanwhile, he played for three different coaches in a short span; by the time Adam Oates reached his end with a non-playoff year, Ovechkin sounded like he was at his wit’s end after a minus-35 season with 51 goals.
Ovechkin had been making noise for the last few years about not wanting to be THE GUY in the playoffs. That he’d rather be a team player in the postseason rather than a one-man show.
If you’re going to ask someone to prom, you either go big or you go sit at home watching “She’s All That” while occasionally staring at that corsage while eating a pint of Chubby Hubby and I wish you would really stop judging me…
Sorry, I digress: You either go big, or you go home, which is why this young prom-goer unleashed a bed sheet-sized collection of Chicago Blackhawks player name puns on his potential date.
Extra credit for avoiding the obvious “get your nails and Toews done.”
We'll assume, based on the evidence, that she said "yes." No word if they're the Marian types. (Joke shamelessly stolen.)
Thus continues the odd relationship between the Blackhawks and prom. Please recall Andrew High School student Sydney Gountounas asking Andrew Shaw to prom, who politely responded, "I think I'm a little too old for prom.”
Which we assume made her Saad.
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY
It’s the Montreal Canadiens (50-22-10, 110 points) vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning (50-24-8, 108 points) for the Atlantic Division championship!
Here are 12 things to anticipate in this Stanley Cup Playoff series …
1. WHO IS THE UNDERDOG!?
In perhaps the most tepid controversy of the 2015 postseason, the teams have been debating over whom the real underdog is. "We're probably the only team in the playoffs with home-ice advantage that's the underdog," said Michel Therrien. The Lightning disagree, citing home ice advantage, and thus the modern day Lincoln–Douglas debates commence.
2. Home Ice
Tampa was 32-8-1 at home during the regular season and just won a Game 7 on home ice. Montreal was 26-9-6 at home during the regular season and won the first two games of Round 1 at Bell Centre. However, the Bolts have won five straight in Montreal.
3. Carey Price vs. The Lightning
Price played five games against the Lightning. He went 0-4-1 against them with a 3.47 GAA and a .906 save percentage. Cause for concern? Well, he was 1-1-2 against them in 2012-13 with a 1.42 GAA and a .956 save percentage, so maybe not. Or possibly. Who knows! That’s why it’s called a “preview.”
GIF: Sweet Fancy Moses what a goal pic.twitter.com/pNKYKUsFQ9
Steve Moses was the leading scorer in the Kontinental Hockey League this season, a brilliantly fast but undersized (5-9, 172) forward. He signed with the Nashville Predators in April, who made a big deal out of it.
Looking at the goal he scored at the IIHF world championships on Friday against Finland, one can see why.
Moses kicked the puck from his back skate to his stick after a pass from Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins; motored past Jyrki Jokipokka and then roofed the puck over a baffled Pekka Rinne, which should lead to an interesting conversation when the two see each other at Predators camp this fall.
One of us was perfect. A few one us got around six series right. One of us picked the Jets.
But those were the first-round picks. These are the second-round picks! And here we go, picking the winners in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ division championships.
Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy Editor
Capitals in 7
Lightning in 6
Yeah, I’m buying in on the Capitals, much to both of our inevitable chagrins. You could feel the calm and confidence of this group against the Islanders, which are two things not synonymous with the Playoff Caps. The series comes down to their ability to create offensively against the deepest defense in the NHL. Says here that the Capitals offensive depth beyond Ovechkin is enough to win the one-goal games that’ll probably characterize this series. Caps in seven. Because now they win Game 7s.
Wild in 7
Ducks in 5
Sean Leahy, Puck Daddy Editor
Rangers in 6
Lightning in 7
Blackhawks in 7
Ducks in 6
Josh Cooper, Puck Daddy Editor
Capitals in 7
Canadiens in 7
Wild in 6
Ducks in 5
Jen Neale, Puck Daddy Writer
Capitals in 7
Montreal in 6
In case you blinked and missed it, the St. Louis Blues were eliminated from the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round by the Minnesota Wild.
Which means they will not win the 2015 Stanley Cup. Which means our friend Mike has made a very, very terrible life choice.
Mike was the winner of a contest on The Rizzuto Show on 105.7 FM The Point that asked Blues fans what they’d do to win a free St. Louis tattoo. His answer – “I would let the team bang my wife” – won both the radio contest and the 2015 Classiest Man Alive Award.
(Plus, doesn’t it really all depend on when this activity takes place? For example, if it’s scheduled for May or June, the Blues won’t even show up…)
So Mike went to Big Dave’s The Ink Spot in Troy, Missouri, and received his prize: a 2015 St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup Champions tattoo. Which emphatically refutes the theory that those words would reject each other like a bad organ transplant if ever in close proximity.
On the minus side: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA OMG HA HA HA HA HA HA HA WOW.
It's a Thursday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:
Special Guest Stars: Josh Cooper of Puck Daddy breaks down Round 2.
• Game 7 between the Bolts and Wings.
• Some lady tried to burn the arena down.
• More coach and GM speculation!
• Hockey News and Views
Question of the Day: Give us your stone cold lock for Round 2. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!
Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins on Thursday night. How’s your bracket?
(The less said about mine the better, says the guy who will not be attending a Stanley Cup parade in St. Louis this June …)
There are a few people who did quite well in picking ye olde brackets for Round 1 – our own Darryl Dobbs went 8-0 in the first round, while others only got to six wins – but picking the series winners with the correct number of games is a whole different barrel of pickles.
How hard was it this postseason?
Welp … more than 800,000 brackets were created on NHL.com for the first round of the playoffs.
Exactly zero of them were perfect brackets.
From the NHL:
Wonder which series tripped up the most people?