Congratulations to the Washington Capitals for winning their first series and advancing to the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's their first series win since 'the 97-'98 season. They came back from 0-2 and then 1-3 in the series to tie it up with the New York Rangers, and then beat them in game seven, 2-1. Rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov and wily veteran Sergei Fedorov played key roles in this game, Varlamov with fourteen saves (and "allowing just seven goals in his six games") and Fedorov scoring the game-winning and series-winning goal. Yeah, the Caps were seeded 2nd and the Rangers were 7th, but that doesn't matter much when you're down in the series.
Next up is the Caps' perennial nemesis, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Matching up the two young stars of the NHL, the Caps' Alexander Ovechkin versus the Pens' Sidney Crosby, should make for a good show. Here's hoping.
If you've missed the human highlight reel that is Alexander Ovechkin, here's one of his best goals, from game five of the series. You'll see that the Rangers had just been pressing hard on the other end:
I don't think I've ever seen moves like that from a hockey player. It's like he's dribbling through defenders in basketball or soccer, but doing it on skates. Three of his other best goals can be seen here.
It's also nice to see the Chicago Blackhawks back in the playoffs, and winning their first series, too.
The Penguins are dangerous, and the Caps are still a young team overall, but we'll see how far they can go this playoff season.
(Cross-posted at Blue Herald)