Capitals bring us into the interaction between T.J. Oshie and his dad following Stanley Cup win

Following the Capitals Stanley Cup-clinching win on Thursday, T.J. Oshie brought up his father’s battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, saying “he doesn’t remember a lot of stuff these days” but seeing Oshie win the Cup “will stick with him forever.”

The moment carried enough weight on its own. You could see how much it meant for Oshie to win the Stanley Cup with his father watching amidst his battle with the cruel disease that is Alzheimer’s.

The Capitals brought fans even closer with the video they released on Sunday, showing sound of Oshie and his dad on the ice following the game. Good luck holding it together.

Just an incredible moment. The parents play such a big role in the life of a young hockey player. It’s up to them to provide the support, from the financial (hockey is a very expensive sport to play) to the emotional (hockey can be a tough, unforgiving game). Without that, it’s hard to make it. That’s why these moments between players and their parents are my favorite piece of post-Stanley Cup content. Because when you play, your parents pour as much of their heart and soul into it as you do. Obviously what Oshie’s dad is going through just brings it to another level.

The video shows a moment between Ovechkin and his family, as well.

Everything about this video is great. The Capitals did a great job demonstrating how much this team, this title meant to Washington. Basically a seven-minute long oral history in video form. From the fan reaction, to Barry Trotz in the locker room, to in-game stuff, to post-game stuff. No easy task to put that all together into a few minutes and tell the complete story.

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The Capitals had a good time with the Stanley Cup this weekend

For those of you that spent the weekend doing things like enjoying the summer rather than wasting your life on the internet, you might not have seen the scenes in Washington in the aftermath of the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup.

The scenes were pretty wild. Stuff you tend to see when a team wins the Stanley Cup, just ramped up a few miles per hour.

Here’s a tweet from Jeremy Roenick to give you all an idea:

Anyway, it all began on Saturday, Nationals hosting the Giants at noon. The Nats had a pregame ceremony for the Caps, which teams tend to do nowadays when a franchise in the same city wins a title.

Out to throw out the first pitch was the man himself, Alex Ovechkin, with the Cup right behind him at the back end of the mound.

Any and all rumors of Ovechkin potentially joining the Nationals as they look to become the next Washington team to erase years of disappointment with a title (a la LeBron to the Browns) were quelled in short order.

The get gets underway and here comes scenes from during the game, like this guy right here. You wonder why people get hit by balls so often.

The Nationals went on to win 7-5 as they continue to race neck-and-neck with the upstart Braves in the NL East.

Oh jeez, look at these idio– wait, actually, it’s the Capitals.

Eventually, everyone joins in.

Casual sports fans may not completely understand what makes the Stanley Cup the greatest trophy in sports. It’s the way it brings cities, communities, regions together unlike anything else in sports. That’s not to take away from a World Series, a Super Bowl, a NBA title, or anything else, but a Stanley Cup is just on another level. Between the emotion and excitement that hockey brings out in people, the legacy and heritage behind that trophy, and the relatable, everyman persona hockey players tend to have, winning the Stanley Cup creates a vibe that can’t be matched.

Like this right here. Ovechkin carrying the Cup down the sidewalk in Georgetown. He’s followed by a mob of fans trying to get a snap of the trophy.

There’s more. Here’s T.J. Oshie letting fans get their closeup with the Cup.

The Stanley Cup made a couple more friends on Saturday as well.

If you still need to be sold on how big a deal this is for Washington, there’s a Stanley Cup tracker compiling the Cup’s every move. Pretty unbelievable.

Fortunately, the Cup (and Ovechkin) made it home safely. Probably not the worst night sleep Ovi has had. He’ll need to rest up for the parade on Tuesday, which I’m sure won’t disappoint.

Jay Beagle stands alone as a Stanley Cup, Calder Cup, and Kelly Cup champion

The Jay Beagle story is a great one. Undrafted out of college, he paved himself a path to the NHL and has stuck in the league for the better part of eight years. The 32-year-old is set to be an unrestricted free agent, and he should get a decent sum of money from some team, be it the Capitals or someone else.

When you watch him play, it makes sense why he’s won a title in the ECHL, AHL, and NHL. That’s the type of player Beagle is. A solid, hard-nosed depth guy that you need. He played that role to a tee on Washington’s fourth line this postseason between Chandler Stephenson and Devante Smith-Pelly.

These are the type of stories that make the Stanley Cup and the game of hockey so special. Everyone has a unique story, a unique path of how they got there. Guys like Beagle are what really makes it special given all the dues he had to pay to reach this point.

Does a Cup change the conversation surrounding Ovechkin? You bet it does

I get what Steve Simmons is getting at here, and I don’t totally disagree. If Alex Ovechkin isn’t the greatest goal scorer in NHL history, he’s one of the best ever. A title doesn’t change anything there.

But you’re lying if you don’t think a Stanley Cup doesn’t add to his legacy. Especially when it’s Ovechkin that has arguably been the Capitals’ best player during this run. He’s led the way here, and will most likely win the Conn Smythe if Washington finishes off Vegas here.

Yes, Evgeny Kuznetsov has been great. The Capitals have played great team hockey (which literally every team that has ever won the Stanley Cup has done). Ovechkin has led the way for this team. He’s done everything for Washington on this run.

Have people dropped the labels of Ovechkin being just a goal scorer, being a guy that can’t get it done in the playoffs, and so on? Yes. But him having this run to add to his resume in the discussion for the greatest goal scorer ever with Mike Bossy, Brett Hull, Bobby Hull, Phil Esposito, and Maurice Richard goes a long way.

Capitals offense has been historically good this postseason

Much of the credit for this Capitals run – which currently has them one win shy of their first Stanley Cup – has gone to their smothering defense, physicality, and clogging the middle to ice, stifling the transition game of opponents.

While those factors have played a huge role in the Caps success this postseason, don’t let that make you think Washington’s identity as an offensive juggernaut – an identity they’ve carried during the Alex Ovechkin era – has gone away. In fact, it’s as real as ever.

Nobody knows this better than Marc-Andre Fleury, who came in the Stanley Cup Final as the unabashed leader in the Conn Smythe race. That was before he allowed 16 goals in the first four games of the Cup Final, allowing three-plus goals each game. Fleury is the latest in a long line of netminders victimized by the Caps offense this postseason, as Washington has found the back of the net at least three times in 17 of their 23 postseason games. They hung three or more in all six of their games against Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky in the First Round, three more times against Matt Murray in the second, and then three more times against Andrei Vasilevskiy in the Eastern Conference Final. So while Fleury’s .845 save percentage and 4.08 GAA in this series is ugly, he’s not in bad company.

The Capitals have scored an average of 3.57 goals per game in these playoffs, which currently stands 13th all-time among teams that have played at least 20 games in a postseason. No team has reached that threshold since the 1996 Avalanche averaged 3.64 en route to a title. The closest any team has come since was the 2010 Blackhawks, which averaged 3.55. After that it’s the 1998 Red Wings and 2014 Kings, who averaged 3.41 and 3.38, respectively.

And it’s coming from up and down the lineup, too. Four players have scored 20 points, the 17th time a team has had four players reach that threshold in one postseason. If John Carlson gets one more point, they’ll become the sixth team in NHL history to have five different players with 20 points in one postseason, and the first since the 1991 North Stars. The previous four came from the 1980s Oilers (who did it three times) and Islanders, two teams that nobody would accuse of being anemic.

With Lars Eller within striking distance of 20 (he currently has 17 points), the Capitals could become just the third team ever to have six. They would join the 1983 Islanders and 1985 Oilers.

Tom Wilson (14 points) makes it seven players with double digits with Matt Niskanen (9 points) and Jay Beagle, Dmitry Orlov, and Brett Connolly (8 each) sitting on the doorstep. Nine different players have scored at least five goals.

Meanwhile, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin are leading the way with historically-good postseasons.

Kuznetsov, who had four assists in the Capitals 6-2 win in Game 4, has 31 points this postseason. Only two other players have reached that mark since 1997, when Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby put up 36 and 31, respectively, in 2009.

Ovechkin is sitting on 14 goals, which is tied for the most by a Capital in a postseason. With one more goal, he’ll become the 22nd player in NHL history to score 15 goals in a postseason. Crosby, who potted 15 in 2009, is the only player that has reached that mark since 1997.

And while Kuznetsov is the 27th player to reach 31 points in a postseason and Ovechkin would be the 22nd to get 15 goals, they represent an outlier on the spectrum of NHL history.

Of those 27 postseason performances in which we saw 31 points, 24 came in a period between 1981-96 – a period when, well, you’ve probably seen some of those games. Of the 21 in which we’ve seen 15 goals, 17 came during that same time period.

Many of those performances featured names like Gretzky, Bossy, Lemieux, Kurri, Messier, Sakic, etc.

The offensive numbers the 2018 Capitals have put up mimic something from 1988. So while we’ve seen this Capitals team do some things we haven’t seen in quite some time, the offense has gone nowhere. It’s as good as it’s ever been.

Don’t let the Golden Knights win Game 5

Don’t let the Golden Knights win Game 5. That’s all I’m going to say.

And the theme of these playoffs have been if you think one thing, the opposite will probably happen. Especially surrounding these two teams.

The Capitals lead the Stanley Cup Final 3-1 following a 6-2 win in Game 4. Washington needs one win to seal its first Stanley Cup.

The Capitals have reached this point with three straight wins, beating and beating up the Golden Knights. Vegas hasn’t had any answers in the past three games since taking the series opener with a 6-4 victory.

I’m not taking the bait on this one. Not saying here’s the clock striking midnight on Vegas. Not doing my finest Gary Bettman impression and telling Alex Ovechkin to come get the Cup. I know all too well how these things turn out.

Again – whatever indication you’re getting, think the opposite.

The Golden Knights didn’t have the superstars the Kings had in the First Round. The likes of Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty would be too much. Vegas sweeps. The Sharks looked like they had Vegas on the ropes at points early in the Second Round. We all know what happened there. The Golden Knights were solved after one game with Winnipeg. All Vegas did was go on to win four straight games.

Meanwhile the Capitals were down 2-0 to the Blue Jackets going back to Columbus. They come back and win four in a row but who cares because there’s no way they’re going to beat the Penguins. They beat the Penguins, go up 2-0 on the Lightning then lose three straight and here we go again with this team. Same stuff, different year. Until it wasn’t.

And call me crazy, but I don’t think Vegas played all that terrible. The Golden Knights got out to a good start, had some good opportunities they couldn’t convert on (highlighted by James Neal’s whiff that will live in infamy) and all of a sudden they’re going to the locker room trailing 3-0. They came out strong, the Capitals got some breaks, the Golden Knights didn’t, and the game got away from them.

When you lose 6-2 there’s not many positives the team on the losing side can take from it. But there’s silver linings the Golden Knights can take from the loss. There was the good start, in which Gerard Gallant said after the game he felt the first period was the best 20 minutes Vegas had played this series. In the third period, the snakebit Golden Knights broke through with a pair of goals, with James Neal and Reilly Smith finding the net.

If the Golden Knights string together three straight wins – something they did eight times during the regular season and twice more during the playoffs – don’t be surprised if they cite moments from this Game 4 as ones that fueled the comeback and gave them the momentum they’d need to pull it off.

And most of all, don’t be surprised if they actually pull it off.

Goal of the Game

This goal is the microcosm of this Capitals run. When they need a play, they get it. The Golden Knights had scored two straight goals to cut the lead to 4-2. While they still had half the mountain to climb with less than seven minutes left, they were coming, and seven minutes might as well be seven months this time of year. And Michal Kempny delivered.

And what a game for Kempny. A guy who has been one of the Caps unsung heroes skating alongside John Carlson on the back end.

Other thoughts

*For further reading on Kempny, here’s a good piece on the defenseman, who the Capitals acquired from the Blackhawks in February.

*The only team to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the Stanley Cup Final: 1942 Maple Leafs, who rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Red Wings.

*On the two Vegas goal scorers, James Neal and Reilly Smith: Were there two guys that needed goals more than those two given the way the past couple games have gone for them?

*Evgeny Kuznetsov is up to 31 points after finishing with four assists on Monday night. Only two other players have reached that point since 1997 – Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, who put up 36 and 31, respectively, in 2009.

*Of the 27 different 31-point postseasons that have happened in NHL history, 24 occurred between 1981-96. That was quite a time to be an offensive player.

*With his second period goal, John Carlson tied Calle Johansson for the Capitals franchise record for playoff points by a defenseman, with 54.

*Another beauty of a goal for Devante Smith-Pelly.

*Marc-Andre Fleury has a .845 save percentage in this series.

*Hard hat: Colin Miller – I know the Golden Knights didn’t win, but Miller didn’t back down. Competed right to the end.

*T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom eclipsed the 20-point mark with three-point games on Monday, the fourth time in the last eight years a team has had four 20-point scorers in a postseason. Two of those teams, the 2014 Kings and 2017 Penguins, went on to win the Cup.

*John Carlson is sitting on 19 points. No team has had five 20-point scorers in a postseason since the Minnesota North Stars in 1991.

*One last thought: Remember when the Capitals couldn’t win at home?

The Capitals slugged their way to a Game 3 win

The Capitals are near-unbeatable when they establish the physical tone in a game. They did just that on Saturday night and they’re two wins shy of a Stanley Cup as a result.

Right off the opening hop, the Caps were flying. They ran over and ran through anything and everything on the ice. Washington forced Vegas into a physical, checking game, and the Golden Knights played right into the Capitals hands.

Washington dominated for the first 40 minutes of the game. The only thing that kept the game 2-0 after two periods as opposed to 6-0 was Marc-Andre Fleury, who was spectacular. Fleury made 23 saves, several of which were of the ‘wow what a save’ variety. Fleury was the reason the Golden Knights were very much in it when they came out fast in the third period and were in position tie it after Tomas Nosek cut the lead to 2-1 early in the period.

You have to credit the Caps, who executed the gameplan and got the Golden Knights to play a certain way. It got Vegas off their game and they never really recovered from it.

That’s what the theme has been for Washington in these playoffs. Guys stepping up big in key moments, and players rising to the occasion and elevating their game. It hadn’t happened enough in years prior but it’s happened plenty this year. It’s what has them this close to the Cup.

Speaking of players stepping up..

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin are the catalysts of this Capitals team. Those two guys have been unbelievable this postseason and the rest of the team seems to feed off it.

Kuznetsov left Game 2 with an upper-body injury that didn’t look good based on how he left the ice following the hit he took from Brayden McNabb that caused the injury. He came back for Game 3 and all he did was score a goal and assist, upping his NHL-high point total this postseason to 27.

Oh, and he brought back the arm-flapping celly after scoring his 12th goal of the postseason.

Meanwhile, Ovechkin made history of his own by scoring his 14th goal of the playoffs in the second period, tying John Druce for the most all-time by a Capital in a single postseason.

And obviously the big story with Kuznetsov is the injury he suffered that knocked him out of Game 2. Then he comes out and puts forth a performance like that in Game 3. It reminds you of what Sean Couturier did for the Flyers back in the First Round when he suffered a knee injury colliding with Radko Gudas in practice. We found out after the fact Couturier was playing on a torn MCL. I can see us learning that Kuznetsov was playing with a similar type of injury after this series is over.

Play of the night

What a goal. First the effort by Jay Beagle to win that foot race with Shea Theodore then fish the puck out of the corner and get it to Devante Smith-Pelly, who put it high corner with a beauty of a shot. That goal pretty much sealed the win for the Capitals and ended any hopes of Vegas finishing off their third-period rally.

Other thoughts

*Evgeny Kuznetsov is sitting on 27 points this postseason. Only four players have reached 30 since the 2004-05 lockout – Evgeni Malkin (36 in 2008-09), Sidney Crosby (31 in 2008-09), Daniel Briere (30 in 2009-10), and Logan Couture (30 in 2015-16).

*Alex Ovechkin has 14 goals this postseason. Only one player since 1997 has 15 – Sidney Crosby.

*This heat map put out by Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post is a snapshot of just how dominant Ovechkin has been.

*This is the first time a Washington team has held a series lead in a championship round since the Bullets led the SuperSonics 1-0 in the 1979 NBA Finals.

*Let’s put that into context before simply saying ‘WOW, Washington went 39 years without leading a championship series.’ First and foremost, the Redskins have won three Super Bowls in that span, and obviously the NFL doesn’t have playoff series. For 26 of those 39 years, Washington didn’t have a MLB franchise. And despite being in the mix quite a few times, the Nationals haven’t reached the World Series since relocating to Washington from Montreal in 2005. So this isn’t necessarily Buffalo we’re talking about here.

*A good sign for the Caps – of the 27 times the Stanley Cup Final was tied 1-1 prior to this year, the Game 3 winner has gone on to win the Stanley Cup in 21 of those series.

*A good sign for Vegas – the last three teams to fall behind 2-1 after splitting the first two games has won the Stanley Cup – the 2013 and ’15 Blackhawks, and the 2004 Lightning. The last team to win after splitting the first two games and winning Game 3 was the 2002 Red Wings.

*Hard hat: Jay Beagle – When the Capitals play their best, Beagle always seems to be one of the guys setting the tone. That was the case again on Saturday, when he finished with two assists and was a plus-two in 13:25.

*Matt Niskanen was incredible again on Saturday. Four hits, three blocks, plus-two in 27:16. Logged 2:26 shorthanded. Niskanen is one of the big reasons the Caps are up 2-1 right now.

*Michal Kempny stepped on a puck during warmups and went down, hitting his face hard against the boards. Scary situation, one that can be very dangerous (i.e. Taylor Hall). The spill ceded itself to a look that is peak Stanley Cup Final.

*One last thought: This image will live forever. Alex Ovechkin is playing his best hockey and living his best life right now.