The Washington Capitals signed Joel Ward away from Nashville last summer following the forwards impressive playoff performance.
On Wednesday night, Ward rewarded the Caps with a game-winning goal in overtime of game seven to oust the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
Talk about paying off.
Ward's goal came just 2:57 into overtime as the No. 7 seed Caps dethroned the No. 2 seed Bruins, winning three games out of four in Boston in the process. Caps goalie Braden Holtby, proving to be a road warrior, made 31 stops on 32 shots to outduel Boston's Tim Thomas (25 saves on 27 shots) yet again.
For Caps goalie Braden Holtby, Thursday was just another day at the office.
That day at the office, by the way, included 44 saves on 45 shots by the Lloydminster, Saskatchewan native. It marked the second time in four games that Holtby made 40+ saves in the series, he stopped 43 of 44 shots in game two to steal a win in Boston.
Not bad for a guy with zero NHL playoff experience prior to his start in game one. Sure he had AHL playoff experience and some while playing for the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL, but not NHL playoff experience on the biggest stage in hockey.
The result: a 1.60 GAA (second among all goalies in playoffs...
Coming into the series, nobody thought that 22-year-old Braden Holtby, with zero playoff experience, could match Tim Thomas save-for-save.
But the Caps' young netminder has done just that, even slightly out-dueling Boston's former Vezina Trophy winner.
Holtby carries a .83 GAA into game three in D.C. and a sparkling .973 save percentage. Not to mention that he's stopped 72 of 74 shots in those two games, answering some of the questions surrounding the Caps' ominous goaltending situation entering the playoffs. Thomas hasn't been all that bad either, tending the cage to the tune of the same .83 GAA and a .9...
The defending Stanley Cup Champions will have to first go through the Washington Capitals in this year's playoffs if they have any plans of repeating. Fortunately for them, the Capitals aren't exactly the most consistent team in the league right now. Frankly, they're probably lucky to find themselves in the playoffs after everything that's gone on in the nation's capital this year. Star players underperforming and creating mutinies against coaches, GMs unable to figure out what to do with their team, just a lot of headaches and problems for the Caps and their fans. The Bruins, on the other han...
The Washington Capitals clinched a spot in the 2012 playoffs in game 81 of 82. In contrast, the Boston Bruins had been penciled in the playoffs since about game 10. Oh by the way, they're also the defending Stanley Cup champs.
Leading the Capitals against the champs is of, course, a 22-year-old netminder with zero playoff experience in Braden Holtby. But hey, Michal Neuvirth had the same amount of playoff experience when the Caps dispatched the New York Rangers in the first-round of the playoffs last year, so there's that.
Braden Holtby will make his first playoff start in the NHL in...
Caps goalie Braden Holtby has played just 21 regular season games in his short career.
Now, he's the Capitals' probable game one starter when they open their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, where he could make his first career playoff start on Thursday.
Oh by the way, he's facing the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins...in Boston. At just 22-years-old, Holtby will be the youngest goaltender to start for any team in the 2012 playoffs. Welcome to the big show kid.
The reason the Caps could have to turn to the youngster is due to injuries to both veteran starter Tomas Vokoun and backup Michal Neuvirth, who played very well down the s...
They waited until game 81, but the Washington Capitals will be going to the NHL playoffs for the fifth-straight year thanks to a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers and a Buffalo Sabres loss at Philadelphia.
The old saying, "It wasn't pretty," doesn't even come close to describe the '11-12 Capitals road to the playoffs.
There were injuries to Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom, a so-called down year for superstar captain Alex Ovechkin and the firing of a coach mid-season.
When the dust settled after Thursday night, the Capitals find themselves a win and a Florida loss away from the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
Everybody was making jokes at the Panthers' expense last summer. There were the Dale Tallon jokes, with the Florida GM filling out the roster with great speed, and sizeable contracts. As free agency opened, the league looked on in awe as Florida announced signing after signing. There was the roster, filled with players that most hockey fans across the league were ready to dismiss as a laughable collection of misfits who didn't seem to fit in anywhere else. By the time training camp opened, half the roster had been turned over, and the team was being led by a first-year NHL coach.
Most people thought the Panthers would be lucky if they could claw themselves a few spots h...
Heading into one of the better weeks in sports as the NHL regular season winds down and playoff spots are finalized, I thought I would give some thoughts on the season and things I look forward to heading into the playoffs.