Having won in Las Vegas in the fifth match of the finals, “Washington” for the first time in its history became the owner of the Stanley Cup. The 32-year-old captain of the “Capitals” Alexander Ovechkin, for whom this is also the first championship title in a 13-year career in the league, received the trophy from the hands of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
– How do you like the current game of the football team?
– Football is the main sport in the world. In our country there were many failures related to football. Everyone took the exit from the group positively. Then we beat the Spaniards – it’s a holiday. If you compare Spain and Croatia, then Spain is much stronger. The most important thing is to fight, fight, defend the honor of the country.
– With whom can you compare in football by status the strongest teams in hockey – Sweden, Canada?
– Germany, Spain. Many strong teams. But the championship is strange, many strong have already flown – Argentina, Portugal. All the clear favorites of the tournament. Our guys have the opportunity before our very eyes to win the World Cup. I do not need to compare, I think. Football and hockey are different kinds of sports. It is necessary to be sick, worried, but not to be deceived last year Capitals defeat Maple Leafs in the first round. The guys are already great, they took such a step!
– Are there any friends in the football team?
– Yes, I know many guys personally. Someone was not invited to the World Cup. But I will not mention the names, we are now rooting for the country, and not for individuals.
– What can you say about the current selection of “Washington”, with Tom Wilson talked?
– It’s hard to say something, I do not know the final composition. Nothing to add. We communicate with Tom Wilson, but I will not tell you any secrets.
– Samsonov became a player of “Washington”, Alekseev selected in the draft. Will you help the guys get comfortable?
“The most important thing for them is to gain a foothold in the first team, I will help, as Kuze and Orel helped me, when we came to Washington. Always help, keep close.
– Malkin ate from the Stanley Cup dumplings, and what are you planning to do?
– There are ideas, but I will not disclose them. I hope this remains in our family circle. We will have a separate celebration with family and friends.
– Is there any desire to win another championship with Dynamo?
“It’s too early to talk about retirement, I still have four years of contract with Washington.” Let’s see how it goes next. I very much want to win the Olympic Games.
– On the Internet, the roller is walking, where you got a washer in your face. Was it painful or was the muscle strength?
– Are there any muscles in the place where the puck got to? (He laughs). It hurt, blood went, but it’s okay. Stanley Cup Finals, people with fractures are playing.
The new look of “Washington”
After the second consecutive defeat in the playoffs from the “Pittsburgh” in the spring of 2017, the “Capitals” faced the inevitability of the rebuild. In the previous form, the team did not have a chance to meet the fall under the salary ceiling. In the summer, “Washington” left experienced defenders Kevin Schattenkirk and Carl Alzner, as well as “Mr. Seventh Game” Justin Williams.
The main challenges of general manager Brian McLellan were the expiring agreements of Evgeny Kuznetsov and TJ Jay Osh. June 22, extended the contract with the club for six seasons (the total amount of the transaction – $ 30.6 million), one of the leading players in the defense, Dmitry Orlov.
The next day, the signature under the eight-year contract ($ 46 million) was put by Osh. Shortly after the opening of the free agent market, the contract with the club, also for eight years ($ 62.4 million), was extended by Kuznetsov.
A significant increase in the salary of the latter is expected to have confused McCallan Solitaire. Genmenager needed to find additional space for the bridge contract Andre Burakovski (two years, $ 6 million), resulting in one of the leading forwards Marcus Johansson moved to New Jersey for the elections in the second and third rounds of this month’s Dallas draft pick.
Against the backdrop of such a significant loss of the acquisition of “Washington” in the market were as modest as possible: annual agreements were signed with strikers Devante Smith-Pelli and Alex Shiasson.
Contrary to the forecasts, the first became a notable figure in the campaign “Capitals” for the Stanley Cup. Scoring just seven goals in the championship, Smith-Pelli turned into an important piece of the general mosaic in the playoffs, where he scored six goals at once, five of which – in the third periods.
Historical Ovechkin Championship
The championship started fantastically for Ovechkin, who scored seven goals in the first two matches. He became the first player in the history of the NHL, who started the season with two consecutive hat-tricks.
After the previous season, in which the club’s best sniper scored 33 goals, many hurried to assume that this is the beginning of the decline of Ovechkin’s career. However, nine goals in the first five matches hinted at the opposite.
The lion’s share of assists on this segment Ovechkin made Kuznetsov, who first spent most of the 2017-18 championship in the first link instead of Niklas Backstrom. The find for the top three of the attack was Tom Wilson, who not only cleared the space for leaders with his power-like manner, but also confidently played along with the star partners on the link.
Despite the bright start, the next calendar month, “Washington” has been extremely unstable, alternating victories with defeats. By the middle of November, the team had 11 wins with 10 defeats, which successfully fell into the narrative of the vague prospects of the Capitals and the “champion window” that closed for the club.
Nevertheless, with the beginning of the winter, a recognizable combination and effective style was returned to the “Washington”, thanks to which the Capitals won the President’s Cup two previous seasons.
Speaking in the most competitive division of the East, Stolichny, where the first place from the eighth at some point closer to the end of the championship shared only four points, “Washington” managed to surprise again, the third consecutive year becoming his strongest team.
The best scorer of the club in the championship with 87 (49 + 38) points was Ovechkin, the seventh time in his career won the prize of Maurice Richard. The most productive season in the NHL was Kuznetsov, who for the first time in his life overcame the elite level of one score for the game – 83 (27 + 56) points in 79 matches.
Playoffs in the status of the first number began Philip Grubauer, powerful looking in the end of the championship and won the competition from Braden Holtby. “Washington” survived the worst crisis in the Stanley Cup at its very start, when twice in a row lost in overtime to “Columbus” in his field.
In match number 3, instead of the uncertain Grubauer, Holtby returned from the first minutes, which was a turning point for the Capitals. The fate of the championship hung in the balance in the third game in Columbus, which again reached overtime.
Missed in it washer almost guaranteed to issue an early departure of “Washington” from the playoffs. However, thanks to Lars Eller’s washer, “Washington” not only reduced the difference in the score in the series, but seized the initiative, and then won three wins in a row.
Another turning point in the playoffs was the series with “Pittsburgh”. After two consecutive defeats at the semi-final stage of the conference, when the “Penguins” every time then took the Stanley Cup, “Washington” managed to defeat his personal cup dragon.
With the score 2-2 in the series, “Capitals” took the key match number 5 on their ice, and in the next duel on the road they designed the first since 1998 to the final of the conference. Kuznetsov threw the winning goal in the overtime of the match # 6.
The irrepressible “Capitals”
It was impossible to keep the “Washington” that really believed in itself. The closest thing to solving this problem was “Tampa”. Despite the fact that almost every match in the East Final the best team on the ice was represented by “Washington”, “Capitals” only time in this draw had to go all the distance.
After two wins at the start of the series “Lightning” took three games in a row and for the first time put “Washington” on the verge of departure. Once inside the wall, the team demonstrated psychological stamina. Holtby at the decisive moment twice played “to zero,” and the attack, “Capitals” scored “Tampa” seven goals in two games. The double in the sixth match was remembered by Osh, in the match №7 – Burakovski.
The favorite of the finals, if one could be identified at all, was the sensational “Vegas”. The debutant of the NHL lost on the way to the finals only three fights. “Kings” in the starting round were defeated by them dry, “Sharks” – in six games, and the dangerous “Winnipeg” was stopped at five.
Despite this, the number of defeats “Golden Knights” in the playoffs doubled after the fourth match of the finals. Match number 1 in Las Vegas ended with a victory for the hosts, but it was already seen in it that the “Washington” may have a better chance of success. Making adjustments, “Capitals” equalized the score on the road, and then took two of the most important duel at home, leading in the series 3-1.
In the history of the Stanley Cup, only one team – the “Toronto” of the 1942 model – managed to win in the finals, having overcome such a backlog in the account. “Washington” did not allow “Golden Knights” to repeat a similar path. Match # 5 in Las Vegas was the last act and put an exclamation point in the story of the historical for the “Capitals” season 2017-18.