At 32 years of age, time appeared to be running out for Alex Ovechkin in regards to making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. It had been so, so long since he had been a legitimate superstar in the league, and the stars had just never aligned for him and the Washington Capitals. But all of that changed in seemingly, and that’s the key word, seemingly the strangest of circumstances and the most unlikely.
The Washington Capitals started the series on fire. They would race out to a 2-0 lead, and they looked to be cruising toward a meeting with the Las Vegas Golden Knights. But, and it’s a huge but, there was and still remains a massive problem. The Capitals had become, and there’s no delicate way of saying this, serial chokers. In games after taking either a 2-0 or 3-1 lead in a series, the Caps were 14-43 all time. Absolutely abysmal. If they had lost this game, it would have been the 11th time in the history of the franchise that they had blown a 2-0 lead and been eliminated.
So, really, this was how it had to be done. The ghosts and demons had to be exorcised. They had to go up 2-0 just to see their lead evaporate and head into a crucial Game 7. Back to Ovechkin, who had been questioned about his true ability and greatness down the years due to being a part of so many collapses. He didn’t score the flashiest goal ever here in this particular game, but he did lay down the law very early on when he scored to give them a lead just over a minute into the game. That set them on course toward a rather comfortable 4-0 win in the end, and they will now be looking forward to facing another unlikely team.
It’s going to make for great national headlines seeing the Washington Capitals, lead by a Russian superstar who has just helped them overcome a serious hoodoo of epic proportions, taking on the biggest story of the year in the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The expansion team was just put together this past year! Yet, they now are in the Stanley Cup Finals. There are a number of reasons for that, but it’s still amazing to see how they have managed to do this. There will be all kinds of stories ahead of the series, and this couldn’t have been planned much better for hockey and the NHL in general.