Well, you’ve just witnessed history, folks. The Washington Capitals dropped the Metropolitan poseur-pauper New York Rangers 2-0, and in so doing, claimed their second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s regular season champion, becoming just the seventh team in league history to do so.
Here's Wednesday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: Braden Holtby pitches a shutout, Alex Ovechkin scores on the power play, and the Rangers go home depressed. What isn’t to like??
Minus: Nicklas Backstrom had a goal disallowed after replay showed he distinctly kicked it in. It’s okay, DC United try-outs are just around the corner, Nicky.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. With the Presidents’ Trophy on the line, the Capitals needed just a single point of blood from their hated Ranger rivals to secure the regular season title. On Wednesday Night Rivalry, under the dulcet NBC tones of Doc Emrick and the colon-eviscerating idiotia of Mike Milbury, would they get it done?
2. The Rangers rolled into Washington with a roster more full of holes than the plot to a Clive Cussler novel. Bulbous blueshirts Fast, McDonagh, Zuccarello, Holden, Skjei, and Nash all sat this one out due to injury or rest, effectively leveling the playing field for the Caps who were still licking their wounds after a back-to-back in Toronto.
3. For the second time in as many nights and games, Barry Trotz gave Nate Schmidt a sweater in a scene that I can’t help but picture like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel. “Wot? You want to skate???” Schmidt scored on Tuesday night against the Maple Leafs; would he dent the Metro baddies, too? John Carlson continues to be out “hour to hour,” in Trotz’s words, with a lower-body injury.
4. The first period was a good one for New Yorkers, like when someone at a party mentions anything whatsoever about pizza at all. At one point, the Rangers had more than triple the Caps’ shots, and the period ended with New York leading 9-6.
5. The second period saw a little fire, scarecrow. It took 15 minutes, but the Capitals found themselves on a power play. After 30+ seconds of devastating zone time like Dutch Oven-ing your little brother, Evgeny Kuznetsov found big brother Alex Ovechkin in his finely oaken office. Ovi dutifully drew up the papers, completed the forms in triplicate, and notarized the cover letter to his 34th goal of the season, a wicked and meticulously-documented wrister that made it 1-0 Caps. In fact, it looked like this from inside Verizon:
6. In the third period, the Russian incursion persisted. Just five minutes into the frame, Evgeny Kuznetsov caught a lovely motivator from Marcus Johansson as he cruised into the zone. Kuzy slipped past two Rangers defenders and ripped a wrist shot high past Henrik Lundqvist and his extensive Italian wardrobe to make it 2-0 Caps.
7. The Rangers pulled Lundqvist in a desperate attempt to spoil the party at Verizon in the final minutes, and despite an impressive flurry of frustration, couldn’t even make a dent. This one went into the books. Final: 2-0 Capitals.
8. All the Capitals managed to escape injury! Which, frankly, should be just about Objective Numero Uno around this time of year. Quick, make off with your ligaments and groins in tact, boys!
9. Braden Holtby was a perfect 24-for-24, recording his NHL-leading 9th shutout of the season and continuing to make the Vezina Trophy debate a hotly (and I mean hotly, ow ow!) contested one.
10. Congratulations, Washington Capitals! The team claims its second-consecutive Presidents’ Trophy, just the seventh team in history to ever do so back-to-back. Of the previous six teams, four won the Stanley Cup in one of the seasons, and all six made it to a Stanley Cup final. Just sayin’.
We are witnessing greatness as Capitals fans. This is the best team ever to wear sweaters that read Washington. Whatever’s next, enjoy it. Enjoy this whole damn thing. The Caps have a date with the Bruins on Saturday in Boston, and with destiny after that. This is going to be one fun ride.