It took 20 years, but the Caps are back in the Stanley Cup Finals where they will face the architect of the Rock the Red Era, George McPhee and his expansion franchise the Vegas Golden Knights.
McPhee took the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first year as General Manager in 1998 and was in charge of the franchise until he was fired after the 2014 season. McPhee has put together a roster of cast offs from other franchises and shocked the NHL by not only making the finals in year one, but doing it in just 15 playoff games.
The Capitals meanwhile are here after taking out Columbus in six, Pittsburgh in six, and Tampa Bay in a physically grueling 7-game series. This year’s Capitals team was supposed to take a step back because the roster was not as deep yet here they are 4 wins away from the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup.
For what it’s worth the Knights swept the Caps in two meetings this season 3-0 in DC (12/23) and 4-3 in Vegas (2/4). Did we mention Capitals killer Marc-Andre Fleury is between the pipes for Vegas? The former Penguins goalie has been terrific in the post season and obviously has thrived this time of the year.
Speaking of thriving, how about Braden Holtby? Two straight shutouts to close out the Tampa Bay Lightning and let’s not forget he started the post season on the bench. The Capitals of course have been led by their Captain Alex Ovechkin, who lit the lamp 62 seconds into Game 7 setting the tone for the 4-0 series clinching win. The Great 8 has been just that in the post season.
The Capitals have had 17 different players score in the post season. They are getting contributions from everyone. The Game 7 Hero Andre Burakovsky who had two goals was a healthy scratch in Game 5.
We have heard the Capitals players and Coach Barry Trotz in the post season say that this group is different. They have proven that all the way to an Eastern Conference Championship and are now just 4 wins away from hoisting their first ever Stanley Cup.