Beninati: Remarkable Halak

Beninati: Remarkable Halak

Monday, April 26, 2010 11:21 pm

By Joe Beninati

Sometimes all you can do is shake your head and wonder how in the world one player performs at such a remarkable level. Jaroslav Halak was the overwhelming reason why Montreal earned 4-1 decision over Washington tonight.He made a ridiculously good stop on Alex Semin in the first minute of the game and never looked back. As soon as he made two more stellar stops, shortly there after I was worried that he may be unbeatable tonight. But his effort managed to exceed my wildest imagination. That was one of the best goaltending performances I have seen in many moons.Michael Cammalleri scored twice on Semyon Varlamov before the game was ten minutes old. The first goal was a pretty snap shot. His second goal appeared to glance in off Boyd Gordon and underneath Varlamov. It was almost unimaginable to think the Caps would be in another two goal deficit when honestly I thought that they had a much better start tonight then the dismal opening to Game 5 at home.Once the first period was complete the Capitals dominated the remainder of regulation. The game was so one-sided it was hard to fathom that Halak could manage to compete at such a high level. Joe Corvo, Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin, all of them had golden scoring opportunities that were thwarted by the Montreal goalie.When Halak wasn't robbing someone, he would benefit from a great break on shots that hit the post. The Canadiens have managed to nullify the Capitals power play. Washington is a putrid 1-for-30 with the man advantage. Part of that is their own doing, but tonight Halak was the team's best penalty killer. And when he helped squash a 5-on-3 man advantage for over a minute, all the Caps could do is tip their caps.So this series comes down to a one game winner-take-all on Wednesday. Right now Montreal has the momentum and the all important super hot goalie. Sorry if I am a bit stunned that Washington's 3-1 lead in the series has gone up in smoke. You could make the argrument that the Caps didn't deserve that lead in the first place, but now they have to dig deep and summon all their talent and team chemistry just to survive round one.

Quick Links

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...


Quick Links

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights have met only twice in their history. Neither team was expected to get to this point so you can go ahead and throw away the stats, the matchups, the data and the history. A new story will be written in the Stanley Cup FInal.

Who will ultimately win the Cup? Here are four factors that could ultaimtely swing the series.

1. Goaltending

The Caps have faced elimination only twice in the playoffs and Braden Holtby did not allow a single goal in either game. He enters the Stanley Cup Final having not allowed a single goal in 159:27. Andrei Vasilevskiy began to take over the series with his performance in Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5, but Holtby outplayed him to finish off the series in Washington’s favor.

Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, has been the best player in the playoffs. Not the best goalie, the best player.

Through 15 games, Fleury has a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. As good as Vegas has been this postseason, Fleury has stolen several games for the Golden Knights.

Both of these goalies are certainly capable of stealing away a series for their respective teams. Which one will outplay the other?

2. Time off

Rust is a real thing in hockey. Just any team when they come off a bye week. When the Caps and Golden Knights take the ice on Monday, May 28, it will be the first game for Vegas since May 20. That’s over a week off.

Yes, getting rest at this time of the year is important, but too much rest leads to rust and that should be a major concern for Vegas, especially for a team that was playing so well and has so much momentum.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Caps stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning both Game 1 and Game 2 in Tampa. Could they do it again with a rusty Vegas team? Will the long layoff cost the Golden Knights one or even two home games to start the series?

3. The McPhee factor

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was the Caps’ general manager for 17 years starting with the 1997-98 season. He was fired in 2014, but was ultimately responsible for building the core of the Washington team that is now headed to the Stanley Cup Final.

But that also means he knows those players very, very well.

Nicklas Backstrom, Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and of course, Alex Ovechkin were all drafted by McPhee. Jay Beagle was also signed by as an undrafted free agent.

A general manager does not sign or draft anyone without knowing a good deal about the kind of player they are. Does that give McPhee a bit of an edge when it comes to facing the Caps?

4. Speed

The Golden Knights are fast. When the expansion draft was all said and done it was clear McPhee had targeted two things specifically: defensemen and speed. The result is an exceptionally fast Golden Knights team that no one has been able to keep up with so far.

Vegas' speed mixed with the goaltending of Fleury has proven to be a lethal combination. Their mobility makes it hard to get the puck from them or even keep it in the offensive zone. Once they get it, it’s going down the ice very quickly and you better keep up with them or it's going to end up in the back of the net. Once they build a lead, it is very difficult for teams to dig their way out as evidenced by their 10-1 record this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were both fast teams as well and the Capitals were able to combat that with strong play in the neutral zone. The 1-3-1 trap has given opponents fits and generated a lot of odd-man breaks for the Caps. Will it be as effective against a speedy Vegas team?