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Ranking Braden Holtby’s save among the top D.C. Sports plays since 2000

Ranking Braden Holtby’s save among the top D.C. Sports plays since 2000

Once Braden Holtby rejected Las Vegas Golden Knight Alex Tuch’s game-tying attempt, there was no question that his save was going down in D.C. Sports lore.

Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final gave the Washington Capitals their first-ever Stanley Cup victory. In that one single play, there was a little bit of athleticism, mental awareness, championship glory, and some luck.

The only legitimate inquiry is how deep in D.C. Sports lore does it go? 

Now ranking ALL PLAYS in D.C. Sports history is too hard. There are too many arguments that could be made, plays that were not filmed, and quite frankly I don’t want your great-grandfather to call us out on Twitter. We’re just going to break it down to plays since the turn of the century in 2000.

Qualifications are as follows: a little bit of athleticism, mental awareness, championship glory, and some luck.

#1 Braden Holtby’s ‘The Save’

Alright, here’s why this is the top play in D.C. sports since 2000. Yes, Tuch completely whiffed on the shot. If there are two things you do not do in this situation: miss the net, or keep the puck on the ice. That’s the only chance Holtby has at making that save, and he did.

Throughout the third period, the momentum was building toward a goal. Through the first two periods of Game 2, the Golden Knights and Capitals averaged three goals a period. There was no way it was going to be scoreless, but Holtby ensured that it was.

If he does not make that save it becomes a 2-0 series and we are talking sweep. Now it’s a series and the Capitals are three wins away from a championship.

I also understand that if the Capitals go on to lose this series, this play becomes just another one of the other plays listed below. 

#2 John Wall beats the Celtics in Game 6

Down two, playoff fate on the line, you’re one of the best lane drivers in the NBA and you pull up for a three? Yes John Wall did and yes he delivered.

That took courage and in that moment we found out it was John Wall’s city (we’ve been reminded more times than we can count since). Don’t overlook the series either, that was arguably the best playoff series since 2000 for the Washington Wizards.

The Wizards would go on to lose the series in Game 7 of the Second Round of the 2017 NBA playoffs.

#3 The Werthquake in 2012

Not many plays will ever beat this moment in Washington Nationals history. Another play that happened at home, Jayson Werth’s walk-off home run in the 2012 NLDS tied the series with the St. Louis Cardinals at two games apiece.

If the Nationals did not go on to choke away Game 5, this play definitely is in contention for No. 1 on this list.

I’m still convinced that there are some Nationals fans that never left the park.

#4 ‘The Truth’ calls ‘Game’

Unlike the two series above, this play was not in a win-or-go-home scenario. But Paul Pierce famously calling ‘Game’ to beat the Atlanta Hawks is a quiet the memory.

Sending the Wizards to a 2-1 series lead, Washington would go on to lose three straight to fall in the series 4-2 in the 2015 NBA playoffs.

#5 Steven Sousa’s saves the no-hitter

Talk about a darkhorse. The only game not in the playoffs, no postseason implications on line, the significance clearly is the biggest factor.

On the final day of the 2014 regular season, Jordan Zimmerman was dealing with no hits through 26 outs. The 27th, and final out proved to be the most difficult.

That is when Steven Sousa comes in. He makes the out-stretched catch in left field to give Zimmerman and the Nationals the first no-hitter in Washington Nationals history (the Montreal Expos had four before moving to D.C.).

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Drew Nicholas’ buzzer beater

In the First Round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament, Drew Nicholas makes an off-balance, game-winning shot to send the No. 6 Maryland Terrapins past the No. 11 UNC-Wilmington Seahawks.

Simeon Varlamov save on Crosby

https://youtu.be/01Ow7Kxaqb4

Déjà vu? This was a real tough play to leave out of the top-five and in many ways it is more impressive that Holtby’s No. 1 save. However, the Capitals would go on to lose this series and it was only in the second period.

Gilbert Arenas buzzer-beater vs. the Bulls

One of many buzzer-beaters in Gilbert Arenas’ career with the Wizards, this one was the one with the biggest impact.

Rob Jackson interception seals playoff berth

WATCH CLIP HERE

It wasn’t too athletic, nor was it a walk-off victory, but Rob Jackson intercepting Tony Romo in the fourth quarter clinched Washington the NFC East for the first time since 1999.

The Monday Night Miracle

No playoff implications on the line, although this game proved to be the difference in Washington getting into the playoffs, all D.C. fans remember when Santa Moss became the ‘Cowboy killer.’ Not one, but two touchdowns scored in the final minutes by Moss beat the Cowboys in Texas Stadium for one of the best comebacks in the rivalry.

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Key Caps questions: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?

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USA TODAY Sports

Key Caps questions: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?

Tarik: The term ‘Stanley Cup Hangover’ exists because, well, it’s a real thing. And the Caps, like all teams that battle into early June, are vulnerable to suffering from it next season.

Why? Think about it. No. 1, the core group just completed the longest season—106 games—of their lives (and, somewhere, the party is still going). No. 2, the top guys aren't exactly a bunch of spring chickens. No. 3, human nature.

A little more on that last one. Alex Ovechkin and Co. have spent the entirety of their professional hockey careers chasing Lord Stanley’s Cup. And now they have it. At long last. Hoisting the Cup was as much a moment to cherish as it was a gigantic relief for a team that had been labeled perennial underachievers. Shifting gears from that feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment back to hunger and determination is difficult.

Something else that worries me a bit? They don’t have experience dealing with a truncated offseason. Rest and recovery matter. And they aren’t going to get much of either this summer.

All that said, they don’t have to stumble through the 2018-19 season. If you're looking at things from the optimist's point of view, the Cup run did something for Ovechkin and his teammates that none of the previous failures could: It showed them EXACTLY what it takes to play deep into the spring.

Eleven out of 12 forwards from the championship squad are expected back. Five of six defensemen and the goalie are returning, as well. Sure, they’ve got a new head coach, but he’s been here for four years already, giving him a huge advantage over a bench boss who’s starting from scratch. So there’s continuity and chemistry already built in.

I look at it like this: The core guys who’ve been around a while—Ovechkin, Backstrom, Carlson, Holtby, etc.—have a rare opportunity before them. After coming up short for so many years, they’ve been gifted an extraordinary chance to make up for lost time over the next 12-24 months. In fact, Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Oshie, Eller, Carlson, Niskanen, Orlov, Kempny and Holtby have two more years together, as a core, before the next round of tough decisions will need to be made.

But it’s going to be up to them. Are they going to be satisfied with one Cup? Or will they get greedy? I’m betting on the latter.

Regan: The Capitals could enter next season hungry, motivated, in the right mindset, completely prepared in every way to avoid a Cup hangover and it may still happen. Why? Because the Capitals (and Vegas for that matter) will enter next season with less time to rest, recover and prepare after a grueling playoff run than any other team in the NHL.

First things first, no, I do not think the Caps will struggle because they are are partying too hard this summer and won't be ready for the start of the season.

It took a long time Washington to finally reach the top of the mountain. It won't be lost on Alex Ovechkin, or any of the veterans, that the year he came into training camp early and in really good shape, that was the year he was able to lead his team to the promised land. Considering all the struggles, all the early playoff exits, all the years it took to finally win, I expect the veterans will look at how they prepared last season and take that lesson to heart going into camp. Those players will enter the fall in as good a shape as the time they have this offseason will allow them to be.

But this team is not just composed of veterans of the Ovechkin era who suffered through all of those postseason struggles.

What about the youngsters? Will Jakub Vrana have the same motivation as Ovechkin or a Nicklas Backstrom to show up to camp ready next season? What about Chandler Stephenson, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey? If any of the team's young players aren't exactly in "game shape" by the fall, they won't be the first and they certainly won't be the last to struggle with early career playoff success.

There's also a new head coach to consider. In a lot of ways, I think coming into the season with a new coach in Todd Reirden will help. I don't expect too much adjustment under a coach the team knows very well, but I do expect more motivation at the start of the regular season than you usually see from a team coming off a championship.

There are a lot of reasons why the Caps could actually avoid a Cup hangover, but the fact is that time puts them at a disadvantage. Even if they overcome all the other factors, there's nothing they can do to suddenly give themselves more time to recover and to train. For that reason alone, I do expect a few early-season struggles from the defending champs.

Other key questions

How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?

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Capitals' T.J. Oshie had so much fun golfing, drinking through shirt again at celebrity golf tournament

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Capitals' T.J. Oshie had so much fun golfing, drinking through shirt again at celebrity golf tournament

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo may have won the American Century Championships celebrity golf tournament this weekend, but T.J. Oshie definitely had the most fun.

Using the Modified Stableford scoring format for the tournament — which included several pro and retired athletes, such as Steph Curry, Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer, Charles Barkley and Joe Pavelski — Oshie finished with 11 points, tying for 48th with NFL Hall of Famer Tim Brown and Golf Channel host Lisa Cornwell. 

But the Capitals' winger's score didn't really matter because Oshie was out on the Lake Tahoe golf course in Nevada just having fun with his family and continuing the epic celebration as a new Stanley Cup champion. Obviously, that meant playing and chugging a beer through his t-shirt as 'We Are The Champions' played.

His brother, Taylor, was his caddy, and at one point, Oshie borrowed his brother's beer helmet while putting. He sunk it, and it was amazing.

Yeah, Oshie had a great weekend. Here's a look at some other moments from his weekend on Lake Tahoe.

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