Ryan Flaherty has impressed manager Buck Showalter enough to start four straight games. On Saturday night, he was scheduled to start in right field for the first time.Nick Markakis isnt feeling well and will be the designated hitter.Flaherty played right field in spring training as well as the infield positions, and manager Buck Showalter isnt afraid to try the Rule 5 draft pick in a number of positions.Theres only one way to find out, Showalter said. I know his background. Hes played all over.He played second base in place of Robert Andino this week and third base on Friday night.I saw how much Ryan played in spring, Showalter said. Its a night like tonight when you have people sick and youre trying to figure out a way to keep them healthy. We didnt have this last year.Showalter said that Wilson Betemit will also play in the outfield later in the season.Flaherty is batting .200 with an RBI in eight games.
For just the second time in franchise history, the Capitals are Eastern Conference Champions. They will play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup FInal after a dominant 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Alex Ovechkin gave the Capitals the lead just 62 seconds into the game. It was a lead they would never relinquish as Braden Holtby recorded his second consecutive shutout.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final will be Monday in Las Vegas.
Here are the three stars of the game.
1. Andre Burakovsky: It's been a rough year for Burakovsky, but all that was erased on Wednesday with his brilliant two-goal performance to lead the Caps.
The Caps were clinging to a 1-0 lead in the second period, but the Lightning were buzzing, outshooting the Caps 8-1. They had all the momentum until Burakovsky stole a bouncing puck from Dan Girardi and fired a quick shot far-side for the beautiful goal.
Burakovsky added a second goal later in the second as John Carlson banked a pass off the boards to launch him on a breakaway. Burakovsky coolly shot it through the open five-hole of Vasilevskiy to make it 3-0.
It's incredible to think that Burakovsky had not recorded a point yet this postseason prior to Game 7, was a healthy scratch for Game 5 and was talking about seeing a sports psychologist over the summer after the morning skate for Game 6.
2. Braden Holtby: The goaltending for much of the series was Andrei Vasilevskiy who led Tampa Bay's comeback in the series with his phenomenal netminding. He was outplayed in the most important games by Holtby, however, who recorded shutouts in both Game 6 and Game 7. The last goal the Lightning scored in the series came 33 seconds into the second period of Game 5. That's 139:27 of continuous play and 60 straight saves for Holtby.
Holtby was phenomenal in Game 7 with big save after big save as the Lightning pushed to tie. His biggest save came in the second period when he denied Alex Killorn on the breakaway. The score was just 2-0 at that point.
This marks just the fifth time a goalie has recorded a shutout in Game 6 and Game 7 in a playoff series.
3. Alex Ovechkin: It took Ovechkin just 62 seconds to put the Capitals ahead and it turned out to be the goal that sent Washington to the Stanley Cup Final. How fitting for it to be Ovechkin to score the game-winner?
A rough hit to the back of Brooks Orpik left him down on the ice and slow to get up. Cedric Paquette skated back to his bench and waited for the trainer to attend to Orpik and (probably) for the referees to call his number and send him to the box.
The penalty, however, never came.
You always hear in hockey that if you can see a player's numbers, you should pull up on the hit.
What that refers to is the numbers on the back of a player's jersey. You are not allowed to hit a player directly in the back into the boards.
The official definition of boarding according to the NHL rule book is, "any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously." Hitting a player "in the numbers" is a defenseless position.
Apparently Cedric Paquette didn't know that and, unfortunately for the Capitals, neither did the referees.
Someone explain to me how this is not a boarding penalty:
Sometimes referees are put in a tough position because a player turns his back right before they take the hit, thus putting themselves in a vulnerable position to draw a penalty. That was not the case here. Orpik never turned.
When Tom Wilson hit Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese in the second period, the hockey world spent the next day debating whether it was an illegal hit. There is no debate here, no grey area. Just a clear board.
And no call.
You can understand referees wanting to put away the whistles for a Game 7, but you have to call the blatant dangerous plays like this. This was a bad miss by the referees, plain and simple.
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