Friday, December 27, 2013

Circling Back: Best Caps Games from 2013

It's hard to believe 2013 only has four more days left. Since the start of the 2013 season on January 19 until, well, today, we have seen some of the most emotional, nerve-wracking games in recent memory, otherwise knows as Caps hockey.

What follows is my opinion of the best of the best this year.

5. WAS @ PIT: Mar 19; 2-1 Pittsburgh
Why did a loss get in here? Two main reasons. Although this was a loss, this game began the resurgence of both the Caps and Alex Ovechkin, who went on a tear after the game, scoring 23 goals in the last 23 games to win the Rocket Richard trophy and lead the Caps to the playoffs. Although they lost this game, the Caps were arguably the better team, despite playing one of the best teams in the league, and this game started the Caps on a rampage where they only lost four more games, and didn't receive points in only two more. This was the most complete game of the season to date for the team, and they have been playing much better since.

4. April 23 vs. WIN: Apr 23; 5-3 Caps
This game was for all the marbles, as the top two teams in the Southeast Division went at it. If the Caps won, they clinched the final division title ever, while if the Winnipeg Jets win, well, with tough games against Ottawa and Boston on the docket, things don't look good for the Caps. However, after blowing a two goal lead, the Caps scored two straight and held on to beat the Jets and complete their stunning comeback from the bottom of the standings to win the division.

3. Game 5 vs. NYR: May 10; 2-1 Caps (OT)
One of the most heart-stopping games all year, in Game 5 of the playoff series against the Rangers, with the series tied at 2, the Caps shook off a goal by Brian Boyle in the first minute to tie it up on the power play in the second period, then after great performances by Braden Holtby and Henrik Lundqvist, send the game into overtime. Another heart-pounding nine and a half minutes ensued, with both teams getting good chances, until finally Mike Ribeiro pounded a rebound past Lundqvist to give the Caps the victory and series lead. Unfortunately, as we all know, the Caps weren't able to complete the series win, but that game at least gave Caps fans reason to cheer.

2. WAS vs. TBL: Dec 10; 6-5 Caps (SO)
Alex Ovechkin's individual effort alone sends this game near the top of the heap for the year. After going down 3-0 early to a Steven Stamkos-less Tampa Bay Lightning team, OV scored four of Washington five goals, including the tying goal with thirty second left in regulation, to send the game into OT and eventually the SO, where the Caps completed the stunning comeback to defeat the Bolts. Nick Backstrom also had a phenomenal game, assisting on all of OV's goals and adding a goal himself to boot. Although it wasn't really important, it was incredible, and that's good enough for me.

1. Game 2 vs. NYR: May 4; 1-0 Caps (OT)
Of all of the emotional, nerve-wracking, heart-stopping, or whatever other adjectives I've used so far games, this was the most. Lundqvist and Holtby stood on their heads for 68 minutes, until Mike Green's overtime power play goal off the crossbar beat King Henrik and the Rangers to give the Caps a 2-0 series lead. What made this game number one, though, was not just all of this, but the controversy that ensued with the delay of game penalties. First, the Caps killed off a slashing penalty late in the third. Then, right after that, Karl Alzner seemed to have batted the puck over the glass, but the referees decided the puck was tipped (Rangers fans are still crying about that call). Then, less than two minutes into the extra frame, the Rangers did get a power play, when Steven Oleksy went off for delay of game (irony, huh?), which the Caps killed, and then the Caps got a power play when Ryan McDonagh went off for delay of game (I'm sensing a pattern here). Green scored, and Caps fans went home happy.

Honorable Mentions:
WAS @ PHI: Nov 1; 7-0 Caps
WAS vs. BOS: Mar 5; 4-3 Caps (OT)
WAS vs. PHI: Dec 15; 5-4 Caps (SO)
WAS vs. STL: Nov 17; 4-1 Caps
WAS @ NYR: Dec 8; 4-1 Caps

What do you think? Anything else you would add? Any games you would replace in the Top 5? Tell me in the comments.

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