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Steckel-Laich-Bradley Line a Winner

Here's an excerpt from Barry Svrluga's story on that winning combination of David Steckel, Brooks Laich and Matt Bradley:

When Brooks Laich found Matt Bradley on the right wing Saturday afternoon, more than 13 minutes had elapsed in the first period of the Washington Capitals' Eastern Conference semifinal against the Pittsburgh Penguins. To that point, the Penguins had 11 shots, including a goal. The Capitals had managed two shots and looked listless.
Bradley, though, took the third shot, firing from the corner on Penguins goalie Marc-André Fleury. He blocked it easily, but couldn't contain the rebound. So here came David Steckel, the 6-foot-5, 222-pound behemoth charging down the left wing. Steckel muscled the puck past Fleury, the game was tied, and suddenly, the Capitals' doldrums were done.
"I think we didn't play well [in the] first 10 minutes," Capitals star Alex Ovechkin said. "Only one line played well. It was Steckel line. They scored our goal, and we feel life."

Click here to read the entire story. Still to come tonight: Tarik's game story, a story from Dan Steinberg (plus Bog stuff) and a column from Tom Boswell. And more.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  May 2, 2009; 6:17 PM ET
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Next: Boudreau on Varlamov: 'He Owed Us One'


No doubt about it, BB putting this line together halfway through the Rags series has to be up there along with making the goalie switch as one of the top reasons we've turned around our play in the playoffs. Having a 3rd line that is generating this much energy to say nothing of the better than expected offense is a big key for us to go further in these playoffs.

Green still looks like he's trying to find out where he can join some rushes offensively in playoff style hockey. Our other 3 of the 4 big guns are all putting up numbers...Semin (5g, 5a), Backstrom (9a), and Ovie (4g, 4a). We didn't exactly get a lot of PP time today (don't tell Matthew Barnaby at espn that, he claimed our PP was a factor all game) so perhaps if we are able to draw a few more penalties we can see Green start to find out when to give himself the green light a little more.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | May 2, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Btw, Crosby does seem to have a quote where he gives Varly credit in Burnside's blog about the series.


I know we love to hate him because he's Ovie's "opponent" and it's Pens/Caps...but the guy played great today and he was probably just frustrated after a 1 goal loss, his comments in that link show some praise.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | May 2, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

As soon as Steckel scored, I knew we would win. When we start getting goals from the 3d and 4th line, you know the whole team is playing together.

I thought Clark played really well also. I see him scoring very soon.

Posted by: caraveli | May 2, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Write an article about Varly. I want more Varly stuff.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 2, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

It stood put to me that the two Penguins fans behind us in our section were not the boorish, profane, loudmouths that I've come to expect. They cheered for there team, which is fine. I hate the fans (ours and theirs) that get in the face of other fans as if the game is played outside the glass. It was refreshing to see fans with class. Granted, they seemed to be the only Penguins fans around us in 423. Still, it was a good thing. We go to these games with our two kids and you never know who will be around you.

Posted by: lornemyoung | May 2, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm fine with Green not putting up offensive numbers, as long as he buckles down in his zone.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 2, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

sorry cut off the first letter of the link the first time. Crosby's quote is near the bottom. He praised Varly's mental toughness. Strap in for a great series everyone...

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | May 2, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse


Agreed, I just worry he gets down on his play if he isn't contributing offensively. We didn't exactly have an "embarrassment of riches" as far as PP opportunities went today, just hoping he can get a little more into the flow if we can draw a few more calls.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | May 2, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Once again the NBC crew couldn't hide their pro-Pittsburgh slant. Did I hear Milbury right when he said cindy is "just as physical" as Ovie? What is he smoking? And listen to the replay of Varly's save and hear Olcyzk (sp?) screaming over and over "they gotta review that..." Those guys are tools. I hate the NHL on NBC.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | May 2, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the Penguins PK isn't quite as good as the Rangers. Hopefully Green will activate given the chance.

Semin was working the point when we scored that PP goal though.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 2, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

That line was huge.. out of nowhere.

If they can outplay the Staal line, it's a HUGE boost to the Caps, since Pens fans were talking about using the Staal line to cancel one of Caps top 2 lines and then having basically 2 scoring lines against 1. Not so fast, crippled birds!

Posted by: VladG | May 2, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse


On 5 on 3's I notice the big guns will rotate around the outside a lot more trying to create lanes in their wake and for some set plays. That one certainly worked well enough...such sick hands that slap pass was pretty darn good, eh?

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | May 2, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Thankfully, we're done with the NBC slant for a while. Except for a few defensive breakdowns, Caps played a solid game. Varlamov has ice water in his veins.


Posted by: FancyDan | May 2, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

was that green that lost his man and was twisting around trying to find the play when varlie made the save?

laich makes the lines he plays on better. good to see brads and stecks having such good games.

Posted by: am_jim | May 2, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh man, what a great game! Finally got to go to one in verizon, going to MSG made me appreciate it and the crowd even more.

Bad beginning in the first, were totally dominated. Why is it that our boys seem to have a hard time getting of together in the first? Dangerous trend! This line saved us, and Varly was out of this world. Couple of situations in the 3rd where his rebound control could have caused problems but our D was tight. Beautiful end to the game, huge pk in the third (not sure if the pens even got a shot on goal in one of their PP).

All in all great game, they just gotta figure out how to get fired up BEFORE the first starts.

Posted by: mrszilla | May 2, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, NBC sucks, from the angles they show, to the screeching voice of Mike Emrick, to the bias in their voices. I swear, they complained about the Caps and the Pens defense 95% of the game. NBC really sucks, and I'm glad there are no more games on it.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 2, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

It's so lovely to see Varly's face in 3 of the four categories, he's close to being in all 4. The Caps are all over the "stats league leaders"!! =)|STS|League

Posted by: rachel216 | May 2, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Got back from the game (and just got home, after a Saturday evening church service and then out to dinner).

Enjoyed the game. I did NOT have any feelings of foreboding even though I hate the Pens more than any other hockey team.

The first period reminded me a great deal of the first period of Game 7 of the last series. The Caps had almost no shots on goal while the Pens had quite a few shots on goar and were only down by one goal. Then Steckel scored his goal when it was only the third shot for the Caps. (I was thinking about the similarities of how the game was going just before Goal #1 scored.)

Then things got better for the Caps. A PP goal on a 5 on 3. The Pens tied it up in the second but then Flash got his go ahead goal and the Caps tightened up their D to finish things up.

Great win!

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 2, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse


"It's so lovely to see Varly's face in 3 of the four categories" Yes, it's great. I can't believe that out of the 8 categories they show for league leaders, 6 are led by Caps players. If we keep it up, I don't see the Cup as an impossibility.

But Rachel, you'd better watch it with Varly. Neuvy will get wind of all your praises and get jealous. We don't want him defecting to the Pens or some other hated team.

Posted by: caraveli | May 2, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Caraveli: lol! Y'all love teasing me about Neuvy, but I love it! I'm cheering for Varly up here and for Neuvy down in Hershey eqaully as much. Just wait until Varly & Neuvy are the ones leading the team. Neuvy has no reason to be jealous, he knows I love him more. :)

Posted by: rachel216 | May 2, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

CAP-lanta & rachel216,
Couldn't agree with you more about the NBC commentary. Way too much focus on what either team should have done. I've also noticed that when time expires for the team on the power play they become 'full strength' according to the graphics. Coupled with the horrible commentary, lack of reviews of penalties and pivotal moments it's no wonder the casual fan doesn't 'get' hockey. GO CAPS!

Posted by: HappyWeagle | May 2, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

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