How the Caps Celebrated
After Brooks Laich had addressed about 732 media members tonight, and after I made him repeat himself yet again in the hallway, everyone turned off their recording devices and went to find someone else. Laich just stood there, smiling.
"What a game, though, eh?" he finally said as he walked away. "What a game."
This was Game 6. Game 6 isn't usually about sheer goofy-grin-spewing jubilation. Game 6 is about "we've got one more game to go, and we're not celebrating yet." Game 6 is about "we know how serious is the task ahead." Game 6 is about cliches. Except here's how the Caps described the winning moment.
"I mean, that was the biggest goal that I scored in my career so I didn't know what to do," David Steckel said. "I just started jumping around."
"I couldn't get over the boards quick enough," Mike Green said.
"Just an eight-inch vertical leap," Coach Bruce Boudreau said, describing his own reaction. "It's getting higher. Each game that's more important, I leap a little bit higher."
"To be honest I just turned around and saw the nearest guy," Laich said. "It was Tom Poti, and I just about leveled him, the poor guy. It might have been the hardest hit he took tonight. I left my feet, so it would have been a penalty, too. Just elation and excited, grab the nearest guy and hug him to death."
"Well, it was fun, you know?" said Viktor Kozlov, aka Nice Drago, whose face showed more fun than his quotes. "I'm very excited with everybody else."
When Nice Drago is admitting he's very excited with everybody else, you know someone misplaced the Game 6 script.
"By the time they get on the plane they'll be all business again," Boudreau promised. "You allow them the 45 minutes now to really enjoy and to soak this in. it's been a long time since we won an overtime game in Pittsburgh or even prolonged a series when Pittsburgh was able to beat us. We've been hearing about it for two days, pretty constant, so for those guys in the room it was a pretty nice feeling."
So by Tuesday we'll be back to the standard-issue stuff about forgetting the past and only one game mattering and the work still left to be done. Others flipped the switch quicker. Here's Nicklas Backstrom, when asked his first thought after the lamp lit up.
"Game 7," he said. "Absolutely. I mean, we have to."
"I think we've got a Game 7, that's all we were thinking about," added Sergei Fedorov, reading off the official transcript. "We're gonna shift this series back to Washington--I think that was the most important thought process. Obviously we were very happy, but we have a lot of work left ahead of us."
Sure. Sure, that's true. But we've had the NHL's three leading playoff point scorers, three overtime games, five one-goal games, six straight taut third periods, a massive media contingent, record-breaking TV ratings and way too many group hugs to count. For one more day, let us enjoy the grown-men-acting-like-little-kids bit.
"I didn't know that it went in right away" Laich said. "And all of the sudden the benches cleared and I just rushed over and it was just a mob and you're kind of out of control."
Green actually got his bound-for-the-Hall-of-Fame Easton Stealth stick delivered. A couple Caps staffers who were driving to the game lugged the stick along--the last of its kind, since the stick is now discontinued. But Green didn't use it. He said he now got used to the newer model, which he started using in Game 1
Game 7 Destiny
This was, apparently, inevitable.
"I mean, there was a lot of [hype] before the series started, and it's everything it was made up to be," Sidney Crosby said. "Let's just say I'm not surprised it's going seven."
"I think league wants us to play seven games, Pittsburgh-Washington, so they got it," Alex Ovechkin added. "Fans probably happy, too."
"I kind of had a sense before the series started it would go to Game 7, and here we are," Green said. "But as far as an encore, I'm not sure. It's gonna be a great game, that's all I can say."
"I think a lot of people will want to watch Game 7," Boudreau said. "I was telling a couple people after the game, this is so good for our game. I mean, when the best players can shine on a bright stage like this. I just wish it was for the Cup."
Backs Against the Crumbling Wall of Brick Destiny
This morning, the Caps called for Uber Desperation. By tonight, they had delivered. They're now something like 151-1 over the past two seasons when facing elimination. (Ok, it's actually 7-1, counting last year's regular season finale.) Why does it go down like this?
"Any time we're put in a desperate situation we really step our games up as individuals, and therefore as a team we succeed," Green said. "I don't know why we wait until we put ourselves in a desperate situation, but it seems like we do."
"The message was it's our turn," Boudreau said. "If we can just stay the course, we'll get a chance, we're gonna get a lucky break, we're gonna get a lucky tip, it's our turn. And you've just got to believe."
"Well, I think how I said before the game," Ovechkin said. "Everybody understand, it's time to play hard. Play hardest," he corrected himself.
See image of Ovechkin after playing hardest here.
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