For my entire life, three things were inevitable: Death, taxes, and the Penguins will beat the Capitals in the second round. At the time, it almost seemed impossible. You feel bad for a guy like Alex Ovechkin. A man who clearly, puts his all into the game. He clearly lives and breathes hockey. Any hockey fan should have been rooting for him his entire career.
So this year when the Penguins drew the Capitals in the second round, it felt like deja vu. The series would go six or seven and end with a handshake between Sidney Crosby and Ovechkin, and Ovi would tell Sid to go get that cup. It is easy to become naive in that sense. Washington absolutely steamrolled the Penguins. The series did go six games, but Crosby and Ovechkin switched roles in that handshake.
Then they had to play the Lightning, another team destined to get over the hump of underachievement. But, they did worse to them than what they did to the Penguins. They made the Lightning look like an absolute joke and bought a ticket to Vegas to go dancing with Stanley for the first time in 19 years.
They were doubted again. Most people couldn’t fathom anyone stopping the force of the expansion Golden Knights. Every series they were doubted and they came out on top. So, the two teams met. Both having been doubted the entire playoffs, and the Capitals had their eyes on a familiar opponent, Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury had beaten the Capitals three times over his career with the Penguins, each ending with raising a Stanley Cup and it looked as though he would have a chance to do it for the third time in a row.
Washington flipped Fleury’s immaculate playoff run upside down. His save percentage dipped near five percent from the previous rounds of the playoffs. They completely out-gunned the Golden Knights who looked like they were the fastest team in hockey.
After many years of looking like they had the best team. The most physicality, the fastest, the most talented. They won four straight games in the Stanley Cup Final and raised it after only five games. Congratulations are in order because there is quite possible no other group of guys who deserved it more.
Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom spent their entire careers with the Capitals since the beginning of the salary cap era and it is hard to think of many players you would love to see win the cup.
So, after 726 days as Stanley Cup Champions, it is time to hand it off to our long-time rivals. Congratulations to the 2018 Stanley Cup Champions, the Washington Capitals. Do not fret, Penguins’ fans, because once October comes it is a whole new season.