I've gone through this whole series with seriously low expectations, which has been very good for my sanity. A series where all seven games were decided by a single goal? Eep.
The Caps put Holtby out there in desperation, hoping he'd catch fire. Boy, did he ever. A save percentage of .943? That was better than management could have realistically hoped. Certainly, it was quite a bit better than expected. And thank goodness it was, because there was no margin for it to be worse. This was a series where the margins were so thin, it could have easily been a sweep for either team, just based on one or two bounces in each game.
Hendricks got the Caps started, with a nice deflection of a Carlson shot eleven minutes into the first period. I had to apologize to a friend, who called when that was scored. But I couldn't share the excitement, because I was only five and a half minutes into the game (my daughter had swim class that kept us from being home at the start).
I had just about caught up early in the second, when my daughter decided she didn't want to listen to us any more, so we had to send her to bed early. So I didn't get caught up to the game until well after Boston's tying score fourteen minutes into the second (Seguin was able to poke home a puck that trickled behind Holtby, which three Caps were unable to poke away). In fact, I didn't catch up until the intermission before overtime.
And I guess it was appropriate for the game to go into overtime, but I kept hoping the Caps would win one cleanly.
My low expectations kept me from getting too upset early in overtime when it seemed like the Caps couldn't clear the zone. I didn't even get too excited when they cut back to Ward and Knuble getting a turnover and rushing the Boston net. I wasn't surprised when Knuble's shot was stopped by Thomas, but I was shocked when Ward managed to cut to the rebound and put it into the net. In fact, even after one ref (or linesman, I didn't notice) indicated goal, I was still waiting for a goaltender interference call.
So my celebration was pretty restrained, but my joy wasn't.
I'd like to say something like, "this gives the Caps X days to get ready to face Y', but we don't know who or when yet. All we know is that it will be an away game, and that it won't be at Florida or Ottawa. But, no matter who it is, the Caps have a few days to heal up and recover. They'll almost certainly be underdogs, so let's hope that works in their favor. Again, the pressure on them will be pretty low.
And let's hope that Hunter's strategy doesn't turn the next series into another set of coin flips. If my expectations hadn't been so low, I'd've been ready to kill someone at several points in this series. I don't want to repeat that.