"The Stack" 5-31-18
Braden Holtby made the save of the playoffs and maybe the year for the Washington Capitals robbing the Vegas Golden Knights of a chance to tie the game late in the third period. The Capitals won 3-2 to even the Stanley Cup Final up 1-1.
The Stack is back on this Thursday and the NBA Finals are here while the Stanley Cup Final is through two games moving from Las Vegas to our nation’s capital. Reaction that game a preview and prediction of the NBA Finals so let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Thursday, May 31st:
Capitals even Stanley Cup Final with Vegas
Washington Capitals Braden Holtby made what very may well be the save of the year in the NHL or at least the save of the playoffs and the Washington Capitals killed a 5-on-3 power play to preserve a 3-2 lead. They would go on to keep that lead and beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 to even the Stanley Cup Final up 1-1. Vegas got on the board just under eight minutes in on a goal by James Neal, but the Capitals responded with both teams playing 4-on-4 later in the period. The faceoff was one by the Capitals, the two players in the faceoff circle fell and Vegas got all out of sorts defensively. A brilliant pass led to a wide open net that Lars Eller would not miss this time. In the second, Alex Ovechkin scored on the power play to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead and they would extend it to 3-1 before Vegas scored a power play goal late in the second period. They applied plenty of pressure throughout the third period, but their inability to score on that previously mentioned 5-on-3 power play doomed them. That was a pivotal moment in the game and I think the Capitals confidence soared after that point not that they didn’t have confidence before, but killing off that power play was huge. Almost as huge as the save by Holtby. Seriously, it was incredible. Vegas had a wide open net and Holtby reached out and blocked the shot with his stick. Absolutely insane. Destiny? Perhaps. Holtby was in the zone all night and he made a lot of great saves. And the Capitals won this game despite losing Evgeny Kuznetsov in the first period. He may not return the rest of the series. They’ve been a much better team on the road than at home so I fully expect Vegas to pick up a win in either game three or four, but this was a great response by the Capitals in game two. Game three is Saturday at 8 PM ET on NBCSN.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Golden State Warriors Act IV 9 PM ET ABC
May I first just say that 9 PM ET is too damn late to start this game, especially when the series shifts to Cleveland next week. Now having gotten that out of the way, this is probably the least compelling of the four straight matchups between these two teams. We were pretty confident that the Warriors would win and sweep the Cavs, but they were forced to win it in five. They were favorites last year and they are even bigger favorites this year. In fact, they are the biggest favorites in Vegas (-1000 for whatever that means) in the last sixteen years. Golden State did not play well against Houston in the Western Conference Finals and I would hope that they would be the first ones to say that. Losing Andre Iguodala did not help and he is not going to be playing game one. Neither will Kevin Love for Cleveland. The Western Conference Finals were the defacto NBA Finals. Warriors versus Rockets was where it was at and what we were all looking forward to. LeBron James is great, but he can’t take on Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant all on his own. No chance. Pretty safe bet by Browns cornerback Damrrius Randall and not so good bet by Joe Thomas. Warriors hopefully are focused and will take care of business in four games so we can end this NBA season.
Predicted winner: Warriors in 4
Coming up Friday: NBA Finals game 1 reaction plus other top stories in sports
Listen to this week's "The Sports Block" podcast here.