“We’ve been successful in this series because to a man we’ve been buying in with that. Every guy.”
If it wasn’t Knuble turning back the clock, it was Holtby pushing it forward. With about nine games left in Washington’s season, he was trying to make Hershey matter. “My last game wasn’t very good against St. John’s,” he said, sheepishly, referring to the AHL game in March, when he was pulled after giving up five goals.
Asked if he had pinched himself yet in a series where he has beaten the Bruins three times — and made the most clutch postseason save for the Caps since Semyon Varlamov robbed Sidney Crosby in Game 1 of the 2009 Pittsburgh second-round series — he added, “We still got one game left. I can’t even think about that now. Nothing else matters.”
The same went for Knuble, who at 39, with a scar under his right eye slightly more visible than a smaller one, a pock mark under his left eye and the massive, weathered hands of a day laborer, smiled as if he were 22.
“There’s nothing wrong with being a bit happy,” he said. “But the prep begins after we get off the plane.
“There’s no better feeling — maybe the birth of your kid — than scoring a goal in a big playoff game,” he added. “Especially when you know you’re not going to be doing it forever. So when they do happen, third period on the road . . .”
The Bruins must feel like George Foreman in Zaire. They’re the big, bad heavyweight champions, landing all these bombs and just waiting for their besieged opponent to drop. And the Capitals keep bouncing off the rope a la Ali, exhausting Boston by simply repelling the Bruins’ own force.
Heading into Game 5, Boston had on average 10 more scoring chances in each of the first four games. The Bruins have had better scoring chances, too — rebounds that didn’t go in, crossbars that got in the way and, oh yeah, the histrionics of Holtby.
But they can’t shake the Capitals, who are suddenly on the precipice of their own history on home ice Sunday.
Like we said, something is happening here, something beyond heart and perseverance.
For Mike Wise’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/wise.