BOSTON | Ted Leonsis described the reaction within his suite at TD Garden as “bedlam.” Mike Knuble and Joel Ward put together the winning play in overtime of Game 7, and the Washington Capitals were moving on.
It didn’t even matter that it was a greasy, ugly goal.
“That wasn’t pretty; that was beautiful. I think winning any way you can is what playoff hockey is about it’s always one mistake, one turnover,” Leonsis said Wednesday night. “This play reminded me a lot of the play in our barn. All of a sudden it’s a nothing play. Someone’s in transition and takes a shot on goal its in the back of the net.”
The Caps are in the second round of the playoffs for the third time in the past five seasons. Nicklas Backstrom called it an up-and-down season, understandably, but Leonsis disagreed because of the result.
“I don’t think it’s been a rough ride. We made the playoffs, that’s the goal every year,” the Caps’ owner said. “I think we’ve learned it doesn’t matter where you end the season as long as you qualify. You just look around and Vancouver’s out, Pittsburgh’s out, some of the great teams, and so it’s an honor to move on.”
The Caps will have to wait until Thursday night to determine who they’ll face in the Eastern Conference semifinals: Either the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils or Philadelphia Flyers.
But getting past the Boston Bruins seemed to vindicate the team’s change of style under coach Dale Hunter.
“What we were doing before didn’t work so you have to try something different. We didn’t know if this would work,” Leonsis said. “We got through the first round, we did that last year. So there’s relief and joy but there’s a lot of work left to do.
“I’ll think we improved over last year if we can get through the second round. That’s the goal year after year and this system seems to be the right system to play in the playoffs. To have seven one-goal games and four overtime games, this certainly was the best, most competitive series since I’ve owned the team.”
Some heart-palpitating games in there, too, but that’s not too much for Leonsis to take.
“I’ll take as many as we can get like this,” he said.