Published On: Fri, Jun 8th, 2018

5 unsung heroes who helped the Capitals win the Stanley Cup

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Alex Ovechkin was the MVP of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with either Evgeny Kuznetsov or Braden Holtby likely coming in at a close second.

But the Washington Capitals could not have won their first Stanley Cup without the work from those who operate outside of the spotlight. Here are five names worth remembering as they are etched into Lord Stanley.

Jay Beagle

Beagle gave the Capitals a huge boost with his efficiency in the dot, winning more than 60 percent of his faceoffs while leading the team – and all players in the postseason – in draws.

An exceptional defensive player who lacked a scoring touch, Beagle’s path to the NHL was a long one, as he joined the Capitals as an undrafted free agent more than a decade ago. He now ranks third among Washington’s longest-serving players, behind only Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

Lars Eller


Patric Hornqvist, Kris Letang, and Duncan Keith. That trio of players scored the last three Stanley Cup-winning goals ahead of Thursday’s game, and Eller’s name will now be added to the list after he pocketed the winner with less than eight minutes remaining in Game 5.

Acquired two years ago for a pair of second-round picks, the hope was Eller would offer the Capitals some added stability down the middle. He did that and more in the postseason, during which he chipped in 18 points (nearly half of his regular-season total), making his recent five-year extension look like a stroke of genius by general manager Brian MacLellan.

Michal Kempny

The NHL trade deadline coverage focused on deals involving the likes of Evander Kane, Ryan McDonagh, and Rick Nash, so, when the Capitals shipped a conditional third rounder to the Chicago Blackhawks for little-used defender Kempny, almost no one reacted.

But Kempny was a key member upon his arrival to D.C., where he saw regular minutes under new bench boss Barry Trotz and took in a career high in ice time in the postseason. Not known for his offense, Kempny even chipped in on the scoresheet during the playoffs, including a goal in the Stanley Cup Final.

Brooks Orpik


He doesn’t possess the numbers that make him popular with the analytics crowd, but Orpik’s invaluable intangibles were a key reason why the Capitals are now planning their Stanley Cup parade.

The veteran defender averaged nearly 17 crucial minutes of ice time throughout the postseason and often acted as a second line of defense to Holtby in keeping the puck out of the net. Orpik finished the playoffs with league-leading 88 hits and added 50 blocked shots, second only to fellow defender Matt Niskanen. This marks the second title for Orpik, who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.

Devante Smith-Pelly

Much like Eller, Smith-Pelly’s scoring touch found another gear this spring, as he evened his regular-season goal total of seven. That offensive outburst included a pair of game-winning tallies, with the second coming in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

A depth addition by the Capitals after having his contract bought out by the New Jersey Devils a year ago, Smith-Pelly’s bounce-back season is just one of the many great stories from the Capitals’ Stanley Cup win, and one his agent will be sure to relay when it comes time to re-sign the restricted free agent.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)



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