The Washington Capitals are the Stanley Cup Champions. Doesn’t that sound great? I wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen and this didn’t seem a very likely year.
We had a good season, but we had a good season last year and the year before. But that didn’t stop Pittsburg from stomping us in the playoffs. It seemed like we always played well during the regular season, but when the playoffs came around, the air just went out of our tires. And during the playoffs, you have to increase the intensity of your game. There was a playoff cloud over DC and its fans (and it was a very dark one).
Here is a statistic that will blow your mind. In the playoff, the Caps have had 2-0 leads and 3-1 leads (all they needed was four wins) and have ended up losing 10 times! We sat and watched some of those disasters. But this was a different year.
The Caps started off the playoffs with two defeats in their own stadium. Then they came roaring back. After watching part of their comeback, I said that I didn’t know how far they would go, but they were definitely playing Stanley Cup hockey. What did I mean? I meant that they had increased their intensity through the roof. Wherever the puck was on the ice, there was a Washington Capital flying towards it. It is hard for an opponent to concentrate on making a good pass when a freight train is flying towards him.
You know one team is out playing the other when it appears that they have more players on the ice than the other team. It is an optical illusion, but it is very real. In 1989, the Calgary Flames won the Stanley Cup and I didn’t know the name of one of them. But every one of them played like their hair was on fire. Well, I would like to report that this year it was the Washington Capitals who played like their hair was on fire.
The Pittsburg Penguins have been our nemesis. For so many years the Penguins had ended the Capital’s hopes. But this year was different (it is worth saying twice). And the team knew it (we fans didn’t). The team was going to settle for nothing less than the cup. Beating Pittsburg was just a step towards that goal.
They had to win four rounds to win the Stanley Cup. In each round, they were behind, but came back to win. What a great group of guys. And their captain, Alex Ovechkin, lead by example. He put his body in the way of flying pucks. It is not that hard when your hair is on fire. Barry Trotz, the Caps coach, said with a smile, “I think we have exorcized all of our demons.”
As losers, we Cap fans were heard quite often saying, “Wait till next year.” Now, we Can’t wait until next year, but for obvious reasons.
Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com