I was originally going to gloat about Washington getting knocked out in the first round, but this is a kinder, gentler, more hopeful blog. Besides there are plenty of other blogs currently bathing in Capitals' misery. There was one moment I did succumb to one moment of weakness, texting an "OVER-chekin" message to my buddy Link who is an unrequited Penguins fan.
I'm not totally shocked that they were eliminated. High powered offenses always struggle in the playoffs, especially if they face a team that is willing to do the things needed to stifle run-and-gun teams. Blocking shots, clogging up passing lanes and taking advantage of special teams in a blueprint that has been time tested year after year in the playoffs. Of course, having a goaltender who played out of his skull for the last three games doesn't hurt either.
While I'm not going to resort to gloating I will admit to having an extra spring in my step this morning thinking about all of the poor fans who just spent all that money on their brand new jerseys and spent all that time learning about hockey in the last three months. I guess they'll have to go back to whatever D.C. sports fans did before they realized they've had a hockey team for the last 30 years.
Is it worse for a fan to see their team dominate for a six month regular season and then flame out in the first round or to have a team scuffle all season, barely make the playoffs and then get eliminated in the first round? I'd go with the first option. There is so much anticipation for a team that makes a joke out of the regular season that to lose to a lesser talented team is a harsher blow. When a team scrapes it's way into the playoffs you pretty much consign yourself to a first round loss. Anything other than that, even taking the series to a 7th game, is considered a bonus.
The owner is saying all of the right things, they're not going to panic, they'll take a few days to evaluate before moving forward, etc. However, if I was Ted Leonsis I would definitely have found something expensive to smash. I'm sure throwing a new iPad against a brick wall has a certain cathartic feeling to it.
Speaking of smashing, any chance things were broken in the Ovechkin household? The first round flame out didn't help his cause in the Crosby vs. Ovi debate. Now that Sid is scoring goals and racking up individual awards Alex the Great doesn't have much to hang his hat on. He is still the most dominant individual offensive player in the league, but he isn't able to translate that into team success.
Let's run down the checklist:
Stanley Cup – Crosby 1, Ovi 0
Gold Medal – Crosby 1, Ovi 0
Hart Trophy – Crosby 1, Ovi 2 (will that change this year?)
Richard Trophy – Crosby 1, Ovi 2
Ovechkin is nowhere near the end of his career so there is plenty of time to turn the trend around, but as the years pass by and he fails to win a cup it will become a bigger and bigger story in the media (a la Phil Mickelson never winning a major, John Elway never winning a Super Bowl, Mike Mussina never winning a World Series, etc.). He has to find away to inspire the rest of the team, to make them willing to sacrifice their individual needs in order to achieve team success.
So what should Capitals' fans learn from this season? Maybe that it doesn't mean how impressive your team looks in the regular season if they keep losing in the playoffs. Having defensemen who score 20 goals is cool, but maybe having a couple that block shots would be better. Above all, it's disappointing to get the bum's rush so early in the postseason, but it's not the end of the world. They'll still be a favorite for next season so spare me the woe.
Stanley Cups – Tampa Bay Lighting 1, Washington Capitols 0.