I’m not really sure how I can begin to describe the emotional rollercoaster of last night’s game. Within a fairly short period of time, people went from killing the Caps on Twitter and making their plans for the rest of the playoffs to a state of absolute euphoria.
And man, did it feel GREAT. The story of the game coming in (and probably will dominate most of the coverage henceforth) was Bruce Boudreau’s (completely overblown) comments on the MSG facilities, and their fans responded in turn. I don’t think I’ve ever felt my blood boil as a Caps fan as much as hearing the “Can you hear us?” chants directed at Boudreau after the Rangers scored two goals in seven seconds, and I think some of that motivated the players as well.
I honestly don’t know what happened in the locker room between the second and third periods, but it was a completely different Caps team that came out to play in the third. They stopped blowing coverages and looking disinterested, and most importantly, were finally able to establish something close to adequate attack zone time and pressure on the Rangers. You could feel the air coming out of the building, much like those dumb balloons the Rangers fans kept bouncing around, and the amount of absolute shock taking over the place at what was happening was palpable, even through my television.
But I can’t really blame them for being shocked. The Caps aren’t supposed to win games like these. CSN ran a graphic early in the second OT that showed what the longest Caps games were, and there was history rearing its ugly head again. There was the Ghost of Nedved prancing with the Ghost of LaFontaine along with the Ghost of whomever that Tampa Annoucer was in ‘03 whose “SAINT LOUWEEEEEEEEEE” combination hog and goal call still rings in my ears. Whenever I hear people bring up the Caps, 90 percent of what they talk about (or end up talking about), is nothing but inevitable disappointment and playoff collapse. But I’m starting to feel this team is different. They didn’t lay down, they fought back, and they refused to let the Rangers turn this into a best of three.
Talking heads at the beginning of this series described the amount of “pressure” that would be on the Caps if they dropped a couple games or looked specious at any point. But I have to think that all the “pressure” now is on the Rangers, at least the type of pressure that comes with trying to keep your season alive. I think if the Caps get a goal or two early, it’ll be over. You just can’t have your soul ripped out like that on home ice and expect to survive very long.
So here we are coming up on Game 5, which will be in our town, at our arena. I sure hope the Rangers will be able to hear us.