That the Caps have only one 60-point scorer, Alex Ovechkin, two years after entering the playoffs with three of the league’s top 13 scorers is major culture shock, no? Really, how did Ovi and the boys become the team winding up against Goliath when it used to be the other way around?
If this were the NCAA tournament, Kentucky just morphed into UNC Asheville. The Great Eight now captains a Dale Hunter-coached team that likes to call itself “the Grinders.”
As incongruent and implausible as that sounds after so many 6-2 victories and highlight goals for much of the past five years, it might be necessary.
First- and second-line stars rarely play into June if they don’t have third- and fourth-line role players who occasionally become stars each April.
To beat Boston, Hendricks, Beagle, Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer and Jason Chimera have to become as valuable as Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Semin. Holtby might have to be Halak, circa 2010.
Essentially, the team once known as “the Greatest Show on Ice” now needs to be the grittiest and the grimiest to see what it feels like to be on the right end of an opening-round shocker.
Then, who knows? As Alan May, the Comcast SportsNet analyst and former player, said, “I think the Caps are a No. 1 seed in disguise.”
Can this long, bumpy ride that began in October, featured a coaching change and a seat-of-the-pants thrill ride to even become eligible for the postseason, end with the absolutely improbable? Does anyone see Washington genuinely winning the Stanley Cup this postseason?
“I do,” Hendricks said.
Standing in front of his locker space Wednesday, speaking less cocky and more matter-of-factly, he clarified the thought:
“I think we’ve got a lot of great skill players,” he said. “I think we’ve got a great mix of guys. I can’t say 100 percent what adversity does to a player, but I know in life adversity usually helps you out.”
For Mike Wise’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/wise.