Ovechkin: “Me, Back, the guys that have been here, we don’t feel like young kids anymore. We feel like we have unfinished business. We want to get something done.”
And Green, in a rare candid moment: “I think as we’ve matured, we’ve become closer as a pack and more driven towards [the Stanley Cup] goal. But with that being said, we gotta go out and execute and do it. It’s been a long time waiting. I think we’ve had too good of a team not to win it in the last while. So now’s our time.”
Look, Green was good in this series. And this sport is so unforgiving. One bang-bang play can change the momentum so much. Green was part of that in the first period.
As the barrage on Lundqvist to begin the first period seemed over, Green suddenly broke free by his lonesome, a golden chance to finally rattle the indomitable Rangers goalie who hadn’t given up a goal in almost 72 hours — since overtime of Game 5 on Friday night. How long ago does that seem now?
And here was Green, barreling in on a breakaway, ready to send the building into a state of delirium. Lundqvist stoned him, Arron Asham went the other way and the fourth-liner beat Braden Holtby, who is going to have nightmares about this game the entire offseason, for the game’s first pivotal score.
It was reminiscent of Marc-Andre Fleury stopping an Ovechkin breakway in the first period of Game 7 against the Penguins here in 2009. I still believe if Ovechkin had put that puck home, Pittsburgh doesn’t go on to rout Washington that day.
The fine line between euphoria and depression had the Capitals on the wrong side again. And while the coaches and goalies change, there are only a few constants on the ice — save their individual awards and accomplishments, it’s the Undecorated Big Three.
It all feels so depressingly familiar, almost like walking down a street, hoping the neighborhood has changed — oblivious to the fact a manhole cover has been removed seconds before you fall through in utter agony.
You walk down the same street the next year and fall through again, same time, every May.
Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green are going to realize at some point they need to try another block, another avenue.
Now they are lamenting losing four Game 7s in five years — three on their home ice, two when they were up 2-0 in a series.
Asham this year. Joffrey Lupul in 2008. It’s always some other player, finding a nook or cranny to ruin their season.
This isn’t a catastrophe like Montreal in 2010. As a franchise, Washington is still in good stead. For one, Oates isn’t leaving to coach a junior team in Ontario tomorrow; he did a fine job of coming in after Dale Hunter and getting the primary playmakers to buy in and listen because, well, he actually talked.
But each year the nucleus of the team, especially Ovechkin, doesn’t take the next step, the pressure to advance in May increases and the burden becomes greater. At some point, if they can’t move past this rut, they’re going to look behind them and realize no one wants to walk down that same street anymore with them — too dangerous for the mind and body.
For previous columns by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.