It’s hard to unleash the fury when sometimes all it amounts to is letdown and monotony.
Emotions are all over the place. It becomes personal. We want to believe they might pull it off, that Alex Ovechkin meant it when he said he grew up and learned not to hurt us again. We play the old, this-time-things-will-be-different game.
Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter couldn’t climb the mountain, but Adam Oates knows what he’s doing, right? We tell ourselves Oatsie is the great hybrid of Gabby and Hunts, an offensive wizard with strong defensive principles to back it up.
Ovechkin, Green and Nicklas Backstrom aren’t the young guns anymore; they’re the aging howitzer: smarter, wiser, getting more sleep, taking better care of their bodies, yet still with the flare and firepower to rattle an elite goaltender. They’ve learned their lessons painfully, but the experience has made them want the ultimate victory so much more.
This could be the year, we know it. It’s all right to go back on the ice. They won’t let us fall through and freeze this time. Honest.
And nearing 7 p.m., we either shuffle into the building, show up at the sports bar or turn on the television at home, adrenaline coursing — partly eager for the puck to drop and the hope to begin anew and partly scared the end is very near again.
Though the Ovechkin era has never given us so much as a berth in the Eastern Conference finals, we don’t care. Their uninspired play in Game 4 might be telling us to get out before we get burned, but we’re all-in-again suckers.
And if they do get by the Rangers, the same trepidation and tumult happens the next series. They have trained us to be leery of anything good that happens.
There are simply too many trust issues that have gone on way too long with this franchise to believe deeply in the viability of raising the game’s grail. But then, there are too many glimmers of greatness to back out now.
Either way, we’ve been talked back into a volatile relationship, excited it could finally work out but frightened of the pain we know too well.
Not until they’re up two goals with five seconds left in the deciding game on the last night of the hockey season will we ever really believe with all our heart.
But we also know that if that moment ever comes — when we actually get to spend the night with Stanley and the commitment is cemented forever — it’s going to be so damn worth it.
I mean, that’s how it would be for all of you. Me, I’m just hoping to write a dispassionate story about an inanimate object.
For previous columns by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.