I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a night with such drastic emotional highs and lows as last night. There was the outburst of joy when Alex Ovechkin tied the game in the third period, followed by the depression that the Caps had blown another game (quick tangent — maybe it’s me, but it seems like every single Stanley Cup Playoff OT game either is over in the first 5-10 minutes, or it takes all night; seems like there’s no in-between). And then we had a whole other non-hockey related issue almost right after the game ended that changed the world we live in irrevocably.
Losing the first two games at home in a playoff series feels like the end of the world, but I don’t think it is yet. I look at it optimistically; two close goal losses caused in part by a terrible bounce off Mike Green’s skate, and another unlucky bounce off Scott Hannan’s stick. And it seems like the Caps are doing everything right. Their power play is getting zone time and getting shots through to the net. They’re getting quality scoring chances and playing solid defense (for the most part). It just seems like Tampa Bay isn’t making any mistakes at all, and the Caps seem to be making all of them at the same time. At some point, you just can’t fight that and you begin to realize that maybe it’s just not your year.
But I’m not ready to admit the latter just yet. Sooner or later, pucks have to start bouncing the Caps way. Someone from the Lightning will make a mistake like Brett Clark in Game 1 or Dwayne Roloson will make a mistake handling the puck (it’s almost happened in two games now). I have to believe at some point things will change and the Caps will be rewarded for their hard work and persistence.
This fan base, more than almost any other, has a pretty hardcore reputation for pessimism, and it’s hard to blame them sometimes because of their experiences with this franchise. But now is not the time to start burying the Caps, because they’re far from dead. The Lightning still have to win two more games in this series, and the Caps will come out firing in Game 3, because they know what’s at stake, especially the veterans. A 2-0 lead has been gained and lost before (remember the Caps led Pittsburgh 2-0 two summers ago, and came within an OT period of making it 3-0, and the Caps also led Montreal 3-1 last season). There are a lot of issues with the Caps that are fixable, and they have to trust in their systems and their gameplan in order to overcome their deficit.
It looks bleak, I know. But it’s far from over. I still believe in our team, and I still believe they will execute and rally to win the series.