I usually try to avoid blatantly depressing and morbid pixels of shame. So forgive me this item. The past isn’t predictive. Every team makes its own history. This is all just about managing pain.
Thing is, some people are feeling quite optimistic and chipper with the Wizards and Pacers back in Washington for a Game 6 at Verizon Center. Being at home must count for something when playoff survival is at stake.
But famous commenter Barno pointed out to me that this has been a dangerous scenario in Washington in recent years. The Redskins, Nats, Wizards and Caps have combined to go 5-10 in such home postseason elimination games over the past decade or so. And some of these moments — RGIII’s injury, Pete Kozma, LeBron whispering into Gilbert’s ear — have permanently entered our nightmares. Let’s review the horrors.
(This list starts in the spring of 2003, because 11 years seemed to…yeah, I don’t know. Don’t ask too many questions.)
* Lost to Seahawks in 2013-13 wild card game.
Lowlight: “The brilliant rookie season of quarterback Robert Griffin III ended in painful fashion as Griffin, after limping around for much of the game, exited the Washington Redskins’ first-round playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field when he reinjured his right knee with a little more than six minutes remaining in the game.” — Mark Maske
* Lost to Cardinals in 2012 NLDS Game 5
Lowlight: “The defending world champions would not die until they scored four runs off [Drew] Storen in the top of the ninth inning, snatched a 9-7 victory in Game 5 of the National League Division Series and left 45,966 stunned souls to ponder what they had just witnessed: consecutive, two-run singles from Daniel Descalso and Peter Kozma, two pesky middle infielders at the bottom of the Cardinals’ fearsome lineup.” — Adam Kilgore
* Defeated Cardinals in 2012 NLDS Game 4 (Werthquake!)
* Lost to Cavs in 2008 first round Game 6
Lowlight: “Not even a white-clad, screaming, LeBron James-hating, sold-out Verizon Center could influence last night’s result, a 105-88 blowout in Game 6 that gave the Cavaliers a 4-2 series victory. Two nights after Caron Butler gave the Wizards hope by making a game-winning running layup with 3.9 seconds left in Game 5, the Cavaliers overcame a hot start by the Wizards with a 15-0 second-quarter run and were never seriously threatened in the second half.” — Ivan Carter
* Lost to Cavs in 2007 first round Game 4
Lowlight: “Even as the Washington Wizards built second- and third-quarter leads and even as the Cleveland Cavaliers played with a nonchalance that may come back to bite them as their playoff journey continues, an air of inevitability hung over Verizon Center last night. Trailing 3-0 in the best-of-seven series and facing elimination, the undermanned Wizards again played with spunk before breaking down in the fourth quarter and losing, 97-90.” — Ivan Carter
* Lost to Cavs in 2006 first round Game 6
Lowlight: LeBron James whispered into Gilbert Arenas’s ear at the free throw line. Arenas then missed two free throws, and Damon Jones hit the game-winner. Lot going on there.
* Lost to Heat in 2005 second round Game 4
Lowlight: “In a scenario that played out similarly many times this season, the Wizards came back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit and took a one-point lead against the Miami Heat in the final minute. But in the end, they couldn’t keep Heat guard Eddie Jones from launching a contested three-pointer that swished with 14 seconds remaining.” — Michael Lee
* Lost to Rangers in 2013 first round Game 7
Lowlight: “The Capitals’ season ended with an unceremonious thud, shut out 5-0 by New York at Verizon Center in the team’s worst postseason loss since 2000.” — Katie Carrera
Defeated Rangers in 2012 second round Game 6 (Hunter Hockey!)
Lost to Canadiens in 2010 first round Game 7
Lowlight: “Moments after the Montreal Canadiens had sealed a 2-1 victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, not the coach, not his star player, not the capacity crowd on hand at Verizon Center could believe that a season that began amid hopes of a ticker-tape parade down Pennsylvania Avenue had instead ended in ignominy.” — Tarik El-Bashir
Lost to Penguins in 2009 second round Game 7
Lowlight: “By the time the game had reached the halfway mark, the audience was mostly motionless and silent, filled with stunned fans who couldn’t believe what was unfolding before them. Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals were behind by five goals against their most reviled rival en route to a humbling 6-2 defeat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.” — Tarik El-Bashir
Defeated Rangers in 2009 first round Game 7, 4-28-2009 (Fedorov!)
Defeated Rangers in 2009 first round Game 5, 4-24-2009 (Matt Bradley!)
Lost to Flyers in 2008 first round Game 7
Lowlight: “Philadelphia Flyers right wing Joffrey Lupul flipped a rebound past goaltender Cristobal Huet on the power play at 6 minutes 6 seconds of overtime to beat the Capitals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.” — Tarik El-Bashir (Also, add Tom Poti and R.J. Umberger’s names to your bad news Bingo cards.)
Defeated Flyers in 2008 first round Game 5 (Semin + Huet!)
Lost to Lightning in 2003 first round Game 6
Lowlight: “Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis scored his team’s second overtime power-play goal of the series, giving the Lightning a 2-1 victory at MCI Center and concluding this first-round playoff affair in six games….In the end, 4 1/2 hours of hockey came down to a rare too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty and St. Louis’s impeccable knack for finding the net in the clutch…’Things just happen, I don’t know why,’ Kolzig said. ‘Why haven’t the Red Sox won the World Series in how many years?’ ” — Jason La Canfora