They've been here before, unfortunately one too many times.
The Washington Capitals started out their playoff hopes strong, with two wins in the books, but then it was off to Madison Square Garden and we all know what happened there. The Capitals racked up two losses at the hands of what’s become the arch nemesis New York Rangers. What happened to the momentum from Game 1 and 2?
The crowd at Madison Square Garden happened, along with several mistakes on the Capitals part, and the Rangers shutting out Ovechkin in both Games 3 and 4. This week, Ovechkin was announced as a finalist for the 2012-13 Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP), along with Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby and New York Islander John Tavares.
Now, entering tonight’s Game 5, thankfully at the Verizon Center, the Capitals will need to shake off the last two games and the slew of critics comparing the team’s current situation to previous playoff efforts gone awry (Yes, I know, I’m doing it too).
But as hard as it is for me to say, if we do go by past performances – 1985, 1987, 1992, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2009, 2010- all were series that the Capitals were leading by at least 2 games and ended up getting knocked out in the end. And even more startling, the Capitals’ all-time record for Game 5s is 10-20.
This is where Capitals’ Jason Chimera will chime in, as he did to the Associated Press, and remind us all, “It’s different teams every year. It’s not like it’s the same individuals every year.” He has a point and obviously you can’t expect the same performance from a completely different set of players.
But here’s the thing, when you area a Capitals’ fan that has witnessed this scenario for what seems like years on end (and my friends can attest to this) you start to feel like once things start to turn south, it’s over. I even heard a guy on the train today actually suggest that if the Capitals had lost the first two games, he would feel better about a tied series. Odd, given that either way you look at it things are still tied up, no?
Thankfully it seems that it’s only those fans, writers, and critics that are doing the worrying. “Everyone likes to make things bigger than it actually is,” Capitals’ defenseman Karl Alzner told the Associated Press. “The fans like to panic a little bit sometimes, but we’re not panicking, and everyone will see that.”
There you go. He’s not panicking. Game on!