Washington Capitals press their luck with yet another Game 7

The Washington Capitals have faced the frightening prospect of failure — and then failed spectacularly– as often, as infamously, and usually as comically as any pro team in sports in the last 30 years.

But they have never had quite the chance to fail as badly as they do on Wednesday night at Verizon Center. Before you can avoid such a fate in sports, you have to acknowledge it and face it. You can’t leave it standing behind you, tapping you on the shoulder.

In the last 25 years, the Capitals have blown a two-game lead in a playoff series six times. All six times, they finished in a total tailspin, losing either their last three or four straight games.

But if the Caps squander a two-game lead for a seventh time, this time against Montreal, they will break new ground. No top-seeded team has ever blown a 3-1 lead to an eighth-seeded team.

Normally, this column stays 100 miles away from pep talks. But, frankly, I’m sick and damn tired of the same Caps choke story. It’s beyond old, beyond sad, beyond undeserved. Eventually, no response — commiseration, castigation or comedy — applies.

Ignore the Caps’ losses in Game 7 at home to end their last two seasons. Painful as they were, and fresh in mind, they barely move the capital punishment meter. Return to ’03, ’96, ’95, ’92, ’87 and ’85 if you want pain. I re-read my columns on all of them. It’s incredible: six seasons that ended with a combined 20 straight defeats (with 12 losses at home) after gaining 2-0 or 3-1 leads.

One year ended on a triple-overtime power play after a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty. Another year died after 73 saves in quadruple overtime by Kelly Hrudey. A Caps team with the second-best record in the NHL blew a 3-1 lead over the Pens. In the first period of yet another Game 7, the Caps allowed a 130-foot, unmolested, end-to-end, one-man scoring rush just 97 seconds into play (two Caps defensemen knocked each other down). Then, later in the same period, the Caps shot the puck into their own net.

Repeat as needed: “This is not the same team.”


35 Responses to Washington Capitals press their luck with yet another Game 7

  1. hockey_lover says:

    Really good article.

    Im pulling for the Habs. Dont know if they can do it but Im pulling for them.

  2. DannyLeafs says:

    I am somewhat torn. It's really hard to not root for a Pens/Caps conference final, but at the same time, it's hard not to love the idea of Halak standing on his head yet again, and witnessing one of the greatest goaltending performances in league history. If Halak can win another game where he faces 40 plus shots, it would be simply amazing.

    Either way, I think it will be an entertaining game. Although, if the Caps score a couple early, it could really take a lot of the drama out of it.

  3. Boston_Bruins says:

    Although I naturally hate the Habs, I have to cheer for them. The Bruins not being the underdog in the second round as a 6 seed would be crazy. It would be intriguing to face the Pens (even for the sole fact that the vastly superior CBC would cover the game), but it would be stupid not to want to face the Flyers over the Pens.

    If I wasn't for that I'd be cheering for the Caps to win 100-0.

  4. Boston_Bruins says:

    If Washington loses this game I think you have to consider them San Jose Sharks-East, with Semin and Green fighting over who gets to be Joe Thornton.

  5. mojo19 says:

    Would be Semin.

  6. Boston_Bruins says:

    Yeah probably but Green can't be overlooked. Especially considering his defensive play looks like it's gotten worse this series.

  7. reinjosh says:

    Thats saying something considering it wasn't great in the first place, even if it improved this season (although I will point to Schultz more than Green on that point).

  8. leafy says:

    Advantage Washington. They've got the home crowd which is huge in Game 7s.  The Habs also rely a little TOO much on Halak.

    If anything I'm rooting for the Habs because the playoffs are more interesting to me when original six teams are in the playoffs. But it's going to be tough tonight.

    How about that Halak? The man gets no respect. Dominates hockey games with stellar goaltending yet he still somehow has to prove himself constantly. But he doesn't complain. Just quietly goes about his business and stops the puck.

  9. leafy says:

    How about those Red Wings last night?  Totally outclassed the Coyotes.

    Earlier in the series, I thought the Coyotes would take it because they seemed so much more energized and hungry. But as the series went on, the old Wings finally showed up.

  10. cam7777 says:

    Yes, and their penchant for massively advantageous refereeing returned with them. That was without a doubt, the worst officiated game I have seen since last year's Detroit/Anaheim playoff match.  Like wow.  Just awful.  Holmstrom throws a guy to the ground, and the other guy gets a penalty?Refs also conveniently forgot what interference was again last night. 

    What really killed the Coyotes though, was Shane Doan's absence.  In the first game of the series (another poorly refereed game), they actually had to start giving Doan bullshit "charging" calls to try and temper is insane aggression.  He fired that team up huge, and his loss was too much to overcome.

  11. misacampo says:

    congrats to the habs on that huge upset, and hal gill is a beast

  12. leafy says:

    Wow! I'm shocked and humbled by the Habs stunning upset of Washington.

    I'm one of those dudes who confidently predicted a 4 game sweep for the Caps.

    One of the biggest upsets in recent Stanley Cup memory.

  13. leafy says:

    A couple of former Leafs, Gill and Moore, hooked up for the game winner.

  14. leafy says:

    Now now…let's give the Wings some credit. They were clearly the better team, even though I'm sick of seeing them around in the late playoff rounds as much as the next person.

  15. leafy says:

    Tonight's win by Montreal definitely ranks up there with some of the biggest playoff upsets in the past 40 years.

    Here are some upsets I compiled:

    Montreal upsets Boston – 1971

    Montreal upsets Chicago – 1971

    Leafs upsets Islanders – 1978

    Rangers upset Islanders – 1979

    Minnesota upsets Montreal – 1980

    LA upsets Edmonton – 1982

    Calgary upsets Edmonton – 1986

    Rangers upset Philly – 1986

    Islanders upset Pittsburgh – 1993

    San Jose upsets Detroit – 1994

    All the San Jose series since 2002!

  16. Boston_Bruins says:

    Crazy stuff with the Habs upset. The weirdest thing was that even with all the shots, Halak really didn't have to make that many big saves. Awesome performance by the Habs defence.

  17. Boston_Bruins says:

    Pretty sad effort by Carlsson on that goal. So much for rookie enthusiasm.

  18. leafy says:

    The Bruins have a good shot at beating the Flyers. They play way better defence than Buffalo, and Philly is missing both Carter and Gagne.

    A rematch of the classic 1974 Cup Final. Bobby Orr and the big bad Bruins vs Bobby Clarke and the Broad Street Bullies.  Well maybe not a blood-bath like back then, but a good series.

  19. leafy says:

    You're right. This was different from Game 6 when Halak had to stop shots at point blank, one-timers, partial breakaways, and screen shots.

  20. mojo19 says:

    You're right, and he was terrible tonight. Green is a ***** up

  21. Boston_Bruins says:

    This one still could get pretty chippy. The main thing that could work in the Bruins favour I think is the refs now surely hating Carcillo and likely not biting on his antics. When he's doing his job drawing penalties and agitating he's like Kaleta x2, which isn't very good for the opposing team.

  22. mojo19 says:

    Regardless of refereeing the Red Wings would have won that game. Zetterberg, Filpulla, and Bertuzzi make up a lethal line, and Datsyuk finally showed up to the series, he was absolutely amazing.

  23. mojo19 says:

    Somewhere Paul Maurice is smiling.

  24. mojo19 says:

    great list leafy.

    I'll add Minnesota coming back from 3-1 against Colorado in '03, and then repeating that feat in the 2nd round against Vancouver, that was a magical run to the final 4 by one of the biggest underdog team's ever. Only to be completely blanked by JS Giguere in the greatest goaltending display in NHL history (1 goal allowed in the entire series).

  25. leafy says:

    Sorry I meant to say the Bruins play better defence than New Jersey, which clearly has problems with their defensive core.

  26. leafy says:

    I now understand why Green wasn't at the Olympics. He's obviously lost his form from the past couple of years. Maybe he's got some kind of nagging injury.

  27. Boston_Bruins says:

    I don't know about that. The Devils allowed the least amount of goals in the league (bruins were #2). It's hard to "out-defence" a Lemaire coached team. And Wideman and Hunwick were turning over pucks all year. They've stepped it up for the most part in the playoffs though which is good.

  28. leafy says:

    Oh that's right. 2003 was full of upsets. Also don't forget Giguere's perfomance against Detroit in round 1, and a stunning 4 game sweep for Anaheim.

    It's harder to find huge upsets in the modern era because of parity.

  29. leafy says:

    All right, my prediction for the Finals. I've seen all 8 remaining teams play. No excuses.

    I'm calling for a Chicago-Pittsburgh final. Rematch of 1992.

  30. mojo19 says:

    Ya that's true. It is a lot harder for big upsets these days.

  31. reinjosh says:

    Didn't lose his form. He's just ridiculously overrated.

  32. Boston_Bruins says:

    I like Chicago vs. Detroit in the WCF and Pittsburgh vs. Boston in the ECF. My brain agrees with your Stanley Cup matchup, but my heart says it will be the Blackhawks taking on the Bruins, where the Bruins sweep them and Bobby Orr comes out of retirement to pot the Cup-winning goal, or something like that…

    I will be pissed if it's the Wings and Pens AGAIN. If I'm not mistaken 3 times in a row would be the first time in history, even with the six-team leagues. Let someone else have a turn.

  33. hockey_lover says:

    haha .. that Bobby Orr thing was good man 😛

    I was talking with a buddy of mine the other day about the finals. Despite the fact that I am a Pens fan, Id be pretty "aw christ, again?" with a Pens/Wings final for the 3rd time as well.

  34. Boston_Bruins says:

    Hey, it could happen! Just have to hope Clarke doesn't come out to stir things up.

    I mean it would be impressive if that finals happened, but I might be a bit disinterested. Them getting there might be cool to see but the finals itself… not so much. They've clearly stated their dominance over the hockey universe so some new teams would be nice to see.

  35. kilter says:

    i said the same thing at the beginning of the season,but i,m not so sure about Chicagos goaltending pulling them through,and maybe my Habs have another mind blowing performance in them…lol,ya never know,love playoff hockey…GO HABS GO!!!!!!!!!

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