So I’m 1-3 in Game 7 Caps games. And somehow, this loss was worse than the others. Of course, every game 7 loss is gut-wrneching. But this one’s worse. Perhaps because I wonder how many more game 7s there will be?
The first game 7 was probably the easiest to bear, partly because it came after a game 7 win. Who could forget Federov scoring against the Rangers to advance to round 2. Bruce Boudreau was the new coach leading the Young Guns – Ovi, Nicky and Green were just kids. The team had basically won out to make the playoffs, it was the beginning of an era. So yes, the loss to the Flyers was harsh, but there was so much potential – it would be the first of many playoffs. There was next year.
The next season, I decided to skip game 7 agains the Pens. Instead, I watched that meltdown at home. (Shades of Monday night ..) Still, the Pens were the eventual Cup winners and the team was going to learn from this. We had the right pieces, it was part of the process. Oh the optimism.
Then came the big step back, but that was after a record-breaking offensive season. I mean, even Schultz was scoring seemingly at will. Yes, the meltdown against Montreal was bad. But I sat right next to the Caps bench and got my picture taken with Brendan Shanahan. I mean, it was the game to be at. We were still the it team. Now I was 1-2 in game 7s, of course. And the team was starting to flounder, we just didn’t know it yet.
The sweep by Tampa the next year – well, that was the beginning of the end of the Boudreau era. Where was the team going? Boudreau wasn’t the answer, but I was pretty sure Dale Hunter wasn’t it, either. That playoffs was a blur.
This year, the shortened season. The debacle at the beginning. The recovery and jet into the playoffs. I believed in the Oates-Ovi magic. We had momentum. Ovi was back. Did I think we would beat Pittsburgh or Chicago? Not really. But I certainly didn’t see us losing to the Rangers.
Yet here we are.
The game started with a bang, Ovi the human wrecking ball. But effort only counts for so much unless you can get results. And the first goal by Asham? I mean who is this guy? Who were these guys who scored?
The worst was the Metro ride home, like a ride of shame. Packed in with fellow Caps fans. The glumness suffocating us. Then we were left waiting there at the station as more heartbroken fans packed on. We just wanted the evening to be over – but there we were, stuck underneath Verizon Center.
So what now? I guess that’s why there’s such a long off-season, to give us time to get over the loss and back into the seats in the Fall. Still, I wonder how many more (post)seasons this team has left. Time is not our friend.