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Tampa Bay 4, Washington 2

When has anything ever gone according to plans for the Caps?

May 18, 2018 - 11:57 am
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Tampa Bay, 4, Washington 2. The Eastern Conference Finals are tied at two games apiece. And Caps fans, let me take you back in time. To better and simpler times. Let's hop in the way-back machine and go all the way back to five days ago. To Sunday, when Trotzy's guys were an unstoppable rebel force. Pumping 6 pucks into the Tampa Bay net. Abusing goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, skating circles around the best team in the East, and cruising to a 6-2 win. 

It was time to buy the brooms. It was time to start planning parades. After going into the champ-champs house and ripping the belt off Sid and Geno, a trip to Tampa was a speed bump. Two roadies, two W's, and then two games in front of an absolutely hyped madhouse in the District to punch a ticket to the Stanley Cup Final. It was your destiny right? 

EHHHHHH!

Caps fans, did you really think this was going to be easy? Did you think Tampa Bay was going to just roll over? That your first trip to the conference finals in 20 years would just be some formality? That the highest scoring team in the NHL wouldn't bring their lumber to the district? Hell, that a team built by Stevie Yzerman would all of a sudden turtle after it took two to the chin on their home rink? 

I know it felt right. All those years of the Penguins getting over on you. All those years of playoff heartbreak. Finally shaking that monkey off your back after ripping Game Six in Pittsburgh. 

But here's the thing, nothing is free in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And nobody ever planned a parade for getting out of Round 2. And last time I checked, nobody ever hoisted anything after winning 10 games in the postseason. So while I know a lot of you are getting that queasy feeling that comes around this time of year, here's the good news -- you're still in this thing. Hell, I’ll do you one better. You've still got this.

Is losing a 2-zip lead ideal? Hell no, it's not ideal. But we're talking about the Caps. When has anything ever gone according to plans? We're talking about a team that's never met a moment of prosperity it didn't trip on. We're talking about a dressing room that never feels quite right unless everybody else is breathing into a brown paper bag. And even better? We're talking about a team that's about to get the hell out of the district and board the team bird for hostile territory.

Yes, I said that’s a good thing. The Caps are 7-1 this playoffs on the road. They're just 3-5 at home. Does that make sense? Not really. But then again, nothing this postseason makes sense. Road teams are 40-34. The defending champs went down on home ice. The Preds get blitzed in a Smashville Game 7. And while you can offer plenty of theories -- parity across the league, the wild card format matching up better opponents earlier, less time between games -- all that matters now is that you win 2 out of 3 and get your ticket punched to the dance. 

You know what it's like to match-up against a brick wall. You've seen a goalie stand on his head. And while Vasilevskiy played out of his freaking mind last night, he's also the dude you scored 10 on your last trip to Tampa. You doubled up the Lightning in shots in Game 4. You out hit them. You baited them into countless penalties. You had more scoring chances. And now that you're out of your own barn, maybe you'll cash some of those in. 


Nothing has ever come easy to this team. Other than regular season wins. So while I know you had the brooms out and were already dreaming about victory parades and lifted curses, get your chin off the freaking ground and be thankful you're essentially playing a best of 3 with 2 of those games set for somebody else's barn.  

Because at this time of year, a trip to Tampa usually means Ovi's bringing his golf clubs. And this postseason, the only place better than home, is any place away from home. Or at least if I were you, that’s exactly what I’d be telling myself. Because you come home, and choke away a 2-0 lead, you’ll never live that down. That would be the most Capitals thing ever.