Can’t Lose

It’s a red letter day.

The three days since the Capitals 7-0 loss to the Rangers have been the most tumultuous the franchise has seen since the playoffs. In the interim we’ve talked about getting a new goalie, not getting a new goalie, dumping Bruce Boudreau, not dumping Bruce Boudreau, the curse of HBO, statistics so grim they seem actuarial, the colloquial and literal meanings of “going dark”, and the faintest glimmer of hope.

Tonight is the most important night of the Capitals’ season so far. Facing off against the Ducks at 7 PM, the Caps finally have a chance to end their six-game losing streak. At 10 PM, HBO will air the first episode of 24/7, reportedly including the team’s nadir in the form of Bruce Boudreau’s profanity-laden timeout speech at MSG. By this time tomorrow, we should have answers to all our questions:

  1. Is the team healthy?
  2. Have they recovered their offensive mojo?
  3. Have they grouted the cracks in the defense?
  4. Are they traumatized by their recent misfortune or resilient?
  5. Have they gotten Joe Beninati to burn that cursed green suit?

And most important of all: will they play the sport like they love it?

* * *

keepCalmAndCarryOnFans, I urge you: despair not. This really is the team you thought it was after all. Led by the most dynamic and exciting player in the sport, the Washington Capitals have within themselves an bottomless font of great hockey. To tap into it, they need only summon up what Brooks Laich called passion and hard work, but what you and I know is just loving and enjoying the game while you’re in it.

The Panic Protocol was a gag, but you already knew that. The world really is not doom and gloom, and these are not the end days of the Boudreau administration, merely its greatest challenge. For you and me, this is just the story we’ll retell in nostalgic tones between generous swigs from the Mug of Victory. Sometime in June.

That was when the team had its back against the wall, an army of cameras peering at it, and a raincloud constantly overhead. But they turned it around. By playing the kind of hockey we always knew they could.

You and me: we’re the stalwarts. We might waver and we might clap sarcastically from time to time, but we do not falter. Not ever.

Some define faith as an irrational belief, but there is nothing irrational about our belief in the team. They’re the best, and now they’re going to prove it.

Semyon “the Savior” Varlamov starts in net. Mike “Game Over” Green is back in action. The “heart and soul” of this team, Matt Bradley, will serve on the third line. Hershey hero Andrew Gordon is in town. And Captain Alex Ovechkin leads them into battle.

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.

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  • Dawn

    This is a beautiful piece, Peter. It made me all misty-eyed and heart full of pride. :) Let’s go, Caps! <3

  • http://make-lemons.com michelle

    GO CAPS!!! :D

  • Holly Golightly

    PETER!!!!!!!!!!!!! YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! This was fantastic! You DO have a soul!!!!!! LET’S GO CAPS!

  • Salvatore

    What happens if they lose tonight?

  • Tom

    @Dawn: We call that “Brucing” (that is getting misty-eyed with Caps joy/pride)!

  • Em

    Will be at the game, and I’m already excited! LET’S GO CAPS!

  • http://www.irockthered.net/ IRockTheRed

    @salvatore Then they play their next game. No streak is sustainable indefinitely, and the sun rises anyway.

  • Lindsey

    This is reminiscent of every inspiring speech in every sports movie, ever. I commend you for your optimism, Peter.

  • Kay Sieck

    Peter, I am a fan from Spokane, Wa. My daughter turned me into a caps fan on a visit to see her. I know how important it is to be optimistic and I am hoping that A. Gordon will be able to help the team tonight.

    Keep up the good work, this is a wonderful piece. I miss this kind of writing in the media.

    Let’s hope the coach reads this to the team. Inspiring comes to mind!

  • Fedor Fedin

    Why did you call Ducks “Mighty Ducks” in tag? Is it intentional? They are just Ducks for like 5 years now.

  • Peter Hassett

    Fedor, that’s the tag, and they are still widely called the mighty ducks in the US even though it’s not the official name. Mike Vogel called them the Mighty Ducks just an hour ago.

  • http://www.sweetesthockeyonearth.com/ Kyle M

    You do know if we win we have to keep the site this way until they lose again.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian

    @Kyle M – That’s a… good point. We really didn’t think this through very well.

  • CDizz

    Let’s put Maruk and Bondra in! Yeah!

  • BobbyG

    Great work as usual Peter. I’m wearing RED–fie on any superstition–eager for the Caps as a team to do exactly as Brooks Laich said. They have to draw down deep within themselves and find their passion again, why they love hockey so much, and then do proper homage to the sport by putting out nothing less than their best effort. If they succeed, they will make the Ducks look like a cooked Christmas goose.

    GO CAPS!!!

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