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:
- Is the team healthy?
- Have they recovered their offensive mojo?
- Have they grouted the cracks in the defense?
- Are they traumatized by their recent misfortune or resilient?
- 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?
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Fans, 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.