So. Here we are. The Caps’ long, strange trip to the playoffs wasn’t easy, not by any stretch, and their first round opponent doesn’t look so easy either. We know what’s behind us – a roller coaster season of consistent inconsistency, and we know what’s ahead of us – the defending Stanley Cup Champions are big, physical, and chock full of talent. So this probably explains why hockey’s literati almost to the person predicts a Boston win for the series. We don’t put much stock in that, of course. We don’t because we’re homers. Homo homers to be precise.
We look at the Boston match up as a series of If – Then statements: If Ovi, Sasha, and Nicky fire, then we’ll be OK. If we can match them physically, then we don’t get pushed around. If our special teams perform, then we’ll have a real shot. If we put rubber on that creep, Timmy Thomas, get in his head and face, then we’ll score moar goals. If we crash the net, you know the rest. And it’s Timmy and his counterpart at the opposite end of the rink that we think this series revolves around.
Long, Strange Trip: The past few months have been a roller coaster for the team and fans alike. As the regular season was winding down and points were becoming ever more precious, the playoff picture was coming into focus for a lot of teams that were not named the Washington Capitals. That sucked. The last month or so was a teeth-grinding, butt-clenching, freaky-outy nightmare. Night after night, we saw our playoff chances dissipate in loss after loss, points squandered, a team in name only, flailing about the ice with no apparent sense of mission or urgency.
Early Morning Skate: Our doctor advises those of you with heart issues, temper problems, or who are prone to premature catastrophization to avoid watching the Capitals Thursday night. In fact, why not just turn the TV and iPad off and curl up into a little whimpering ball right now.
The rest of us? We few… we lucky few… are ready for, and this is no hyperbole, the single most cosmically important game for any team since the beginning of time. That said, will the Capitals be ready as well?
The other Nick Backstrom. (Photo credit: Doug Benc)
Healing Breath: So alright, everybody feel safe now? Good. Now, everyone, breathe in….and blow it out. Good; that’s good. And let’s just stick with “blow” for a moment, shall we?
Friday was basically the Mir of hockey games (look it up, noobs.) We all watched, incredulous, as our Hero Caps slung their way to 3-0, only to slump to end 4-3, mostly during the last third, as the flaming wreckage fell back to Earth. Honestly, that last stanza? Blowing chunks all over that very pretty, expensive Verizon sheet. In a phrase: everybody was Byfuglian-en.
OK, cleansing breath now; suck it in….and, blow it out. Blow hard…good.
The Pregamer: As a cure for our Capitals PTSD (Post Traumatic Suckage Disorder) we slopped out to Kettler today to see just wha’ what was up with the what wha’. We learned several things.
Pre-après-Game: PuckBuddy Craig sorta demolished me with his last post, mixing the most potent juvenile jeers (“You smell like butt“) with contemporary culture (The Godfather) and hockey insights in the juicerizer that yours truly has been refining for months.
Whaaa…butt why dat? Well, because Craig, unlike Doug, went hunting for a stick-tap from Uncle Ted on how brilliant his pregamer was. Nice. No matter that he stole from me for months – blogging versions of the Winnipeg Head-Crash – or that I’ve been telling our opponents they smell like ass since October. But , boohoo, what’s an obvious foul between frenemies?
I kid. And yet in seriouslyness, between these partners there is no other game that divides the PuckBuddys like Monday’s test of the Caps against the Wings.
“What Wha?” There are some things that just aren’t said aloud.
The Pregame: Hey now; any you guys see that show on the teevees, “Doomsday Peppers” or something? You know, the one where seemingly pleasant enough, if overwhelmingly white people happily share their crackpot theories of why the world will end any minute now and how they’ll survive by stocking their compounds with bullets and pig dung? Good times.
Meanwhile we in America’s Hockey’s Capital are not so much having da good times of late. I’m thinking closer to the pig dung. Or better – remember those snobby nuclear scientists with their finger-waggling about nuclear Armageddon, bringing us down during the happy heydays of Ronald Reagan and “Family Ties” with their elitist Doomsday Clock? (Kiddies: go look it up while we drink our Metamucil.)
Yeah. Sitting here, looking at Thursday’s game and the remainder of the season, it feels like five minutes to midnight…with the clock ticking. And here’s us, without a stockpile.
Want more feel good snuggles? Keep reading.
This is a test. This website is conducting a test of the Emergency Capitals Broadcasting System. This is only a test.
The Pregame: Crazy… you know crazy? Not like “dingo ate my baby” crazy, or “I love Dan Snyder” crazy, but like, Groundhog Day crazy? As in: not only have I seen all this before, but I recall the precise taste of last week’s warm beer and bitter defeat? And why am I tasting it again? Am I at the Mystery Spot?
You have good reason. Here we are, thinking back to Friday’s collapsing defeat on the tail of a hot performance or two (or three), wondering what went wrong, how it could have happened, and what encouragement we might have to offer. Alan May: help us!
And suddenly we’re seized with deja vu; worse, even – not that we think we’ve sorta kinda been here before, but that we’ve been exactly completely here before, several times, right down to Alan May tossing us the lifeline of straight talk, to have it fall on plugged ears.
The PreGame: Close your eyes for a moment. Now fling your head out the window.
Wait. Stop that. Open window, fling head, close eyes.
Better. Breathe deep…deeplier deep. Now, what do you smell out there? Summer? Winter? Victory? Streak?
Us? We get mulch, daffodils and notes of flattened street rat. But we much prefer these others. Summer – remember buoyancy and cautious cockiness? Winter; well, early winter means Christmas, and Christmas last was a Capsmas miracle against the Devils, so thank you Baby Jesus!
Victory? Contrary to Maj. Kilgore, victory doesn’t smell like napalm in the morning. Rather it’s a man-handling of the Habs, a swift start and sustained margin against the Leafs, and a ‘You-Ain’t-Gonna-Win” sass against the dreadful Islanders, all in a row. Yum.
And Streak? Actually, we haven’t really smelled that this year for a long, long time. But still, I think I might recall…
The Pregame: Strap in, ladies, because here we go. Good news and bad news. And you know which doesn’t come with fancy French nibbles. Radishes for you.
Ugh, here’s the bad. Over the next five+ weeks, 20 nights, every one of you will be simmered into a jersey jelly of slimy aspic. Demi-glacé, oui? You get it: a trebling, molten slop of hope and desire and fear and torment, exactly as smelly as that sounds, and with no escape possible, all watching on the stovetop that is the Capitals’ next 20 games. Stupid French chefs.
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