While you watch…
I made the argument yesterday that tomorrow’s Game 7 in New York could be the biggest game in Washington Capitals franchise history.
After careful reconsideration, I really do think it will be. I just can’t think of a game where they’ve had, simultaneously, so much to gain and so much to lose. Sure, they made it to the finals in 1998. But that team didn’t have the same profile or expectations. And it didn’t play a Game 7 during that run. And it wasn’t given much of a chance of beating a loaded Detroit team anyway. As it turned out, the Red Wings swept.
Anyway, regardless of whether it’s the “biggest” or just “one of the biggest,” we can all agree this is a really big game. With a win, the Caps would advance to the Eastern Conference finals, where they’d play either Tampa Bay or Montreal, two teams that are good, obviously, but beatable for sure. Win that series and, let’s face it, the Ducks and Blackhawks aren’t without their flaws either.
With a loss, they’ll have blown a 3-1 series lead for the fifth time in franchise history, after a season where they made it look like things were different this time.
Bottom line: this particular core of Washington players, led by Alex Ovechkin, may never get this opportunity again. There are 30 teams in the NHL. Half of them believe they have legit Stanley Cup aspirations; the rest are building and stockpiling for the future.
Forget winning it all — just getting to the final four is hard.
Just ask the Caps, who’ve only been there twice since entering the league in 1974.