Is it happening again?
There’s the hope that the Washington Capitals are different now. That it would be unfair to judge this year’s team based on their lackluster postseason showings earlier in the Alex Ovechkin era. But ultimately the only way to get people to stop pointing to a trend is to break it and the Capitals haven’t done that yet.
After winning the Presidents’ Trophy they took a 3-0 series lead against the Flyers, but then Michal Neuvirth entered this series and won Philadelphia back-to-back contests, including Friday’s 44-save shutout. Now his name is starting to be used in the same breath as Jaroslav Halak, who helped the Montreal Canadiens overcome a 3-1 series deficit versus Washington in 2010.
This hasn’t put Washington on an inevitable path. The power of a 3-0 series lead is that you can concede games like that and still eventually deliver the final blow as the Capitals might do on Sunday. Still, you have to wonder if at some point the burden of past failures turns setbacks into dread and a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner doesn’t buy into that, as he asserted that this particular team has no playoff history. Coach Barry Trotz seems to share that sentiment.
“Everybody talks about the past, the past, the past,” Trotz told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “The only pressure we’ll have is on ourselves. We’ll go into Philadelphia and play really well and get a win there. If we don’t accomplish that, we go to Game 7. I thought tonight we played excellent. What are you going to say? You just keep playing that way and it’ll turn.”
Washington needs to believe that if it keeps playing like it did on Friday then eventually it will work out. Unless of course, Neuvirth has more games like that one. In which case, Trotz will once against be listening to questions about the past.