Wanting to Root for the Capitals
By Patrick Hoffman
Now or Never?
"The franchise is well run, has a tremendous fan base, and has all the tools in place to capture a Cup."
It really is a darn shame when a professional sports franchise has yet to win a championship.
Just think about all the players, executives, and fans that have dreamed of winning one for years, but have not been able to deliver the goods. It's a familiar story in the professional sports world and one that is particularly hard to deal with for many fan bases.
In hockey, the Washington Capitals are the perfect example of this. Since coming into the league in 1974, the franchise has made it to the Conference Finals just once and yet, has won 10 division titles and 3 Presidents' Trophies.
It has been especially difficult to the Caps the past two seasons. Despite having the league's best record in both seasons and winning the Metropolitan Division both years, the team has failed to come through when it matters most, which is obviously the postseason.
Last season, the Caps dispatched of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round in six games. However, they ran into the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, which the team ended up losing in seven games after being down 3-1 series.
In 2015-16, the Capitals once again advanced past the first round, this time beating the Philadelphia Flyers in six games. Unfortunately, like last season, the club lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, this time in six games.
Year in and year out, the Capitals have lost in the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion. In 2015, they played the New York Rangers in the second round, only to lose in Game 7 thanks to an overtime winner by former Blueshirt Derek Stepan.
In 2013, the team won the Southeast Division, but lost to the Rangers in the first round in seven games after having a 3-1 series lead. The year before, the Capitals lost to the Rangers yet another time in seven games.
All of this has happened despite having great players such as Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, John Carlson, etc., on the roster. The roster has been loaded with talent and yet, has not been able to not only get to the Eastern Conference Finals, but not even the Stanley Cup Final.
This is why this season, we should all take an interest in wanting the Capitals to capture hockey's Holy Grail. The franchise is well run, has a tremendous fan base, and has all the tools in place to capture a Cup.
The team must find a way to get over the second round hump while also figuring out a way to beat the Penguins when the tough gets going in the playoffs. If the team can accomplish that, there is no doubt that they can compete with the best of the best in the league.
It is time to get behind this club and hope they change their fortunes to reward the franchise and their fans for years of playoff hardship.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.