Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dreams Die Hard: Capitals Lose Game 7

Penguins 6, Capitals 2

Pittsburgh wins the best of seven series, 4 games to 3.

I'm still a little shocked at this result but the Pens were all over the Caps from the minute the puck dropped. They were simply outplayed by a very good hockey team.

Maybe the young Caps finally felt the pressure despite playing in a game seven prior to this series. A win and they go to the Eastern Conference finals. A couple years ago most of this team (and the coach) was in Hershey winning their league championship. Were they spent from using just about all their energy in game six in overtime just to get to game seven? I don't know.

Tonight the Caps took bad penalties. They were beaten to loose pucks. They made mental mistakes when the team could least afford to do so and the Pens took full advantage of it.

The Caps had the first scoring chance when Alex Ovechkin was stopped by Pens goalie Marc-André Fleury on a breakaway just 3:00 into the game with a brilliant glove save.

I had a pit in my stomach after that.

The Pens had the first power play when defenseman Shaone Morrisonn was penalized for slashing Ruslan Fedotenko. Sure enough, a minute plus into the penalty Sidney Crosby gave the Pens a 1-0 lead.

Eight seconds later the Pens Craig Adams took advantage of a defensive misplay by Brian Pothier and made it 2-0 Pens.

The Caps were shaky the rest of that first period and were outshot 16-5. The second period was a carry over from the first as veteran Bill Guerin made it 3-0 Pens just 29 seconds in. So that was pretty much it for the Caps and rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov, age 21 with just six NHL appearances prior to these playoffs. Can't fault Varlamov as the whole team failed to show up and play tonight.

So the Pens win another post season series vs the Caps. That's seven series wins out of eight played for them. GM George McPhee and Owner Ted Leonsis need to fine tune the team a little this offseason. Instead of being sad about this result, Caps fans need to take a moment and just remember exactly where this franchise was the day the Tampa Bay Lightning raised the Stanley Cup in June 2004.

They were in the middle of a team rebuild, shipping costly veterans for young talent and paying a good chunk of Jaromir Jagr's salary to the New York Rangers, who took Jagr off the Caps hands but not the books for a number of years. I believe the season ticket base was around 4,500 then and some nights during the rebuild the Caps barely drew 10k in attendance.

In other words Caps fans, appreciate what you have to watch now and in future seasons.

Side note: The question is now answered. Which game 7 loss is worse, OT or blowout? My answer: Blowout because around 7:45 I knew the Caps fate and it was hard watching them get pushed around like they were. Last year after the game 7 OT loss to the Flyers, I was down but encouraged after that loss. If the Caps had lost in OT but a round later than last season, I'd have been disappointed but encouraged and thrilled at such a great game seven. Right now I just feel awful after watching that massacre.

That all said, it's been a lot of fun blogging about this team and hope those who check in here enjoyed the pictures I took. I'm excited about the Caps future and Benjamin enjoyed watching some of the playoff action on TV before he went to bed. He loves Ovechkin and I plan to take him to a practice at the Caps facility in Arlington as well as his first Caps game next season. I can't wait!

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