For one night, one memorable night, the Capitals made me proud.
It wasn’t because the Caps won in Boston and disposed of the Bruins in Game 7 to move on in the Eastern Conference playoffs. It was much more about how it happened. For once, the Caps played with heart. That’s how they won Game 7. Heart. They didn’t play particularly well offensively, their best player was reduced to the playing time of a 2nd stringer, and it was easily a game the Capitals couild have lost with one freak bounce or one bad call going against them in overtime. But unlike a few years back when the Penguins bush-whacked them in Game 7 in DC and the following year when Washington choked away a 3-1 series lead against Montreal, this Caps team showed up in the final game against the Bruins.
I didn’t expect the Caps to win on Wednesday. I don’t operate on the concept of “blind faith”, the way some Orioles fans have for the last half-dozen years. I’ve watched the Capitals since 1974 and their history shows that in games like the one that took place on Wednesday night in Boston, “something” always happens to work against Washington in the playoffs.
Last night in Boston, while they didn’t completely exorcise those playoff ghosts of April’s past, the Caps got the job done by refusing to give in.
As a lifetime fan of the Capitals, I’ve seen the club pack-it-in on more than one occasion in the post-season, like last April when they threw in the towel and let the Tampa Bay Lightning drub them in four straight games.
That’s why Wednesday’s win in Boston was special.
I took to the @WNST Twitter account just prior to overtime and authored a comment that basically said, “Win or lose in OT, you can’t find fault with the Caps effort tonight. They showed up in Game 7.”
“Showed up in Game 7” — those are words you don’t often write about the Capitals.
The fact that Joel Ward stuffed that rebound past Tim Thomas was, obviously, the coup de grace and a very just reward for the effort put forth by the entire team, but for one night, “the old Capitals” didn’t show up in Boston and meander through a listless Game 7 that left them embarrassed and questioning the team’s direction.
They might play the Rangers or the Flyers and get swept. I don’t expect them to win the next series, no matter who they play.
But for one night in Boston, I was proud to be a lifelong fan of the Capitals.