With John Carlson out of the lineup, and perhaps not even returning...
And Here We Lie, 2013 Edition
“Quite honestly, it’s tough to explain. It’s funny how over the years the seventh game turns into some form of blowout.” Coach Adam Oates said after the Game 7 loss. (Photo by Caps Outsider)
I’m fairly sure this was the quickest I’ve ever gotten over a Caps Game 7 loss. In ’08 against the Flyers (the Shoane Morrisonn game), I sat on the couch for at least an hour, not moving as Chick Hernandez blathered on about something on CSN. In the Pens series in ’09, I went for a walk, and after the Montreal series I drove around for two hours.
Within 20 minutes of this one ending, I was okay. Maybe it was because it was over so early (they might have come back from two, but once it got to three, it was good night Irene, and the team knew it), but I think it’s because I emotionally and mentally buried this year’s Caps team long ago. What killed them in this series is what killed them all season-they just don’t have enough skill. Is Marcus Johansson really a first line LW? If this series proved anything, it should be that Mike Ribeiro is not the long-term answer at 2C, which was a giant black hole of possession metrics all season. And the defense… sweet holy Mary the defense. There’s no shutdown pair like the Rangers have with Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. It’s not Karl Alzner and Mike Green. It’s certainly not the Society of Good Johns, Carlson and Erskine (who was a complete, unadulterated, smoking, roaring tire fire this entire series who was playing 20+minutes a night by the end, but hey, he’s back for two more years, so hooray!). And it’s not Steve Oleksy, who has pretty much cemented his place as next year’s Jeff Schultz, and Jack Hillen.
That’s how the Rangers won this series. Once they figured out that the Caps didn’t have the skill or punch to do anything consistently below the circles, it was “get a lead, and then watch them flail away trying to generate offense from the perimeter.” Here goes a shot right into someone’s knees. Here goes a pass that jumps over someone’s stick. Here’s two defensemen playing “you got it, no I got it, no you got it” as a pass sails right in between them. It was maddening, frustrating, and annoying to watch on all levels.
I stayed and watched almost every minute of that mess last night. To paraphrase Bob Cole, I stayed and I took it all. It’s not because I’m some superfan who thinks he’s better than you or some meathead who won’t stop banging on the glass and spilling beer on kids. It’s because I want to remember what this feels like. I want to remember how bad I’ve felt every time this happens, because that’s going to make me treasure it more if they actually do win the whole damn thing someday. Every year I say to myself that I’m tired of saying “maybe next year,” but I’m horrified to be saying to myself now “maybe it’s not next year,” because I don’t want to be “that guy.”
But next year gets no easier. And the team needs some serious re-tooling. All I’ve got is hope, and I’m just not sure it’s enough to sustain me anymore.