Caps Create Their Own March Madness

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Posted March 28, 2015

(Caps Outsider)

The month of March has been a roller coaster ride for the Washington Capitals and their fans.  It came in like a lion with a big shutout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 1, and with the exception of a huge 6-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, the rest of their victories have been nail biters.  Post season play is in the near future and teams are already cranking it up to mimic the speed and intensity of playoff hockey.  Every game is a “must win” if the Caps are to hold on to a playoff spot.  The Ottawa Senators and the Boston Bruins are breathing down their necks for the a Wild Card position, and the Caps still have a chance to overtake the Pittsburg Penguins or the New York Islanders to hop into the top 3 in the Metropolitan Division.

The month of March also saw injuries to some key Caps players.  Jay Beagle, in the midst of having his best NHL season, was sidelined with a shoulder injury and has missed much of the month.  Beagle suffered the injury when he was hit by New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi on March 11.  Fans collectively held their breath when The Great 8, Alex Ovechkin, suffered a lower body injury but missed just one game against the Minnesota Wild on March 5.

March showed fans the very best and the very worst of the Caps on and off the ice.  They saw Caps pay a home visit to B-Man (Bensten Schone), a young fan with a traumatic brain injury and Eric Fehr reading his anti-bullying children’s picture book to local elementary school students. Just two examples of the many ways the Caps reach out to the community.  On the flip side, fans saw Caps’ forward Tom Wilson slapped with a $2,000 fine by the NHL for his second embellishment penalty.  Agree with the calls or not, it’s simply a distraction the Caps didn’t need heading toward the playoffs.

Coming into Saturday’s matinee against the Nashville Predators, Caps fans look back on a month that has racked up 7 wins and 4 losses so far, with the Caps winning 4 of their last 5 games—not too shabby.  But the Predators are a hot team sitting tenuously atop of the Central Division.

Playing without Shea Weber (LBI), the Predators took a commanding 3-0 lead with 5 minutes left in the first period.  At that point, Braden Holtby was out.  Justin Peters replaced him in goal for the Caps.  The first period ended with a chorus of boo birds as the Caps left the ice–something not heard very often in Washington.  The Caps were down, but certainly not out.  They came back to score 2 goals before the second period was half over.  The fans finally had something to cheer about. The Preds would answer back with another goal, making it 4-2 after two periods of play.  The Caps came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders to begin the third period and got their third goal.  Fans turned up the volume with 5 minutes left in the game hoping their team would do the same.  But it was not meant to be as the Caps fell to the Preds 4-3.

Coach Barry Trotz commented on the Caps’ performance against his former team after the game.

“It felt like two different games today, but I thought we got back into it in the second period.  I thought we played our style, with more urgency then,” said Trotz.  “Now, we have to have a short term memory, let go of today and focus on tomorrow.”

With two more games left to play in March, fans are hoping it goes out with the roar that began the madness and carries over into April to insure post season play for the Caps.  Fans missed it. Fans want it. Let’s just hope we all can take it.