Gen Z Caps Fans Get Their Long Awaited Conference Finals Appearance

Posted May 7, 2018

Written by Brandon Alter and Max Wolpoff

Grab your loved ones and hold them close. Call your friends and scream until you don’t have a voice. Don your red with pride: The Washington Capitals actually defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

This was exactly how it was supposed to go: Playing without not one but two of their best players, on the road, in Pittsburgh – the perennial boogeyman to steal every Washingtonian dream of playoff elation.

For children of the curse, the ones who grew up knowing the teams would bring them happiness while in school and wilt when summer vacation loomed, this victory is a confirmation of something they always believed (at least, believed was possible at some point in history; maybe not this time against Carey Price, or this time against Marc-Andre Fleury, or this time against Matt Murray, or that other time against Fluery). The stupid curse was bound to break at some point. It just had to.

With two men, Travis Boyd and Nathan Walker, making their Stanley Cup Playoff debuts, they stepped up and justified their selection into the lineup. This was fitting as Boyd, 24 and Walker, 24, as well as Jakub Vrana, 22 and Christian Djoos, 23, were also too young to remember the last time the Caps made it past the second round.

Max and I, full of emotions over our 21 and 19 year life times of being Caps fans wanted to know how our generation felt after the game.  Our phones blew up, but there was more. We reached out to those who were featured in our article last year about how tested this generation is.

The reactions of this generation, matched that of others, but not quite the same.

“I screamed,” said Nadiv Panitch. “That was insane.”

“My cheeks hurt from smiling,” said Brennan Jones. “Wasn’t sure it was real for about a minute there.”

The streak is finally over. No DC Sports team has been to the conference finals since 1998 2018. Yes, it matters. Maybe not to everyone, but we have never been here before.

Panitch was relieved, and credited the bounces, that for once, went in the way of the boys in red.

“It’s about time. I think last season we outplayed the Penguins most of the series and this year felt different. Bounces went our way, Holts stood on his head, and the big guys stepped up when it counted. 8 down, 8 to go.”

“Absolutely insane,” added Jones on whether or not it mattered to end the streak.

Ezra Katz puts it nicely, reminding us of how close we have come in years past.

“This was one of the most electrifying nights as a D.C. sports fan. After hearing from Pens fans that last year was our shot, and now beating them, this is one of the most iconic moments for me as a millennial D.C. sports fan. Aside from beating the Pens after this many times, and breaking a 20 year drought, there is an indescribable  amount of pride this win has brought us.”

Both Panitch and Jones lamented that it wasn’t in front of the DC crowd, but were happy the Caps got it done on their first chance.

If there is one moment that can serve as the epitome of what this win means to this generation, it’s this: Two college kids who do not know one another, 500 miles away from 7th and F, stopped what they were doing when we realized we were both Caps fans and just hugged, and cheered  Maybe with a tear of happiness rolling down a cheek In that moment, we did not care about our finals, we did not care about the 8 hour plus drive awaiting us back to the DMV, in that moment, we were one. We were Caps fans We were DC Sports fans. Nothing else mattered. The streak is over.