Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price makes a save against Capitals right wing Jay Beagle. Washington won, 3-2.
(Photo: Jean-Yves Ahern, USA TODAY Sports)
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Watching the Caps in Game 7 was sad. It was just sad. I must admit I was excited to watch the climactic game of the series, especially since I didn't have to cover it for once.
Big screen television, check. Food, check. Cold drink, check. I was prepared to experience red rockin' fever like so many others in this town. Turns out, I experienced red rockin' fever like so many others in this town.
One of my co-workers is a huge Caps fan who spent much of the 24 hours leading up to Game 7 lamenting his team's past failures.
Part of me figured he trying to set himself up for a game day surprise, the elation of watching his team finally come through.
Truthfully, he was simply protecting himself mentally from the inevitable. The Caps flopped in the clutch. We've heard and seen that before.
Pittsburgh (2008-09), Montreal (2009-10), and Tampa (2010-11) come to mind. Instances where the Caps just didn't show up in critical moments. Last season's Game 7 victory in Boston seemed to signal a change. Not! Turns out it was simply an anomaly.
I covered this year's Game Five and witnessed a tough, gritty get-off-the-ropes comeback victory by Washington. Game Six was simply a brilliant performance by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundquist.
Game Seven was embarrassing.
The locker room talk afterwards was predictable. Players said the Rangers played great defense and Lundquist was spectacular again.
Here's my question. How the heck do you allow a team, a visiting one at that, to walk into your building and put the black cheese into your net five times. And you score none? Hard to imagine.
In a series where the difference between winning and losing has been razor thin, how do you lose so badly in THE game? How does a team that averaged more than three goals a game during the regular season score none in the last two games?
How does a team that scores less than three goals a game during the regular season score five in one night?
I get it, unusual things happen in hockey, as well as in all sports. It wasn't just the loss though; it was the way the Caps lost.
After Arron Asham's goal put the Rangers up 1-0, you could feel a collective here-we-go-again from the crowd and the body language of the players followed suit.
Then the second period began. It might as well have been called Caps Act Two: Woe-be-us. The Rangers were flying the Caps were dying. It was as if I had turned the channel to Animal Planet and started watching a water buffalo die a slow death on the Serengeti. Painful!
Here's the tough part. It's hard for management or reporters to really put a finger on why collapses like this happen to certain teams and not to others.
It's easy to dismiss this as just one of those nights. It's easy to think about how the team battled back from such a bad start to make the playoffs. It's easy to highlight Alex Ovechkin's regular season return to Russian Rocket form.
Truth is, none of that matters. This team has a problem. They falter in critical games. Not all of them, but way too many for a team as talented as them. It wasn't Bruce Boudreau's fault.
Officiating in Game Six was atrocious but that wasn't it either.
The Caps had the offensively challenged Rangers on Verizon Center Ice in Game 7 with the backing of some of the loudest, craziest, zaniest fans in the universe, and they fell flat on their face. Again!
Management needs to take a hard look at why that's happening because the act is getting old.