I know what you’re thinking, “not this guy again”… Last year I was convinced that we were going to win the Stanley Cup, and I was wrong. I absolutely think we had the talent, the pieces, the team—we had it all. What I think last year came down to and what this year will come down to is Barry’s ability to make the tough roster decision.
Last year, with Nate Schmidt making a name for himself, Alzner was set to come back. Instead of sitting the older and slower Orpik he sat Brett Connolly and rolled 7 D. This was a move to keep from having to make a tough call with a veteran.
This year has already gone in a different direction with the choice of Grubauer in net, a role he very much has earned. Granted, Holtby has been our guy and I stick by his ability and talent but in past playoff performances he has let “soft” goals in at critical times. 31 has earned his spot on in the crease to start game 1 and shouldn’t have too short of a leash because the popular move would to lean back on Holtby.
You guys know me, you’ve read my stuff, I don’t harp on stats, or corsi, shot differential, or any of that stuff. It is relevant but I use the eye test more than anything. I like the grit we have of the young guys and the experience of the veterans. Will this be easy? Of course not, it will never be easy. It will be a grind it out first round and any round after that. I still believe in this team the way I did when I was three years old, 7 years old, 14 years old, 24 ye…. you get the idea. I’m 30 by the way (feel so old).
I think that people forget that we’ve had a front row seat to watch some of the best hockey in the league for over 10 years. We haven’t won it all but we have made the playoffs all but one lost year with Adam Oates as coach. We celebrated division titles, Presidents Trophies, milestone after milestone after milestone, and that’s just to mention Ovi’s. It has to be one of the most consistent franchises of this era, yet we sit here with out a cup or even a conference final appearance. Why?
We could point to so many different things. All the issues that we have had have been addressed over time and last year was our best and most complete team ever. But still, no cup. How many times can we run into a hot goalie? I’ll let you in on a little secret—we’ve run into one hot goalie. ONE! It’s not the hot goalie, it’s not the effort, it’s not the bad luck. It’s the fact that we were beat, whether it’d be by ourselves or our opponents. Mentally or physically. We were beat.
I’m sick of telling myself and everyone else that “this year is going to be different” because honestly after saying it too many times it loses its relevance. And really, I don’t know if it will be, but I do know that I will believe in and cheer for them every step of the way.
I’ve been a season ticket holder for quite some time and was introduced to a live Caps game at a year old when I fell in love with the sport and the team. I will follow them regardless of where I am and I know a lot of you are the same way. I don’t boo them. Ever. I cheer. I live and die with every bounce of the puck, holding my breath as the time winds down. I will enjoy every last bit of the ride, no matter how short or long it is. I suggest you do the same.
Only one team and fan base is happy at the end of the playoffs. Could it be us? You’re damn right it could!