Yes, There Is Hope for the Capitals

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Take a deep breath. Exhale. Believe.
Despite the Capitals 3-2 loss Thursday night at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, there is plenty of room for optimism among Caps players and fans. Here is why: 

1. ​The Crowd Was Electric. Impervious to the ghosts of playoffs past, the sound and fury generated by the home crowd was reminiscent of the “We Are Louder” Playoff Game 5 against the New York Rangers in April, 2011. Caps fans will continue to transmit their positive energy to be absorbed by the players.

2.​ Ice Littered with True Grit. The Caps brutally emerged from the locker room. Fans witnessed vicious hits. They saw their share of players’ selfless body-numbing blocked shots without regard for the physical consequences. The home team out-hustled the Pens to chase down loose pucks. The Caps gave no quarter to the Pens when it came down to the checking game—whether of the fore or back variety. The Pens count on their finesse game. They will wilt when confronted with the painful reality of what the Capitals are capable of dishing out.

3. ​Statement Made and Delivered. A mere 17 seconds after the initial puck drop, the Pens were reeling courtesy of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s skilled and graceful goal. Be attentive to Kuznetsov—we are privileged to witness the ascent of his star as he transforms into the NHL’s elite.

4.​The Great 8 Delivers. Impatient to face the Pens for the third consecutive playoff series, Captain Alexander Ovechkin came to play. He scored early in the third period to gain his 100th point in his playoff career. Do This: Watch Ovi’s body language and facial expressions. Gone, or nearly gone, is his youthful exuberance of prior years. Appreciate his leadership and energy on display.

5. ​Goal Tending As It Should Be. Okay, maybe Braden Holtby would like to have stood on his head for another save or two. But, the goals registered against him—except maybe for one–were products of fluky bounces and deflections. Stung by his late season vagaries, this goalie is playing for his reputation and legacy. He will leave nothing on the ice this time.

6. ​The Underappreciated Pillars. Okay. So they don’t garner the headlines that some do. But pay attention to the strong foundation enabling the shock and awe offense of the Washington Capitals, especially the power play. Without denigrating one iota the productivity of John Carlson, focus your attention on two relatively unsung D-men heroes, namely Matt Niskanen and Dmitri Orlov. Solid. Unflappable. Unselfish. Just the kind of senior leadership the younger guys can aspire to. And while you are at it, how about some love for Michal Kempny? From seemingly out of nowhere he has bolstered the defensive corps. Look for Michal to have a game-changing impact before this series is over. Make no mistake, he is not just another rent-a-player.

7.​ The Intangibles. Sure, the Caps lost a tough one on Thursday. But who amongst the faithful (really) thought the Caps would sweep the Penguins? Except for a five-minute stint early in the third period, the Caps dominated play in most aspects of the game. No finger-pointing, blame-gaming, posturing, or excuse-making after the game. No heads down on the bench or in the stands. No sense of panic. No over-gripping of sticks. No “here we go again.” So Caps nation—get a grip. Create some good karma. Believe in the good guys. Let’s make the DMV a whine-free zone.

When the Caps win, you can remember that you read it here!

By Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy, a consultant to government contractors, has been a Caps fan since 1974. He can even remember the Kansas City Scouts! Jim is an occasional contributor and advisor to NoVa Caps.

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by NoVa Caps (@nova_caps) on

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
This entry was posted in Fans, News, Players and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Yes, There Is Hope for the Capitals

  1. Jon Sorensen says:

    Good piece, Jim…and spot-on.

  2. I wish I could share your enthusiasm Jon, but I don’t…at least not yet…

    For the third time in these playoffs we couldn’t hold–let alone extend–a two goal lead playing in front of our raucous fans while playing against a team that was missing perhaps the third or fourth best player in the NHL in Yvgeni Malkin–not to mention one of the best plus\minus defensive forwards in the league in Carl Hagelin….

    I want this BAAAAAAAAAAD…but whether we have the temerity and inner fortitude to do it against a Pittsburgh team that beats us regularly when it really matters, doesn’t generally beat itself–and still manages to win in spite of themselves even when they ARE off their games–remains to be seen…

    o & o,

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Were you down on the Caps chances following the first two losses in the opening round?

      • The variables in that equation were different. The Caps knew that they could handle the BJ’s as they had all season long; the final score(s) belied the wide territorial edge we enjoyed over Columbus in both of those games and I had a feeling we’d eventually wear them down and catch them–even if it took seven games. And we did it in six…

        As you know, Pittsburgh is a very different animal. Even if we’d won game one against them my level of confidence just wouldn’t be the same because, well, this is still the Pens….even without Malkin…and we’ve yet to prove to ourselves that we can take them down.

        I think we CAN…but until we do the jury is still out …


  3. Sean McCarthy says:

    Jim, Great article. Optimism abound! Can you get a namesake a job? Trying to get back into government contracting.
    Thanks in advance

    Sean McCarthy

  4. Anonymous says:

    Annnndddd it’s 1-0 Pitt

  5. Pingback: After Missing Numerous Practices and Morning Skates, T.J. Oshie Hits the Ice in Saturday’s Practice | NoVa Caps

  6. Pingback: Game 2 Preview: Capitals Look to Bounce Back | NoVa Caps

  7. Katherine Sprague says:

    This is just what I needed to read to keep my positivity flowing and not give into the naysaying and panic. I can’t lie,it DID feel like a gut punch, but witnessing the resilience in the last round after I had given up (I am ashamed to say), I have hope, I believe!!! Being a fan since 1975,at 6 yrs old when my dad took me to my first game, I have been in love ever since 💖💕 and witnessed much heartache, like the”Easter Epic” of 1987😢😭 But I love our Caps, and I am choosing to believe,it can’t hurt, and it WILL happen one day, I hope I am alive to see it!! Great article, thanks for being a true fan.

  8. Katherine Sprague says:

    I forgot to add that we all know that the Caps have won game one 8 outta 10 times, and lost the series, time to change it up… the task is arduous but not impossible, it’s been great seeing the heart that this group of guys have and not letting adversity break their confidence in one another. I am very disappointed at the negativity from Cap fans, hopefully they too, will BELIEVE 💗

  9. Pingback: Capitals Get Rewarded for Complete Effort in Game 2 Victory | NoVa Caps

  10. Pingback: Capitals Get Rewarded for Effort in Game 2 Victory | NoVa Caps

  11. Pingback: Capitals Seek to Take Commanding 3-1 Series Lead in Game 4 | NoVa Caps

Leave a Reply