The Washington Capitals are on the cusp of doing something no DC sports team has done for 20 years – advance to the conference final of a playoff tournament. The Caps got a huge win in Game 5 putting them just one win away from eliminating their biggest rivals and getting over the hump that many fans across the DMV have been yearning for. Ironically, the last DC team to get past the second round was the Capitals who did so back in 1998.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 6, 2018
It’s not just the Capitals who have been trying to end the ghosts of playoff pasts. In fact, each of the major four sports teams have had their share of futility since 1998.
The Redskins made the playoffs five times and only posted one playoff win during that era. The closest they ever got to an NFC Conference Championship game came in the 2005 season when they defeated the Buccaneers in the first round, before falling to the Seahawks in the semifinals.
The Wizards made the playoffs eight times with their best playoff run coming a year ago when they battled the Celtics in the second round in a hard-fought series before coming up short in Game 7.
The Nationals, who relocated from Montreal and began playing in Washington in 2005, made the playoffs four times and had a chance to end the DC drought at least three times in 2012, 2016 and 2017. Their best opportunity came in 2012 when they were just one strike away.
In total, the Capitals, Redskins, Nats and Wizards have played in 13 games where a win would’ve meant a trip to the conference finals. They’re 0-13 in those games. Monday night could change everything.
For the last three years around this time, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz has been asked the same questions. Trotz has been known to say that the past doesn’t matter. Not this year. Having been with the Capitals for almost four years now, he knows fairly well by now how much this fan base has suffered, how much they’ve been starving for playoff success. In his press conference on Sunday, he gave the fans one simple message:
“Just get behind us. Please. That’s all I ask. We’re the ones playing. Trust me. I can tell you there’s not a player, a coach, a trainer, ownership, GM who is not trying to do everything they can to win this series. Trust me. We’re trying as hard as we can and at the end of the day that’s all we can promise. Get behind us, help push us forward and we’re going to give you our best.”
“We’re trying as hard as we can. At the end of the day, that’s all we can promise. Get behind is. Help push us forward. And we’re going to give you our best.” — Barry Trotz on how nervous #Caps fans should handle themselves the next day or so. #ALLCAPS#StanleyCuppic.twitter.com/RigaaFeFzc
— Tarik El-Bashir⌨🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) May 6, 2018
On Monday night, we will all come together as one. Whether you were a Caps fan back in 1974 at the very beginning or became a Capitals fan during the “Rock the Red” era, the entire Washington DC area and Capitals fans around the world will come together as one. The Caps may be playing in a hostile environment in Pittsburgh but they’ll be playing for and thinking about us fans. On Monday night, we are ALL CAPS.
By Michael Marzzacco