Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
The Capitals’ run as the defending Stanley Cup champions is now officially over and while the sting from what could have been will likely linger for awhile, the Caps find their 2018-19 season ended in an identical fashion to the Boston Bruins’ 2011-12 season, in which the Capitals themselves played the villain. The irony does not end there, however. In this piece, NoVa Caps looks back on the parallels and the tables turned.
After a rough start to the 2011-12 season that saw the team fire then-Head Coach Bruce Boudreau in favor of franchise great Dale Hunter, the Capitals entered the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the seventh seed with 92 points and in the way of the then-defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, who entered the playoffs as the second seed in the Eastern Conference with 102 points. In what would become a classic series in franchise history, the team took the Bruins to a decisive Game 7 in Beantown.
That Game 7 took place on April 25, 2012 and in what is one of the most famous games in recent memory, the Capitals downed the defending champs on an overtime game-winning goal from right wing Joel Ward, who had signed with the team as a free agent the previous summer. Flash-forward seven years later and the Capitals, now the defending champs and the third overall seed in the Eastern Conference in terms of points (104) and first seed in the Metropolitan Division, faced the first Wild Card Carolina Hurricanes (99 points) in a decisive Game 7 at HOME, just a day before the seven-year anniversary of Ward’s overtime winner. This time, however, the Caps were eliminated in Double Overtime by the Hurricanes’ Brock McGinn, casting an eerie feeling of irony on the heartbreaking loss.
By Michael Fleetwood