The Washington, D.C. area has not exactly been the home of champions over the last few decades. Once the football team rusted out in the 1990s, no other franchise stepped forward to win anything.
The greatest hope of recent vintage has been the Washington Capitals, one of four current NHL franchises never to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals tease and tantalize, but then they collapse in a heap of frustration.
Any Capitals fan who watched Monday night’s playoff game against the young and hungry Toronto Maple Leafs is this very day saying the same old thing: Not again.
Having lost to the Leafs in overtime in Game 2 of this best-of-seven series in the first round of the playoffs, the Caps took a 3-1 lead in the second period of Game 3, never scored again and lost 4-3 in overtime. It’s a microcosm of their past lives. They now trail 2-1 in the series and, in a way, it’s old news. They cannot escape their past of flopping in the money games.
Once again the Capitals dominated the regular season, earning the Presidents’ Trophy as the top team. It is their second straight. It is also meaningless. The first time, in 2009-10, they set a club record with 121 points but were upset by the Montreal Canadiens in the first playoff round. Last season they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup winners, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the second round. The Capitals have only been to the Cup finals once, in 1998. That was also the last time they got past the second round of the playoffs.
Maybe the past isn’t prologue. This is the first time in four seasons the Leafs are in the playoffs and their lineup is hardly battle-tested. It’s not over for the Capitals. Or is another crash just beginning?
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman