Sunday morning when reading the Washington Post and Katie Carrera's preview of Game 3, I had a Harry Doyle moment. Harry Doyle, as you may recall, was Bob Uecker's character in the movie Major League.
I know that when it comes to hockey playoffs, history is not on the Caps' side. If they are the underdog, they seldom pull off the upset. If they are the favorite, well, they seldom do as they are supposed to do.
But I never really paid attention to records or statistics. I just have a general feeling of trepidation when putting "Capitals" and "playoffs" in the same sentence.
I know, generally speaking, that a 3-1 series lead or 2-0 series lead isn't safe in DC.
But, one thing Ms. Carrera poignantly called attention to in her preview is that in the 5 total seven-game series in which the Capitals have held a 2-0 lead,
the Caps are 1-4.
"That's all we got? Is one goddamn series win?"
While the league's historical rate for closing out 2-0 leads is 86.6% (266/301 - WaPo), the Caps are lagging that slightly with their 20% success rate.
Ain't that some shit.
I mean, I remember 1998 vs. Ottawa. Hell, I was at Game 2! I had just returned from college and an old teammate invited me to the game. Boy, we stomped the Senators that night!
If I had known at the time that I would be witness to the Caps only 2-0 series lead that would result in a series win - I would have done something memorable.
I was under 21 and the "Phone Booth" isn't a college bar, so I wouldn't have gotten drunk. And I probably wouldn't have set anything on fire. That would be arson.
But I would have done something, dammit!
13 years later, we try for that lofty goal of converting on a 2-0 series lead (in 7-gm series) for the 2nd time in franchise history.
And we have encountered our first setback. The Caps will not win 16 straight en route to their first Stanley Cup. There will be no sweep of the New York Rangers (would have been franchise's first sweep in a 7-game series).
The Rangers didn't seem to do anything different. Maybe there were a few more pronounced porn 'staches. Also, instead of Sean Avery being a pest, Sean Avery and Brandon Prust were pests.
Neuvy seemed a bit rattled though. I thought he would have just ignored. He has ice in his veins, right?
The Caps never had the lead. OT seemed likely, but Brandon Dubinsky had something to say about that.
So rather than rest comfortably for the next three days, I live in fear. You see, in playoff hockey, the result clouds the game.
Maybe today wasn't a New York Rangers blow out. Maybe the Caps came out a little flat and a little sloppy, but responded and played a decent enough game. They still could have won.
But they lost. So it feels like Armageddon is upon us.
And now you have to look back at Games 1 and 2 and say those games were pretty close as well. So maybe the Caps were fortunate to win those games.
But they won those games. So it felt like the Stanley Cup was coming to DC.
Thus the series stands 2 games to 1 in favor of DC. I would like to think that Game 3 will serve as the proper wake-up call.
The Caps will become hungry again. They will take no shit from the Rangers on Wednesday night. Game 4 will be much more smooth for DC.
I mean seriously, if the Caps can't get motivated to kill the Rangers in Game 4, then what business do we have talking about the Stanley Cup?
Rather than let an inferior team with inferior tricks succeed against DC, the Caps will calmly remind the hockey world that John Tortorella is a one trick pony, Sean Avery is a douche, and New York as a whole is overrated.
I see no reason why this won't be the case. I have faith in my team. I have faith in Neuvy.
And after Game 4 is done, the Caps should have a stranglehold on the series with a commanding 3 games to 1 lead.
Of course, by my count, the Caps are 2-4 (in series outcomes) in which they have held a 3 games to 1 lead.
The ONLY two series in franchise history that the Caps have converted a 3-1 series lead into a series win took place in 1998 (vs. Ottawa and Buffalo).
I guess the bright side is that when the Caps get off their rear ends and decide to do something with the series leads, they go far in the playoffs.
But really. As we all know, the only 3 games to 1 series lead this iteration of the Caps has seen, it pissed away to Montreal last year.
Speaking of Major League, I'm going to make like I'm GM Charlie Donovan meeting with Owner Rachel Phelps and go chug some Mylanta straight out of the bottle.
Someone please remind me that past performance is not a predictor of future behavior?