May 15, 2009
(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. Gone but not forgotten, we've asked for these losers to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here is New York Rangers blogger Scotty Hockey, fondly recalling the Washington Capitals.)
By Scotty Hockey
The Pittsburgh Penguins did what one misguided message boarder wanted to do: kill Alexander Ovechkin(notes). Luckily, they just killed his Stanley Cup hopes for this season. And we stand here today to eulogize those hopes. We shall Rock the Red one last time, before it gets buried in the back of the closet and the brown and yellow of the Redskins is revived yet again for another fruitless NFL campaign.
But we digress.
Alexander the Great has been conquered. There will be no elephant march through the mountains. (Ed. Note: Wait a second, wasn't that Hannibal?) No Segway ride to victory. The almighty rascal of the red, white and blue was forced to submit, as his words came back to haunt him: "Two teams are playing, and not just two players." If it was, then Washington would win: Ovechkin put up one more point than the Cole Harbour Crybaby, 14-13.
Instead, the all-encompassing series to end all series was finished with one glove save on one shot. And that was almost all Washington was able to muster through two periods, as the foul flightless birds waddled all over the Phone Booth ice and made it their own.
When needed most, Ovechkin's brethren disappeared. Nicklas Backstrom(notes), Alexander Semin(notes), Mike Green(notes) ... nowhere to be found. Backstrom had eight points in seven games but came up goalless in the last two. Semin was goalless in all seven. Green also was kept off the scoresheet, only because they don't record goals against. Four assists and a minus-5 rating does not a Norris make. Injury is no excuse as a real man knows his limitations; and if you can't keep up with the Kid, what good are you?
Simeon Varlamov(notes) proved he was no Godzilla. Too many folks handed the (Hershey) Bear-cub the crown of Tretiak, and he discovered it to be too heavy to handle alone. Green and his fellow defenders were certainly little help for him, just as they were little help for Ovechkin. Seven games, one goal from the blueline -- well, two if you count Tom Poti's(notes) Game 5 game-winner for Pittsburgh.
Oh Tom, you old friend, glad to see you keep up that good work. Somehow it was sweet justice seeing you put that in the net, a bit of consolation after the stake to my heart that was you skating off the Garden ice with your hand to your ear. Glad to see that while all dogs have their days, when it's all over, they're still just dogs.
The junkyard dog of the defense, John Erskine(notes), was too battered and bruised to be much of a help. Shaone Morrisonn(notes)? Nothing; well, nothing good anyway. That left Brian Pothier(notes) and Milan Jurcina(notes) to pick up the Langway mantle and stave off Crosby, Kunitz, Guerin, Malkin, Fedotenko, et. al. and they proved that they can't hold a candle to the Korean-born Cap legend.
Even though the odds of Sergei Fedorov(notes) making the Hall of Fame are better than those facing Guerin, it was the elder statesman of Pittsburgh who found new life among the younger legs. Perhaps it was because Fedorov was bounced from back to front and up and down around the lineup, perhaps it was because his career successes haven't left him as hungry as the stint in hockey hell (Long Island) left Guerin. And that hunger, this time of the year, means everything.
Apparently the complacent politicians have rubbed off on the hockey team, because even coach
Mickey Rooney Bruce Boudreau didn't have a clue why his team couldn't get up for the big game. And yeah, yeah, not all politicians are fat cats but the new ones were too smart to jump on the bandwagon. President Obama turned down Ted and kept his option open to Commit To The Indian and root for his hometown Chicago Blackhawks -- you know, a team that actually made the conference finals.
For all of the talk of a John Druce emerging, the closest thing the Caps found was Dave Steckel(notes). Yeah, him. You are right to ask who the hell is that. Believe it or not, he is an oversized former first rounder who had eight goals in 76 regular season games, none in the seven against the Rangers but a big three against the Pens. Two started Washington rallies and the third was an overtime game-winner.
Meanwhile, the man many fans wanted to anoint as Drucian -- Brooks Laich(notes) --- had two goals and two assists. A point more impressive than Steckel but he still went pointless in four games, three of which were losses. Flash Fleischmann did better than expectations but the Caps ended up just like the Rangers in round one: when just one of the top players produce, the result isn't pleasant.
Appropriately, none of the losses were as painful as Game 7. After two days of seducing non-hockey fans into tuning in, Ovechkin's red army crumpled. ESPN News doing live hits all day, actual newspaper coverage, buzz on the streets ... all gone to waste.
All of the hopes of us Crosby haters? Tattered. That flag will be forced to fly in Carolina - a locale admittedly not as inviting as the Phone Booth.
But lament not Washington fans as ... hey, wait! Come back! I didn't realize that there was a new bandwagon and it's heading west! Wait for me!!