Monday, May 11, 2009

David Steckel brings the Caps home for Game 7

Being a Caps fan is not for the faint of heart, particularly, if you've watched this team for as long as I have.  There are two many overtime losses, too many playoff losses to Pittsburgh and too many years that the team was neglected by its owner when they wouldn't put a truly competitive NHL team on the ice.  To this day, I will never forget how badly outmatched the Caps were in their only finals appearance against the Detroit Red Wings.  To have your heart ripped out in the post season seemed like an annual occurrence.  See last year's game 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers for the most recent example.

Then, came Ted Leonsis, General Manager George McPhee and the ultimate gift for a fan, a young Russian rookie named Alex Ovechkin.  Ovie was soon joined by Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green and Alexander Semin settled into playing here and being a Capital with his Russian teammate.  They became the young guns. 

Add to that, Semyon Varlamov, the young rookie net minder who has played six more playoff NHL hockey games than he played in the regular season and generated a .925 save percentage and a 2.28 GAA.  His athleticism and acrobatics in net on some of his saves are eye popping to watch.  And, Varlamov's calm cool demeanor make me sure the Caps have found their goalie of the future.  He's living up to his billing as I've been reading about him for quite some time and saw him last summer at the Caps rookie development camp.

Then stir in the heart and soul players of this Capitals team like Matt Bradley who will gladly take a punch to rile up his team, Brooks Laich who knows how to camp out in front of the net and last night, David Steckel who has played huge, huge, huge in these playoffs with the overtime game winning goal to force game 7 last night after missing his overtime opportunity in game 5. Coach Bruce Boudreau keeps saying Steckel is a big game guy.  I believe him now. 

And what does all of that get you?  The "cardiac Caps" an affectionate moniker widely used to describe these Capitals and it makes it painful for me to watch them, at times.  Like last night.  Ovie thinks the fans enjoy this, but I don't.  I merely want them to win.  And, by a lot of goals.

Instead, the Caps are facing another game 7, another win or go home game, against a team I hate with intense passion.  I thought I'd be okay if the Caps only won one series this year, but I won't.  I'll be heartbroken.  Just like last year.

Let's go Caps!

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