A sea of red, a deafening crowd, the throes of defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. This is the life of a Washington Capitals fan. The venue was packed to bursting, the crowd in an uproar throughout the game, and yet none of this mattered. They are the same Washington Capitals they have always been, and will ever be. The heartbreak kids. They give you hope, they let you believe and then they fall to pieces.
Late in the third period, the Capitals tied the game at three, after surrendering the lead on a terrible play with too much traffic in front of 3rd string goaltender Braden Holtby (who is easy on the eyes for all the other ladies out there). The thuggery has hit an all-new high, and the refs have decried that the Bruins are free of fault in all things, which includes lead-thug Milan Lucic who spent the majority of the game picking fights with anyone wearing red.
Washington’s stars burned brightly, goals from the two Alexs and a three-point performance from everyman Brooks Laich (a goal and two assists). Braden Holtby played his weakest game yet, but even then, that should have allowed the team some small sliver of hope. This was foolish of any to believe in.
One of Washington’s best players accrued three penalties, one in each period, finishing the night with a rare match penalty, which is accompanied by an automatic suspension and hearing by the commissioner. To say the Capitals were the better team is actually without question, their skill players are far superior, but what is making the difference, other than the uneven officiating in all playoff games, is the will to win.
The Capitals don’t believe in themselves. They allowed the Bruins to bully them, out-hitting them by a wide margin. Fights were aplenty as the game continued; matching roughing penalties were handed out during the final two periods on more than one occasion, giving the illusion of even handed officiating.
It is unfortunate that the refs take the front seat in a game of this magnitude, but it isn’t unusual. What troubles me more is that the Capitals repeatedly put themselves in this situation, knowing they are undermanned at the outset, and then play without thinking, and suffer the consequences.
I still believe the Capitals can win this series, but I hope the NHL front office explains how to officiate a game to the referees, so perhaps the Caps can have a fighting chance.