A better person wouldn't be so happy about the Washington Capitals becoming the first Number 1 seed to blow a 3 games to 1 lead to an 8 seed last night. Unfortunately, there's not one available right now.
Caps fans have been assuming the Stanley Cup was theirs by divine right since Christmas. Easily the best record in the league, team records in wins and points, and Alex Ovechkin, their designated "best player in the game." Two weeks ago, I passed droves of Caps fans walking into Metro on my way out, smiling, laughing, wondering if they'd win the best of seven series in three games; yesterday they passed me like men on their way to the doctor to get the verdict on that lump they found on their nuts.
Here's a bit of how they managed such an historic collapse:
- The league's best power play during the season--they scored on over 25% of their opportunities--converted only once in 33 tries. That's 3%. Yep. Three.
- Their league-leading offense--they scored 46 more goals than any other team during the season--scored three times--total--over the last three games. Yep. Three.
- The NHL likes to name its awards after people. The Art Ross Trophy. Conn Smythe. Vezina. Caps forward Alexander Semin qualified himself for anew one in this series: the Claude Rains Invisible Man Award. Forty goals during the season; none in seven playoff games. Yep. None.
- Mike Green bribed enough voters to qualify as a Norris Trophy finalist for best defenseman. Here's another new award suggestion: the Ronald Reagan Award, for most overrated.
Full props to the Canadiens. Goalie Jaroslav Halak stopped 131 of 134 shots over the last three games; his defense blocked almost that many, including an absurd 41 last night. Their Number 2 rated power play during the season didn't desert them like the Caps' did: they scored when they had to, even though consistently outplayed five-on-five. The Habs did what they had to do to win; the Caps did what they felt like doing, and never developed an answer for what Montreal threw at them.
All season, Caps fans have been acting like the Penguins were just renting the Cup, and it would take its rightful place in Washington this year. As I told someone a few weeks ago, after they beat the Pens to complete a regular season sweep: You're the champ until you're eliminated. Everything else is just talk.
Note to Caps' players: It's not all bad news. Most golf courses have reduced greens fees while the schools are still in session.