Lost Weekend

A couple hours after a double black-and-gold gut punch left the Caps’ playoff hopes all black and blue, I pulled out of the Verizon Center parking garage to make the long drive home late on Sunday afternoon. I was stunned at the brightness of the sun, but it was also cold outside. I leave a couple of hours after the game, and it’s usually dark even post-afternoon games. It didn’t seem right that the sun would be shining so brightly on such a dark weekend for the Caps and their fans. Had to queue up the Hound Dog Taylor for the ride, just to neutralize the sun a bit.

Lose 2-1 in Boston and 3-2 at home to the Pens? Doesn’t sound so bad. But the Caps needed points badly, and they were minutes away from getting two against the B’s and seconds away from getting at least one against the Pens. They came up empty, their first consecutive regulation losses in more than three months.

In Saturday’s game against Boston, the Caps nursed a 1-0 lead through 55 minutes only to lose when they incurred a slew of late penalties and gave up a pair of 5-on-3 goals. It was the first time all season the Caps had led after two periods and did not get at least a point.

On Sunday, the Caps outchanced the Pens thoroughly for about 50 minutes, but were unable to build a comfortable lead, a common thread in Caps losses this season. The rested Penguins turned on the jets in the final half of the third period and the weary Caps tried to hang on but could not. Losing was bad enough, but it’s much worse when one of your best players puts the puck in his own net, against your most heated rival, on national television. It was a compelling and entertaining hockey game, featuring several of the game’s top young stars, but one that left Washington fans gasping for air with its abrupt and unseemly outcome, even though many longtime Caps followers were likely steeling themselves for such an ending. We’ve seen this movie before.

Washington rebounded well (for 50 or more minutes, anyway) on Sunday from Saturday’s dispiriting loss, and now, in the face of rapidly diminishing possibilities, the Caps must do so again on Wednesday when Calgary visits Verizon Center. Nicklas Backstrom is a terrific hockey player, and he played a very strong game on Sunday, last minute mistake notwithstanding. He might have another thousand NHL games ahead of him and Sunday’s miscue will be a distant memory at some point. Sunday’s game and that play will sting for a while, but Backstrom has a long road of good hockey deeds in his future here. He’ll rebound.

Now the Caps have a dozen games left, and their playoff hopes are on life support. A month ago, everyone was telling me how the Carolina Hurricanes were going to implode after the loss of Rod Brind’Amour. I begged to differ then, and nothing has happened since to change my mind. Carolina has won four straight and is 10-2-1 since a team meeting that followed a 6-1 spanking at New Jersey last month. If the Canes win on Wednesday in Chicago, they’ll become the first team in the Southeast to string together five straight wins this season. The Canes aren’t going to lose the division race; the Caps will have to win it.

As I was driving home, I was thinking that the Caps were like the weather, sunny but cold. Sort of an early spring day. Bright, but not quite as warm as it’s going to get.

Merely having that thought led me to think of the movie quotes video that Brett Leonhardt and I put together a few weeks ago. I find myself thinking and speaking in movie quotes a lot of the time, which is what led to the video piece. Driving home yesterday, I thought of this brief exchange between David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel of the band Spinal Tap in the movie “This is Spinal Tap.”

The two of them and bass player Derek Smalls are visiting Elvis Presley’s grave at Graceland. After a pause comes the following exchange:

St. Hubbins: This is thoroughly depressing.

Tufnel: But it really puts a perspective on things though, doesn’t it?

St. Hubbins: Well, too much. There’s too much [bleeping] perspective now.

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10 Comments on “Lost Weekend”

  1. pgreene Says:

    nothing like a spinal tap quote to make me feel better. thanks vogs. when i saw the spinal tap lead, though, i must confess i was thinking you were going to come up with a paraphrase along the lines of “how much more black could caps fans possibly feel? none…more black.”

    any word out of backstrom? i’m torn between letting the poor kid mourn in peace and someone sticking a mic in his face to get the scoop–how does he feel, what went through his mind, etc. the human in me opts for the former, while the rabid caps fan in me…well, still opts for the former but would at least entertain the latter.

    not even by way of explanation would i conceive of asking him to describe it; my curiosity is more along the lines of “what is this kid made of?” i have no doubt the boys in the room will rally around him. but i’m very interested to know how he’s handling it.

  2. Anthony Says:

    I would have much less problem losing such as we did if it was calgary or someone, but WHY OH WHY against Pittsburgh?

    I honestly don’t get into all of that back and forth crap with the other fans, I just want to watch a hockey game.

  3. Scai Says:

    lol thanks for the quote!

  4. Funkyglovefacewash Says:

    These games were big downers but I still say we’re going to make the playoffs one way or another and I still say OV will score 68-72g. Stop laughing everybody, I’m serious and now I’m going to treat myself to some laughs by firing up my Spinal Tap dvd.

  5. Betsy Says:

    It looks quite grim for the lads, but Ovie still goes to 11.

  6. gusty161 Says:

    All this talk about what dire straits the Caps are in reminds me of another team, a team many thought would contend for the Cup, that suffered an absolutely devastating loss. After blowing a huge lead to a hated long-time rival, everyone thought they were dead in the water with no chance of regrouping. Yet surprisngly, despite what all the so-called “experts” believed, they did regroup. In fact, they ran off an eight game unbeaten streak during which they accumulated 15 out of a possible 16 points. And no, I’m not going back to the 40’s or 50’s to find a ray of hope for the Caps. In fact, I didn’t have to go back more than 30 minutes. I’m talking about the NY Rangers, the 2007-08 Rangers who have gone 7-0-1 in their last eight. 15 out of 16 points would look pretty good right now, wouldn’t it? So the question is, if the Rangers can do it, why can’t the Caps?

  7. Funkyglovefacewash Says:

    Gusty- That’s just one reason why I think we can still make it , we’re a better team than the Rangers and Carolina who have also been on a pretty good role of late . We have much less room for error now but until we’re mathmatically eliminated, it isn’t over and we’re several games away from that . The Bruins & Pens didn’t win those games this weekend , we gave them to those chumps at the end of both contests . The Caps have played damn good hockey under Boudreau and will continue to do so . If there’s a coach that can inspire the kind of winning streak we need now , he’s the one.
    If in the end our efforts aren’t enough , Caps fans can take comfort in knowing that this would be the last time we’ll miss the playoffs for a long time , thanks to the great work done by GM . We’ve endured a tough climb out of mediocrity and are now at the precipice of greatness .

  8. Mike L Says:

    We’re not that far from the ‘Canes. Both teams play tomorrow, a Caps win and a ‘Canes loss, and we’s back to controlling our own destiny. Admittedly, the toughest opponent remaining on the schedule is the one that’s going to be here tomorrow. Still, there are three games left in the homestand, followed by a six game road trip in which the best opponent is the one we need to beat (the other five go from so-so in Nashville and Chicago, to not-so-good in Florida, Tampa and Atlanta). Then on April 1, the Canes come to DC. Hopefully that will be to see who will be in first with a week to go…

  9. Luc Bertrand Says:

    It’s definitely a big pill to swallow, but I agree with Funkyglovefacewash for his conclusion. We are furtunate there has been much parity in the league this year, so the Capitals should not lose too much in the next junior draft. If the standings stays the way it is, there are only two teams who are almost sure of finishing below the Caps: Tampa Bay and St.Louis. If the team gives everything it can until the end, but falls short of the last berth, I am confident we will know well in advance when the race is over for us, so it will still be possible to draft third without having to “ask the players to lose the remaining games”.

    I would like to be as confident you are, but the Caps have never shown a rally comparable to the NY Rangers in the last 8 games. If they did, it must have been at the time they had Rod Langway, Scott Stevens, Larry Murphy at defense and high-scoring guys like Mike Gartner and Bob Carpenter. I agree we are back in the business with Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom, in addition to a more solid goaltending, but there are no real weak teams in the NHL since the new agreement took place.

    Now a few words about the three other topics raised (Backstrom’s mistake, Ovie goal-scoring target and Boudreau’s chances to bring the Caps to playoffs). For sure, it was frustrating to see one of our players give away the game to a long hated rival, but don’t forget Nicklas is still a big contender (if not the first) to Calder Trophy. He has given us a very good season and the fans (and management) have quickly noticed he will be the number one center for the years to come. I trust this mistake is likely to provide him the extra sparking the team needs to propel it in the kind of winning streak it needs to make the playoffs. Don’t put too much pressure on him, this is not his fault the team could be almost written off the playoffs in November.

    For Alex, I’m pretty sure he would prefer making the team to earn the last berth rather than setting a new club record for goal scoring. The way he goes with Backstrom, Kozlov and Semin these days, he should easily match Dennis Maruk’s mark of 60. If he doesn’t, it will still be enough for me if he keeps going playing his inspired way in the last stretch.

    If the Caps are to make the playoffs this year, there’s no doubt Bruce Boudreau is the right coach to make it. Even if he doesn’t, the Caps fans know they now have all the ingredients to go to the end next season and hopefully for the years to come.

  10. Portal5 Says:

    Nothing like a dose of Hound Dog Taylor to cure the post-loss blues! Great musical taste, Mr. Vogel!


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