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On Easter, the Caps, and comebacks March 23, 2008

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

Today is Easter, the day when the Christian Church celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I used to play cribbage with a group up in Baltimore, and one of the regulars’ favorite lines was, “Biggest comeback since Easter Sunday.”  So I thought, in light of both Friday night’s thriller in Atlanta and the Caps’ season in general, that a few thoughts on coming back might be appropriate on this special day.

 The passage I’m going to look at is Luke 24:13-35.  Here, two disciples are headed towards Emmaus, and they don’t quite recognize the Man who’s joining them on their journey.  Jesus asks them what they’re talking about, and the disciples ask him–pardon the expression–what rock he’s been living under that he doesn’t know what’s been going on in Jerusalem the last couple of days.  Jesus asks them to explain themselves, and the disciples proceed to grouse about the Crucifixion.  They then say that they’d heard about the Resurrection, and they even saw the empty tomb, but they didn’t see Jesus.  Never mind that he was the One walking with them the whole time, right?  Jesus rebukes them, and then goes through the Law and the Prophets, all the way from Moses to the maps, to explain why things happened the way they did.

They make it to Emmaus, and Jesus acts like he’s going further.  The disciples beg him to stay with them, as it’s evening and the daylight’s going.  So they go to eat dinner, and Jesus breaks the bread…at which point, the disciples are thinking, “Hey, that’s…!”  Too late–Jesus vanishes from their sight.  The disciples then reflect on what happened on the road, when Jesus was going over all that Scripture.  At this point, never mind that it’s dark outside: the disciples go straight back to Jerusalem, and tell the Eleven what happened.

Now, how does this apply to hockey, and the Caps in particular?

Well, this season began with what seemed to be a horrific defeat.  The Caps stood at 6-14-1 at Thanksgiving, and had essentially been given up for dead.  Stick a fork in ’em, they’re done, and who’s this new bench boss from the AHL?  He won’t last.  It’s over.  Never mind that we’ve got four months plus of hockey left to play, it’s done, it’s over, get ready for your April tee time.

 Then came one of the most improbable–to hear some tell it–comebacks in recent hockey memory.  The Caps went from doormats to contenders, and actually led the division for a couple of days.  And yet, like the Emmaus disciples, there are some who still don’t Believe.  Want proof?  Check out this Game Day Thread from the Caps message boards, about the Atlanta tilt Friday night.  Some of the comments on there are absolutely cringe-worthy, particularly in light of the eventual outcome of the game.

When I think of what the Caps have had to do to even get to where they are now, it is astonishing to me that so many fans are so quick to dis-Believe.  Now, some will point out that before Friday night, the Caps had never won this year when trailing after two.  And?  So?  What the heck is your point?  Doesn’t that mean that they’re due to come back and win one by now?  The Caps have already come back from two-goal deficits earlier this year: they’ve just never been able to do it in the third period.  Well, isn’t it POSSIBLE that since it’s now crunch time, that the players MIGHT be stepping up their games to play the kind of hockey we knew all along they could play?

Yes, Nashville was an escape.  Yes, Chicago was a disaster.  Yes, Atlanta was inconsistent.  But four points out of six on the road is definitely something we’ll take with a smile on our faces.

AND.  Now that the Caps have proven they can come all the way back from a two-goal, third period deficit–against Kari Lehtonen, of all goalies–there is nothing stopping them from running what’s left of the table.  Yes, I am going there.  Friday night was a major monkey off our back: we’ve never come back when trailing after two.  Next stop, Raleigh, where we have been outscored 15-6 this year, and have yet to win a game.  Mark my words: that will change Tuesday night.  This is the first time all year that the Caps are coming into Raleigh off of a win, and that confidence will show in spades when the biscuit drops Tuesday night.  (At least, it had better.)

The challenge I have for my fellow Caps fans is this: having already seen both a spectacular comeback in the standings over the past few months, and a perhaps season-saving comeback in twenty incredible minutes Friday night, are you ready to Believe now?  Or are you still on that road to Emmaus, moaning about this perceived loss or that, and doubting the evidence of miracles you can already see for yourself?

When I did my predictions for March, I said that the season would go down to the wire, and that we would have a winning record for the month.  Well, so far, so right: We’re 7-4-0 so far this month, we are two points out of the playoff picture, and we are five points behind Carolina for the division lead with two games against them head-to-head.  Our season is a VERY long way from over.  I know that sounds counterintuitive with only six games left in the season, but it’s true.  The Caps can make it, and I Believe they will.

My hope for these last six is that my fellow Caps fans can support this team wholeheartedly, without giving up, no matter how bad things may appear at first glance.  This team has overcome so much adversity for so long that it saddens me to see some of my fellow Caps fans still on the road to Emmaus.  My message to my fellow fans, at its most succinct, is this: Believe in the miracles you have already seen.  This team has made some improbable comebacks this season, and it may need one or two more before the dust finally settles. 

Our task, as a fan base, is to support this team, win or lose, leading or trailing.  Yes, losing sucks.  Yes, it’s not fun to see the Caps trailing after two.  But to see my fellow Caps fans conceding the season after two periods on Friday night was disgusting.

The Caps stand poised to do what no NHL team has ever done: come back from 14th place at the mid-season mark to make the playoffs.  It would be one of the greatest comebacks in hockey history.  Today, Christianity celebrates the most spectacular comeback in human history.  I think that as fans of the Washington Capitals, we should take the spirit of this holy day as a lesson for our hockey fandom.  We need to quit whining on the road to Emmaus, and open our eyes to the miracles we can already see.





1. june - March 23, 2008

Happy Easter to you!

2. Mike - March 24, 2008

Great post! Very thoughtful, and I love the way you incorporate Scripture into it! Congratulations! I Believe, on both counts!

3. CapitalSpirit - March 24, 2008

June, thanks for the kind words.

Mike, thanks for a polite first post, and thanks for Believing. Here’s hoping some of that spirit and Belief carries into Tuesday night’s game in Raleigh. It will be the single most important hockey game I will have watched in my short time as a Caps fan. They can win, of that I have no doubt.–CS

4. Lorne - March 25, 2008

The Caps have the potential to make the playoffs and even advance in the playoffs. With or without though, I don’t want fans to not recognize that one way or another this season has already been a success. Before one can contend, one must first reach respectability. Our Caps are certainly at or beyond that point. Our family believes. We’ve even signed up for our playoffs tickets and renewed for next year.

We’ll see you at the games. My son is the one (or at least one of the ones) that you let play with your lights. My only fear at this point isn’t not getting in. I almost know they will. I just don’t want the Penguins in the first round. Not because of the match up, but because their fans create such a terrible environment.


5. CapitalSpirit - March 25, 2008

Thank you, Lorne. It’s good to see more people coming out of the woodwork to say that they believe. I think that there’s been a little too much cynicism in some quarters of the fan base at times, and I’m hoping that as things continue to improve for the Caps, that that cynicism can be laid to rest. Pipe dream? Perhaps. Worth pursuing? Definitely.

I’m hoping we don’t get the Pens, either, but if we do end up drawing them, oh, well–let’s look forward to Ovechkin beating Crosby in games that are a heck of a lot more important. Regardless of our opponent, however, I know for certain that this team will come to play, come time to play.

6. Danny T. - April 7, 2008

Danny T….

Wow! This was a really enlightening article….

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