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Oh No, Not Again/Who’s Ready to Believe? April 22, 2010

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

I’m writing this Thursday evening, the night before the Caps take to the ice for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Caps have a 3-1 series lead, have won both games in Montreal, and have outscored the Canadiens by a comfortable margin in this series. Now, the series is anything but over: I’ve developed a respect for the Canadiens that’s perhaps out of proportion to the series results so far. And the Capitals’ historic star-crossed-ness seemed to be on display in a heartbreaking Game 1 loss at the Phone Booth. It ain’t over ’til the handshake line, but you have to believe that the Caps aren’t about to let the Habs win Friday night and force a Game 6 back in Montreal. If the Caps perform Friday night as well as they did in the two games at Centre Bell, they might just win Friday night’s game by an order of wings.

Or will they?

Long-time Capitals fans have been waiting the whole series for the other skate to drop, and there was a lot of instant anguish after Game 1 (including, admittedly, on my part). For a lot of Capitals fans, the reaction to Game 1 can best be summarized as, “Oh no, not again.” A lot of playoff ghosts from seasons past suddenly started rattling their chains, Jacob Marley-style. Home ice advantage given away on the first night of the playoffs? The chains of the past began to rattle: Oh no, not again. And then Game 2 was starting to make those chains rattle all the louder: down 4-1 in the second? Oh no, not again.

But the end of Game 2 was certainly not what those ghosts had in mind, as Nicklas Backstrom finished a heroic overtime hat trick in a DC minute. The ear-splitting din raised by the Red Sea had my ears ringing several hours later, and I could have sworn I felt the building shake as the hats cascaded to the ice. Game 3 turned into a laugher fairly early, and Game 4 was a lot closer than the final score makes it appear. Still, a dramatic finish at home, two big wins on the road, and suddenly the series is essentially the Caps’ for the taking. And yet, I have to wonder in print how many Caps fans are out there, still waiting for those chains to be shaken once more: Oh no, not again.

I would dare use that as a theme for this, but not in the sense you’ve read it in so far. Instead of, “Oh no, not AGAIN?”, I daresay, “Oh no, NOT again!”

Series lead given away? Oh no, NOT again! Bad time for a skid? Oh no, NOT again! Exactly the wrong luck at exactly the wrong time? Oh no, NOT again!

I’ve written before that because of my fairly recent arrival in Washington–insofar as six years can be considered “recent”–I don’t remember the previous glories, but I also don’t remember the previous meltdowns. I’ve only known the Capitals to be a team on the rise, ever advancing to greater success year over year. I don’t look back at previous bright spots and hold them quite so sacrosanct, because that would mean that I believe this team’s best days are behind it. Our better days lie ahead of us: it’s as simple as that.

I do not define the Capitals by previous moments of success that, for many reasons, never brought the Stanley Cup to Washington. While we have our past, our past is not our destiny. I will say it again: our past is not our destiny!

Our present is not merely the future of our past, and our future will not be merely an unsuccessful past made once more present. I refuse to look back; I refuse to have this team’s future forever defined by its past; and I refuse to let the ghosts rattle their chains about this team for all time.

Therefore, I have to ask one question of Capitals fans everywhere: Who’s ready to believe?

Who’s ready to believe that our best days lie ahead of us?

Who’s ready to believe that our past is, indeed, past?

Who’s ready to believe that this team is, indeed, destined for greater glory?

Who’s ready to believe that this team, which we now have, has the skill, the will, and the means to fulfill?

Who’s ready to believe that the past of a glorious future begins with a victorious present?

Who’s ready to believe that this Caps team, with warts and all, can find a way to win it all?

Who’s ready to believe that our time has come?

Who’s ready to believe?




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