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Resolution April 23, 2012

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.
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I normally don’t riff on just one song.  I’d like to think I’ve got more to say than that, but my recent post count would seem to indicate otherwise.  That said, what I think about Game 7 on Wednesday night can be neatly summed up in one song.

For those of you who have never heard of VNV Nation, do go check them out:  they’re a treat.  Their lyrics run the gamut from heartbroken to ticked off to exultant, and most of their recent work has tended to end on a high note.  Yes, life sucks–and losing a clinching game at home REALLY sucks–but Game 7 is Wednesday.  And if the worst should happen there–not intending it, but if it does–the Caps would be back in Washington in a couple of months, which is more than they can say for sure in Phoenix.  All things considered, we’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

And considering that the road team has the better record in this series–both visiting squads are 2-1 on the other’s ice–I doubt I’m alone in thinking this is far from a gimme for the Bruins.  If the past half-dozen games are any indication, this one could easily go either way.  No worries, Caps fans.

Anyway, my theme for this post is going to be “Resolution”, which you can hear here.  I’m going to type out the lyrics, and inline my comments to them.

No pride to feel, no waiting country; no parades to line your way.

Wednesday night will not be the end; it will not even be the beginning of the end.  All it will be, is the end of the beginning.  There will be no victory parade for the Caps if they win this one; just a second-round series with an opponent to be determined at this writing.  This is merely a step, not the entire staircase.  It’s not over if they win; but if they lose, it will be.

Though your hands may bleed, and your body may lie broken, every storm must soon give way.

Playoff hockey is nothing if not tough.  And Boston is a team that plays nothing if not tough.  There are no doubt a lot of bumps, bruises, and ouchies of every sort going around the room.  And yet, this is the price to be paid for ultimate glory.  At some point, the playoffs will be over, win or lose.  The question is whether the Capitals have it within themselves to ride out the storm.  Pain is temporary, and also-rans are soon forgotten; but a Stanley Cup championship is forever.  The storm must give way; but will the Capitals pull through?

The rage you feel will consume you and destroy you.  Let this rage inside you die.

Here, I would not advise mellowing out against the Bruins.  Keep that competitive fire going, to be sure.  But the whole “This team has never won it all” and “The Caps have never beaten the defending champs” and “What a waste in Game 6!” needs to get the kibosh right now.  Either team could win Game 7; it’s as simple as that.  This series has been closer than a boot camp shave for half a dozen games, and Game 7 is likely to be more of the same.  Quit with the “woe is us” talk, and let’s focus on winning Game 7–both the players on the ice, and Caps fans lending their spiritual support.  If we rage about the past, we’re finished.  It’s that simple.

One day you’ll find the signs in every motion.  Close your eyes so you might see.

One thing I’ve always looked for in hockey is greater lessons; a deeper meaning; something I can take from the rink and apply elsewhere in life.  Any good coach could come up with a long list of those offhand; me, I’m just one fan in the nosebleeds, so I have to figure this stuff out on my own.  Long story short, I believe that there’s a reason for the way this series has gone.  We may not know what it is right now; but someday, we will be able to look back and see “the signs in every motion,” and the meaning of why this series has gone the way it has.  As for closing our eyes so we might see:  sometimes, it takes imagination, or contemplation, to come up with a different way of looking at a situation.  I know that after seeing Game 6 slip away the way it did, the world in front of our eyes may look hopeless.  Let’s not dwell on that.  Close your eyes, so you might see a win on Wednesday night.

I will hold you still; every second of every hour, let your actions speak your will.

Now, I have to admit, the punctuation on that is conjecture.  The words are accurate, but I’m not quite sure where songwriter Ronan Harris wanted “every second of every hour” to go.  Another way to look at that might be, “I will hold you still, every second of every hour.  Let your actions speak your will.”  Trouble is, the vocal phrasing is inconclusive, there’s no clue in the liner notes, and the lyrics on VNV Nation’s official site are bereft of punctuation.  So I’m kind of on my own here, and will go with what I’ve quoted above.

“I will hold you still” seems at first glance to mean something along the lines of “I’ll keep you in place” or “I’ll comfort you.”  But that’s not how I see it applying here.  “Hold” can also mean “believe”:  think “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”  So in that sense, you could say that “I will believe in you still.”  And, Caps fans, we should.  Our men have been through more adversity than this.  Remember the Buffalo game?  The game where it was like we were in HSBC Center South, Caps fans were walking out, and the season looked about as over as Pittsburgh’s now is?  Well, it wasn’t over then, and it’s not over now.  (Yeah, yeah…insert obligatory reference to Bluto’s big speech in “Animal House” here.)  Yeah, it’s Game 7, yeah, it’s on the road, but no, that doesn’t mean the home team starts with 3 extra goals on the board.  The Caps can do this, and we have to “hold them still.”

Now, as to “Every second of every hour, let your actions speak your will.”  Here’s the reason I think those two phrases belong together for our purposes here.  Letting your actions speak your will has to be a constant process, every second of every hour.  There are no off shifts in Game 7 (at least, there’d better not be.)  The game is there to be won; go out and win it.  Command the game, and let the game obey.  And so on.  But it has to be constant, unceasing, and without any doubt.  That’s the key.

Give up your fear, these senseless longings.  Let this pain inside you die.

Should be self-explanatory, but I’ll elaborate anyway.  The Caps have been in several elimination games already this season.  There were any number of games down the stretch in the regular season where a loss might very well have put their entire season through the seven hole.  The Caps bent, but did not break; and they’ve now got the Boston Bruins–the defending Stanley Cup champions, for pity’s sake–in a Game 7, which is further than most thought this would go.  More, the games have all been one-goal affairs.  This series could have gone either way by now.  Given a different outcome here or there, this series could have been already won by either team.  That it hasn’t speaks well of just how good these Capitals are; more, it shows that they have the ability to win Game 7, on the road, if that’s what they have to do.  I would have loved to see a win on Sunday, as well, but that has to be part of “let[ting] this pain…die.”  One game.  That’s all it takes.  Let go, and let the win happen.

Raise your head up high!  Raise your head up high, so the heavens hear you cry!

No matter what gets said between now and Wednesday night, the task for all of us–players and fans alike–is to approach it with confidence; with gratitude; and with a never-say-die attitude.  The heavens don’t like quitters, at least not in any belief system I’m familiar with.  Go in with your head up high; more important, come out with your head up high, win or lose.  This has already been a season where we’ve seen a lot of special moments.  If Wednesday night is to be the end of it, then our task is to remember the good that we saw throughout the season, and not the way it ended.

If, on the other hand, our destiny is higher–which is what I believe–then we must all come into Wednesday night with the highest possible expectations.  Heads up high, everyone.  This is our moment.

Light the brightest fire from the highest mountain, so the whole world knows that your spirit can’t be broken!

And this, ultimately, has to be the final charge to all of Caps Nation.  We cannot let ourselves be broken–neither by officiating, nor by single mistakes, nor by history, nor by pressure.  We must be unbreakable, and the whole world has to know it.  For if nothing can break us, then victory is already ours.  And if, whatever the score Wednesday night, we are proud of our team once this series is over, then we will already have won something that no one on Earth can ever take away from us.

This is our moment.  This will be our night, and it will be our game, if we let it be.



A Look At the Capitals’ Playoff Math, 4/1/12 April 1, 2012

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

Okay.  As of this writing, Florida has lost to Detroit in a shootout, bringing them to 91 points.  Ottawa won, as well, taking them to 92 points and a playoff berth.

Overall, not the best day on the out of town scoreboard, but we can work with this.

The Capitals are down to 3 possible playoff positions:  7 (a long shot), 3 (more on that in a second), or 8 (likely).  And while they can be eliminated by Buffalo, that’s looking a bit less likely after Saturday night’s heads-we-won-and-tails-they-lost results.

Let me begin with the 7 spot, because I know the question is going to come up.  Ottawa needs to play .500 hockey to lock the Caps out of the 7 spot.  The Senators could theoretically lose every remaining game in overtime, and it wouldn’t matter what the Caps did.  So while the 7 spot is not impossible, it would require a very good run by the Caps, and it would also require the Senators to have a late-season swoon the likes of which only get seen these days at Justin Bieber concerts.  It is still possible, but it is unlikely.

As for the duel with Buffalo for the 8 spot…what would you all say if I said the Caps could potentially wake up Wednesday morning with playoff invites in hand?

Here’s why.  Buffalo is 2 points behind us, with 3 games to go.  However, the Capitals own the tie break (Regulation or Overtime Wins, shorthanded ROW).  So the Sabres would need to score 3 more points than the Capitals do this week to make it in.

Now, since the Sabres only have six points available, all it takes right now is for the Caps to score four points.  That’s it.  Two wins and they’re in (or, for that matter, 1-0-2 and they’re in.)  That works out EVEN IF BUFFALO WINS OUT.  4 points of their own, and the Caps clinch the 8 spot.

But what if the Caps only score 3 points?  Buffalo would still need six points:  i.e., they’d have to run the table, with games against Toronto (who just beat them Saturday night), as well as visits to Philadelphia and Boston (both playoff teams, and both teams that play tough).

But…but…but what if all the Caps can score this week is a measly two points?  Buffalo would still need five points:  Two wins and an overtime, or (again) three wins.  There’s no other way for the Sabres to get in if the Caps score “only” two points.

Now, we’re going to get into a nightmare scenario.  Suppose the Caps go 0-2-1 this week.  Even here, Buffalo still needs 4 points to get in.  They would need two wins, a 1-0-2 record, or better.  And that assumes the Caps lose every game this week, only getting to overtime once. 

Now let’s have a national panic, shall we, and assume the Caps go 0-3-0.  Highly unlikely, but I’m going to put this out here for completion’s sake.  In that highly unlikely event, Buffalo would still have to come up with 3 points.  I’m looking at road games in Boston and Philadelphia, as well as a rematch with the team that just beat them on Saturday, and I’ve got to wonder where those three points are going to come from.  And even THIS assumes the Capitals collapse like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and do not get a single point this week.

We’re going to think positive:  two wins and the Caps are in.  Boom.  Done.  Simple.

Or?  Here’s the intriguing part.  Buffalo is hosting the Maple Leafs Tuesday night, the same night the Caps head down to Tampa to take on the Lightning.  If Toronto beats Buffalo in regulation, and the Caps beat Tampa Bay, that’s it.  Game over.  Put an X by Washington in the standings and get ready to rock some playoff red.

The Capitals need 4 points–their own, or Buffalo’s losses–to punch their playoff tickets.  So if Tuesday night turns into a repeat of Saturday, that’s it.  Book ’em, Danno, playoff ducats.

Caps Nation, you’d better start Believing again.

Now, as for the Southeast Division:  The Caps trail Florida by 3 points, with 3 games remaining, one head to head.  Obviously, Thursday night’s game at Verizon Center is a must-win.  If the Caps lose that in regulation, the Panthers win the Southeast.  If they lose in OT, the Caps would have to be perfect in the other two games, and hope Florida loses its two other games in regulation.  Tuesday night, Florida hosts Winnipeg, against which Florida has a 3-1-1 record so far.  The last game, however, was a 7-0 thrashing by the Jets–get it?–and Winnipeg would, you have to think, love to play spoiler to a team that’s beaten them three times this year.

Saturday, Florida hosts Carolina, a series the Panthers lead 4-1-0.  Carolina is already out; whether they play for pride and try to play spoiler, or play for ping pong balls and roll over, is anyone’s guess.

The Capitals do own the tie break over the Panthers.  So if they win in regulation Thursday night, they would need to score 1 more point than the Panthers in the two teams’ other two games.  If they need more than sixty minutes to finish off the Panthers on Thursday night, they’ll need two more points than the Panthers get the rest of the week.

However, there’s a bit of intrigue here, too.  If both of the Sunshine State’s teams lose Tuesday night–Tampa to the Caps, Florida to the Jets–then a regulation win Thursday night could put the Capitals in position to clinch the division if they get into overtime in New York on Saturday.

The Capitals are going to need to win on Thursday, and do well in the other two games, to have a shot at the division title.  They’re going to need help from either the Jets or the Hurricanes; but as those are both division match-ups, anything is possible.

All that having been said, let’s at least focus on the 8 spot.  Two wins, and the Caps are in.  Let’s just leave it at that.

We’ll know more once the dust settles Tuesday night.  This is going to be one seriously nerve-wracking week.