I don't even know where to begin with this last stretch. Suffice to say that I have been wearing out my self-protective "Pre-Season Until January" mantra since last Saturday night against Atlanta. Nothing seemed to go right for the Caps, at least in the "results" category, and the high point of the homestand was a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. That last bit pretty much sums up the level of despair generated on Verizon Center ice last week. At least nobody in the stands caught the flu from the team, as far as we know.
On The IceSaturday's frustrate-a-thon against Atlanta, followed by the historic collapse against Toronto, and then the first home shutout in ages at the hands of the Panthers seemed to find the Caps playing a game of "Can You Top This" with themselves. The faltering against Colorado wasn't exactly great, but it was at least a step up from the week that preceded it. Of course, a loss is still a loss.
(Unfortunately, that step up was followed by about 15 steps back last night in MSG, even though it's out of this blog-post's jurisdiction, so to speak. Hey, anything that causes Russian Machine Never Breaks to go dark deserves a special mention here.)
In The StandsThe technical sell-out streak continues. It also continues to be accompanied by an increasing amount of no-shows. The recent performances by the Caps have also resurrected the somewhat dormant F Street Arena tradition of multiple thousands of people doing their best to stay as eerily silent as possible during long stretches of play. Like Wimbledon silent, where you don't even hear the loud murmur of that many people conversing. I would feel weirder about it if I wasn't feeling a little "less than inspired" myself at the last couple of games.
A few more games like last week, though, and one gets the feeling that the crowd's silence will be broken, albeit not in the way anybody associated with the team would like to hear.
After Monday's anti-heroics against Toronto, there also seems to be a slight sense of hesitation behind every cheer. Speaking for myself, I found it hard to get excited about anything that happened in the first 40 minutes of the last couple of games. That is, when there was something to get excited about. With any luck, even just these couple of days away will recharge the fan batteries a bit, although I don't think people will exactly be going bonkers when the team comes out on Wednesday night. The well is not bottomless.
Making it even better, the HBO cameras were in the house looking for shots of celebrating fans against Florida. As it turns out, the most usable footage they got that evening was of the mass exodus that occurred after Florida's third goal.
I just hope this isn't all a string of bad karma for myself and a couple of others yelling "Fire Wilson" prematurely on Monday night.
Above Our Heads And BeyondThe gang in the Game Entertainment department have been doing what they can, but trying to rile up a disgruntled (and periodically bored) Caps crowd, even with tried and true tactics, is akin to trying to fire up the party at a funeral. Valiant effort, though, and the inclusion of Slayer's "Raining Blood" and Incubus' "You Will Be A Hot Dancer" were appreciated.
And So…This was a week that could be summed up as a disaster without a bit of hyperbole. With any luck, we'll all be able to look back on it later this season with a smirk as a blip on the radar. Without luck? Well, I'd prefer not to think about that right now.
Photo credit: Elenora Stilwell / Facebook