Here we are on the eve of game 5. The Caps are in a familiar spot to all fans, and a very familiar spot to those of us who might be described as the "long-suffering" variety. The Caps are up three games to one in this first round series of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers.
However, their stirring comeback and thrilling double-OT win on Wednesday night was a very unfamiliar way to have gotten here. The Caps aren't exactly known for putting a W up when playoff games get lengthy, and there are a couple of marathons that have become the stuff of legend, especially for those who were there (and bear the mental scars to prove it).
Could it be that we've finally seen the watershed playoff moment that we've been hoping for over the last few years? We'll get at least part of the answer tomorrow night. While the ultimate outcome is based on what the gentlemen on the ice do, there's always the matter of game-time atmosphere.
That's where we, the denizens of the F Street Arena enter the equation.
A lot was made about comments made by Coach Boudreau on the Kirk & Mike Morning Show earlier this week about how Madison Square Garden wasn't exactly, let's say, up to par in a facilities sense, and how the building wasn't as loud as we'd been in DC. The fans at the Garden responded pretty well, and were full-bore as the Rangers built a 3-0 lead in the second. In unison they asked the chanting question of "Can You Hear Us?" We could, everyone could. But when that lead evaporated in the third, the answer switched from a resounding yes to a, well, "well, kinda." As is to be expected, the crowd couldn't quite find the same voice that they had just a few hockey minutes earlier. Although the game was still tied, it sounded (at least via the television) like the home team had already lost.
I'm not saying that's why the Rangers never got any jump back from that point on in the game (the Caps play had something to do with it, I'm sure), but I get the feeling that a little something to feed off of from the stands might have been welcome by the boys in blue on the bench at that point.
I'll admit it, there have been plenty of times that I've been as blase as anyone else this regular season. Even some of my tweets as recently as Wednesday night were nothing short of "Stereotypical Bi-Polar Long Time Caps Fan." Honestly, there were a lot of reasons (or excuses, depending on one's point of view) that contributed to my malaise and periodic frustration. When the Caps gave up leads this season, I got cranky. When they looked like they didn't care, it was hard for me to. However, all of the trials and tribulations that the team and the faithful have gone through since October, hell, since last April, could all start to fade into the rear-view mirror, starting tomorrow. If there's any part, no matter how infinitesimal it may be, that we might have in making that happen, we need to make damn sure we do it… all afternoon long.
This one's going out on nationwide network television. It's time to bring it.
I'm ready to squash some bad memories tomorrow. I hope everybody's with me.