After Tampa Bay completed their four-game sweep of the Washington Capitals 5-3 and shut the door on the Caps’ season, there was nothing left for the number one seed to do but shake hands, go home, and wonder.
If nothing else, this has been a lesson for the organization and the ever-evolving fan base. Nothing is a given. Not the making the playoffs, and not winning a single game once you get there. All of the stress, frustration, jubilation and emotion that went into a roller coaster regular season was washed out the moment the puck dropped in game 1 against New York. It was a new season, the second season, and it was as feast-or-famine as the first one. Tampa Bay played a great series, which didn’t help the Capitals warring against themselves. It was over as quickly as it began.
This was a great season, by many measures. It was a maddeningly underwhelming season by many others. We saw the breakout of a group of young players who got blood on their swords for the first time. We saw a team and a coach complete a bold metamorphosis that was ultimately not enough to get over the second round hump. We also saw uneven performances from people we had come to count on. We saw the 2010-2011 Washington Capitals. There has never been a Capitals team like them, and there will never be one after. Such is the NHL. Every edition of the Caps is a little bit different.
Even if it seems to end the same way.
On a programming note, I’m taking vacation next week. I suggest you all do the same. We’ll get some distance, some perspective and if you have the stomach for it, enjoy the rest of the playoffs. I’ll be back and we’ll start sorting through the good, the bad, and the ugly of this bittersweet campaign. It’s been a blast experiencing it with all of you and hopefully turning a few more Baltimoreans on to hockey. Don’t fret, we get to do it again next year.