Caps Fans Brace for More NHL Hockey Heartbreak

Washington hockey fans should prepare for their annual dose of disappointment.

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By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

All you Cubs and Bills fans out there will understand if I don't blog today about Sarah Palin or the Tea Party or Glenn Beck. They're getting kind of boring and predictable, anyway, eh?

Arriving tonight, here in Washington, D.C., is our annual spring ritual: living and dying with the Washington Capitals. The Stanley Cup playoffs have arrived, and--despite that lovely score in the Pittsburgh-Ottawa game last night--it is time for long-suffering Washington hockey fans to prepare for their annual dose of tension and torture and, so far, cruel disappointment.

Oh, I know. This year it is going to be different, you say. Nobody won more games in the regular season. We've got stud hosses in Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, and guys with muscle and heart like Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble. Besides, not every Washington team can suck.

I won't hear it. You're talking to a guy who watched Guy Charron and Dennis Maruk, and remembers Bugsy Watson's seamed kisser; the pizza at the Cap Centre; Gord Smith's hip checks; and Hartland Monahan and Bob Sirois.

Ever since that heart-rending night in 1987, when the Caps lost to the Islanders in four overtimes, thereby blowing (and not for the last time, my children) a 3-to-1 lead in the series, this is an organization that, when it comes to breaking its fans' hearts, can match such storied hard-luck clubs as the Cubbies or the Bills or the pre-2004 Red Sox. (An old joke from Tony Kornheiser: What's red, white and blue and plays golf in April?)

The Caps are the Lucy of the NHL, and Caps fans are their Charlie Brown. We sit quaking at the thought that defense and goal-tending win playoff games, terrified that the evil twins of Varley and Theodore will replace them in the net, and that Semin will start taking stupid penalties in the offensive zone, leaving the leaky PK unit on the ice. And if any Caps player or official--right up to jolly Ted himself--gives me the "Well, we always knew it was going to be a seven-game series" crap this year, like they did as the team failed to put away the Rangers and Penguins early in 2009, I'm throwing something through the big screen.

Caps in 4. Mike Green: this is your hour, your time, your opportunity for greatness. Hey, I was right about Tiger, wasn't I?

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