Good teams make the playoffs. Great teams win in the playoffs. The difference is a very fine line, a difference that was on display in the 6-4 loss in Chicago on Tuesday.
The Caps were in the game, could have won the game. They didn’t. Washington scored three goals on its power play, yet Chicago didn’t let the Caps score when they had a two-man advantage for 1:36 late in the final period in a one-goal game. Chicago was a smidge tougher, a smidge faster.
Chicago has two Stanley Cups in the past four seasons. Washington has won its division five times in the past six. It has lost in the first playoff round three times in that span, in the second three times. It hasn’t gotten out of the conference quarters since 1998, when the Caps made the Stanley Cup final series and got swept by Detroit.
In 14 seasons since, the Caps have won a total of three playoff series.
Getting there is no longer good enough. It is time to deliver. A first-round loss? Ugh. A second-round loss? Not much better. Fans around here have indeed made D.C. a hockey market and they deserve better. They deserve a Stanley Cup celebration in their own building, one they can feel live, not through their televisions.
If the thing is here, it can last 10 hours and still seem short. How cool would it be? Let’s find out.