- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 23, 2016


How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that’s so cold
Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry.

OK, maybe it wasn’t doves that the late, great Prince sang about I heard crying outside Verizon Center on Friday night. Pigeons? Or Washington Capitals fans? Or are those the same thing?

Yes, the Capitals, who had 3-0 lead in their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Philadelphia Flyers 48 hours earlier, lost Game 5 on Friday night, 2-0, giving the Flyers a commanding 3-2 deficit in the best-of-seven series, with Game 6 on Sunday in Philadelphia.

If the Capitals have to come back to play a Game 7 here, the only humane thing to do is to close the building — no one gets in. Black it out on television as well. Just announce the score when it’s over.

If they were giving away bracelets at Verizon Center on Friday like they did in Philadelphia two days earlier, Capitals fans wouldn’t have been throwing them on the ice like Flyers fans did.

SEE ALSO: After goaltender Michal Neuvirth steals victory, Flyers eager to be better

They would have been finding ways to wrap them around their necks.

The Capitals are opening the door to yet a brand new version of their traditional postseason collapse.

“Everyone talks about the past, the past, the past,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said after the game.

This one, though, this is a new one. They’ve blown 3-1 lead and 2-0 leads in 10 playoff series in their painful franchise history — but 3-0?

They are reaching into new depths of pain.

And they are doing it in dramatic Hollywood style, with Michal Neuvirth, once the goaltender in Washington’s plans to acquire multiple Stanley Cups, now shutting down his former team in the net for the Flyers after watching from the bench for the first three games of this series as Philadelphia goaltender Steve Mason let Washington have its way.

It’s Neuvirth, who appeared in just three games over two months before his start in Wednesday night’s 2-1 Flyers win in Philadelphia. It’s Neuvirth, who had not started in a playoff game since 2011 — for Washington. It’s Neuvirth, of whom former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau once declared, “He made every save that he could see and those are the qualities of a great goaltender.”

Sort of like Friday night at Verizon Center, when Neuvirth stopped all 44 of the Capitals‘ shots on goal, or like Wednesday night, when Neuvirth stopped 31 of 32 shots.

Washington goaltender Braden Holtby wasn’t as busy Friday night. He had to face 11 shots, stopping 10 of them, with the deciding goal coming in the second period on a Ryan White shot that deflected off Capitals defenseman Taylor Chorney.

If the irony of Neuvirth stopping the Capitals wasn’t enough, the entire series has resurrected the painful memory of the last Presidents’ Trophy-winning team from 2010. The top seed going into the playoffs, those Capitals led the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens, 3-1, only to run into a hot goaltender in Jaroslav Halak, who started the final three games and stopped 131 of 134 shots as the Canadiens rallied to win the seven-game series.

Oh, yes, by the way, the Capitals would trade for Halak four years later in a two-month rental. Who did they trade away to acquire him? Neuvirth.

He’ll be there again in the net on Sunday.

“We’ll stay up all night and see how we can improve,” Trotz said.

Might I suggest another Prince selection to get the coach through the night — the sad song of Capitals fans:

Why you wanna treat me so bad
Why you wanna treat me so bad
When you know I love you?
How can you do this to me
When you know I care?

Why you wanna treat me so bad
When you know I love you?

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