*IMPORTANT REMINDER*: The Washington Capitals are Stanley Cup Champions
Raise your hand if you never thought you’d see this in your lifetime.
Now take that hand and punch yourself in the face.
BUT if you did think (erroneously) that this would never happen you have a lot of historical data to back that up:
The Washington Capitals have been to the Eastern Conference Finals twice. They were swept by the Bruins in 1990 and the only other time they have made a Stanley Cup Final appearance, making it past Buffalo in 6 in the Eastern Conference Final, they were swept by Detroit in 1998. On top of that, the Capitals have a comical history of blowing series leads and shitting the bed in game 7’s. Teams in the NHL have dropped a 3-1 playoff series lead 28 times. Caps own 5 of those, they lead this category.
I’m not going to bore you with detailing all of the bed shitting the Capitals have done in the past (it would make this article way too long and I already intend on breaking my arm jerking myself off), but as is my journalistic responsibility, here’s an article by Brandon Schlager that outlines them pretty well: All capsized: A not-so-brief history of Capitals playoff collapses. Spoiler alert:
ANYWAY. This win by the Caps has many fans overjoyed and also scratching their head saying: “This is the fucking team that did it?”
Looking back the 2010, 2016, and 2017 iterations of the Washington Capitals were of the best teams in NHL history to not win a cup. Each of these teams won a Presidents Trophy. 2010 was highlighted by young studs Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, and Green supported by Laich, Knuble, Fleischmann, Morrison and Fehr – the true Young Guns peak. They also had a backstop of Varlmov and Theodore. 2016 was the start of a “2 year window to win” (thanks for the jinx GMBM). This team had incredible depth by finally getting Kuznetsov to defect to the NHL from the KHL and they added Justin Williams “Mr. Game 7”. Not to mention they basically already had everyone they have today. Finally, in 2017 the Washington Capitals went Super Saiyan God, dropping Latta and Chimera and adding Kevin fucking Shattenkirk. Caps fans knew it was their year…till it wasn’t. Again for posterity:
In 2017-2018 the Caps had to trade Johansson for a half eaten ham sammie (no mayo), lost Nate Schmidt to the expansion draft, and let Shattenkirk and Williams walk. They were objectively a worse team…on paper. In fact, they were so much worse some thought they may not even make the fucking playoffs. Fortunately, the Washington Capitals ended up winning the Metropolitan Division with consistent play managed through bench boss Barry Trotz who was coaching without a job next year.
The Capitals started the playoffs like poo poo, causing much alarm. After dropping the first 2 games AT HOME to Columbus, they immediately broke dick off in the Blue Jackets ringing off 4 straight wins and taking the series in 6. In the second round the Caps went up against their arch nemesis, the Pittsburgh Penguins. After some back and forth play and trading some games, the Caps won convincingly in game 5 with a score of 6-3. They then went on to finish the series in Pittsburgh with a barn burner OT win via a Kuznetsov breakaway. After the second round victory against the Penguins and the gorilla off their back, the Washington Capitals really hit their stride. In the Eastern Conference Finals, for the first time in recent history, the Caps did not have home ice advantage to start a series, but in true Caps fashion they blew a 2 game lead dropping 2 at home and an additional 1 back in Tampa. Down 3-2 in the series the Caps morphed into their final form and stomped the Lightning in the next 2 games as Holtby pitched back to back shutouts. In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals only lost 1 game, the first in Vegas. Then went off for 4 straight wins to win the Cup. What a run.
Heroes like Devante Smith-Pelley, Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, and Lars Eller came up big in the playoffs. The incredible, and unforeseen, depth mixed with super star consistency found in Carlson, Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Kuznetsov drove this team over the edge and into a Stanley Cup, making Ovechkin’s promise of “we’re not going to be suck this year” absolutely true. The Caps closed all 4 series on the road and, I think, played the toughest opponents during their playoff run dethroning the reigning cup champs and the top team in the Eastern Conference. Through it all, they never played like they deserved to be there (looking at you Tampa) which was a welcome departure from previous years. It was the first time in their 42 year history that they have won the Stanley Cup.
As a long suffering Caps fan, this was a vindicating win not only for the franchise but for the individuals on this team. Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Beagle were there through all the playoff loses and multiple identity, coaching, and management changes. Not to mention the only repeat cup winner was Buyout Brooks Orpik. Oshie, Eller (who I think was the lynch pin to it all), and Niskanen all had enjoyed some success on previous teams but were brought in to win a Cup. Also, Carlson who had a career year and has always been a stud for the team. There’s too many story lines to cover in 1 article. So many memes have been rendered obsolete. It sucks that Trotz and some other players are leaving next year but the core is still intact and the club will remain competitive, but as of right now from a fans perspective, this is definitely a peak moment.
Thanks for the ship, boys! LET’S GO CAPS!!!
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