|Another year, another ring. Fear not, our time is coming.|
Enough of me rattling off stats. With only 9 weeks left until the puck drops on the 2011-2012 NHL season, the time has come to start, well, thinking about next year. Everyone knows that the Capitals and their fans are after one thing and that only one thing matters. And yet, the Capitals have followed three consecutive seasons of regular season dominance with two epic collapses and a sweep in the postseason. Sounds like another team...the Bruins.
Though Boston was not swept recently, they did underachieve in the playoffs for three consecutive years before they broke through for their Championship, including losing a 3-0 lead to the Flyers in last years' conference semifinal. The Bruins also kept the Winter Classic streak alive this season; all three winners of the Winter Classic have won a Cup in the last four years and a team from the Winter Classic has been in the Final since it's inception.
But outside of "this team did this just like the Caps so now we can expect the Caps to do the same thing" comparisons, there are actually some things that Capitals fans can take solace in when examining their chances to bring home the franchises first Stanley Cup. For one, the Bruins did it the old fashioned way: with tough, defensive hockey that wore down their opponents and allowed them to be in literally every single game they played this postseason. Boston struggled with this method at first. Washington, led by Bruce Boudreau, began to adopt this philosophy over the last six months of the season, and it began to work. The Capitals need to stick to their guns on this front. This is the way to win; it just didn't work this time around for DC. They have the right model for a team, and they cannot blow it up.
Like I said earlier, this was a team win for Boston. The Bruins didn't rely on one player to do everything, every skater contributed something big. You saw flashes of that this season and playoffs with the Caps, but it never came full circle. You think people thought Rich Peverley was a big acquisition for the Bruins? Nope. That Brad Marchand was going to be arguably their best skater? Nope. I, for one, thought they had way too many centers. Nope. You win with too many centers; they are invaluable. DC needs at least one more good, 60-pt center to win. Get on that, George.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Boston showed the Capitals and other long-suffering franchises that dreams do come true. The Bruins were thought to be down and out in two of their four series after falling behind 2-0 and lost game one in three of four. It didn't matter. There is a reason that the Stanley Cup is the most treasured and hardest trophy in sports to win, and that's because it is the single toughest test of endurance in sports. More sweat, blood and tears has gone into that trophy since it was bought for ten guineas in 1894 than any other in professional sports. That endurance lasts for games, weeks, months, seasons, and decades, and it hurts. But our Capitals are on the right track. There is hope.
Hold on tight. Because when it comes, it's the greatest feeling in the world.
Congratulations to the Bruins, my friends who are true fans of theirs, and the city of Boston. Hopefully we're next.
And by the way, you're not allowed to complain about your sports teams ever again. But really.