a conscious decision that didn’t meet any resistance

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elaine95
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a conscious decision that didn’t meet any resistance

Postby elaine95 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:59 am

WASHINGTON (AP) As checkered playoff histories go Michael Ferland Jersey Womens , the Washington Capitals haven’t been around nearly as long as some NHL teams. The track record was still long and sad.There was Pat Lafontaine of the Islanders beating them in the four-overtime ”Easter Epic” back in 1987. Esa Tikkanen missing a wide-open net in the Stanley Cup Final loss to Detroit in 1998.Heck, losing nine of 11 postseason meetings against the Pittsburgh Penguins alone is filled to the brim with gut-wrenching letdowns.The puck finally bounced the right way for the Capitals, who built a 3-1 lead in the Final against Vegas after some rare postseason fortune and wrapped it up Thursday night in Game 5. Lars Eller’s double-overtime winner off his right skate kept his team out of a 3-0 hole in the first round. Then came a cathartic, six-game elimination of the Penguins behind a patchwork lineup full of rookies.Against the Golden Knights, Braden Holtby made the stick save of a lifetime to lock up a Game 2 win and opponent James Neal clanked a shot off the post in Game 4, staring at as much net as Tikkanen had 20 years ago.It’s as though all the bad breaks from the previous 42 seasons of Washington Capitals hockey are being erased – or at least somewhat forgotten – in a run that could deliver the franchise’s first title.”It’s like the franchise was star-struck,” said David Poile, who was Washington’s general manager from 1982-1995.”They’ve had all these really good teams, all of these opportunities that appeared that this could be the year that they could win playoff rounds and compete for the Cup or win the Stanley Cup. … It just feels like – as Barry Trotz would say – the hockey gods have evened things out.”Before this spring, the Capitals had made it past the second round of the playoffs just twice and reached the final once, when Tikkanen and Co. were swept by the Red Wings. Abe and Irene Pollin, the longtime owners of the Capitals and NBA’s Bullets/Wizards, had to learn how to handle losing.”My husband and I had developed a habit of when we lost, we would go to eat frozen custard to help us deal with the loss,” Irene Pollin recalled.There were a lot of chances for custard: Teams leading 3-1 in a best-of-seven series have won 91 percent of the time (276-28). Of those 28, the Capitals have blown such a lead five times – the most of any team. There was no such falloff this time.Winning just one game against the expansion Golden Knights already made this the most successful season in the history of a franchise that began in 1974-75. It was, by the way, the worst first-year team in NHL history (8-67-5) that developed into a team known for postseason failures – which only worsened in the Alex Ovechkin era.For many of the players who have been through it all, the strong showing against Vegas was long overdue.”I’m part of history. I’m part of not winning a Cup here for a long time,” said longtime scoring winger Peter Bondra, who played for the Capitals from 1990-2004.”I don’t even play, but I feel like a part of this team, believe it or not. It’s just something in it. Obviously, I play here for 14 years Derek Ryan Jersey Womens , I grew up here with the team as a player, my family grew up here.”After missing the playoffs in their first eight seasons, there was a ”Save the Caps” campaign in 1982 just to keep them around and in Washington.”We couldn’t sell tickets,” said Irene Pollin, now 93. ”We went to Montreal to fight for the franchise, So for three days and three nights we were up and I was in a nightgown typing letters to the president and everybody to have them send letters to the league because they kept saying, `Washington is a southern city, it’ll never be a hockey town.”’Abe Pollin that summer hired Poile as his general manager. When the 33-year-old executive asked for a three-year contract, Pollin agreed but only after telling Poile he’d better do well in the first season or the franchise might fold.Less than two weeks later, Poile changed the course of the franchise by acquiring eventual Hall of Fame defenseman Rod Langway. Washington made the playoffs in all 13 seasons with Poile in charge but couldn’t break through.”We had to play against some of the great teams ever in the NHL: We had to go against the Islanders who won four straight, the Rangers were always on the border, Pittsburgh when Mario (Lemieux) came in,” said Langway, who played 11 seasons for the Capitals. ”We challenged them, we competed with them, but we couldn’t get over the hump.”That became the Capitals’ unwelcome hallmark. Plenty of times an improbable play ended a promising run, whether it was the Rangers’ Pierre Larouche beating Pete Peeters from a sharp angle in 1986 or Lafontaine’s shot through traffic for the Game 7 winner a year later early on Easter morning at the Capital Centre in nearby Landover, Maryland.”To me, that is sort of what happened, the epitome of what has happened to this franchise,” said winger-turned-broadcaster Craig Laughlin, who came to Washington in the Langway trade and never left. ”We didn’t get those type of bounces. It seemed like every other team did but we didn’t.”That continued to Tikkanen in 1998 and into the ”Rock the Red” era with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. They lost in overtime of Game 7 in 2008 on a Flyers power play, in 2009 on home ice when the Penguins blew them out, in 2010 when Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak stopped 41 of 42 shots in Game 7 James Neal Jersey Womens , in 2012 when a high-sticking double-minor penalty put them down 3-2 to the Rangers, and in 2017 when they had no response in a explicable Game 7 loss to – of course – the Penguins.”That’s one of the things that you’ll look back on, that I’ll look back on, is which years I think that we had a legitimate chance and it just didn’t go our way and the years that we just didn’t deserve it,” said defenseman Karl Alzner, who was a first-round pick of the Capitals, became a core player for six first- or second-round exits and left in free agency last offseason. ”We had bad matchups and injuries at bad times.”Just like in 2010, when Washington looked unstoppable, the 2016 and 2017 teams won the Presidents’ Trophy as the best team in the regular season. But this year was supposed to be a step-back season and the third consecutive division title was a bit of a surprise. The Capitals fell behind Columbus 2-0 in the first round, but them something seemed different when the puck pinballed off a defender and Eller and in to win Game 3.”Usually that Eller goal would’ve been the opposition scoring on us and it would’ve been devastating and they’d be up 3-0 and we’d lose the series,” said Laughlin, now a TV color commentator who along with team President Dick Patrick is among the longest-lasting members of the organization. ”That started the kind of change around and turnaround, exactly that goal, because that just doesn’t happen with the Capitals in the playoffs.”Many expected the NHL’s biggest surprise this season, Vegas, to continue its amazing run in its first year. Instead, the seemingly charmed Golden Knights struggled against the rugged Capitals.Even before the Capitals won, Langway was beaming with pride and said he has felt the same from fellow alumni. Alzner is happy for friends, but there is a tinge of sadness, too.”I’ve seen how it’s all kind of gone down and tweaking with the team and trying to figure out the right mix,” Alzner said. ”You helped build the foundation a bit, but without actually getting your name on the Cup and the ring and stuff, it’s a bit empty.”Long-suffering Capitals fans have celebrated on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery and filled the rink for viewing parties of road playoff games. They did so again Thursday night and celebrated wildly after the final horn out in Las Vegas.”Finally. With us being part of the Caps for 15 years, I’m really happy for them Austin Czarnik Jersey Womens ,” Poile said.—More Stanley Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/StanleyCupFinals— ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) The NHL’s first outdoor game at a U.S. service academy probably won’t be its last.After the Washington Capitals hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Naval Academy, the league hopes to play games at Army’s West Point and the Air Force Academy over the next few years.It’s a significant foray into honoring and partnering with branches of the military that follows the lead of the NFL and Major League Baseball for a league that’s split between the United States and Canada.”It’s unique and as we continue to move forward with the outdoor games, you look for new concepts and new themes and new things that’ll interest the fans,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press on Saturday. ”Certainly the hope is, with a successful game (at Navy), we’ll continue the venture with the Army and the Air Force and we’ll see where we go from there.”Daly said he’d be surprised if the sequel to Maple Leafs-Capitals at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium comes as soon as the 2018-19 season, though 2019-20 is a possibility. The Florida Panthers faced the New Jersey Devils inside in an exhibition game at West Point’s Tate Rink in 2006, and ownership connections to the Army make the Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights strong candidates for a potential outdoor game there.American-born players taking part in the game at Navy said they were honored to get the opportunity. Told of the NHL’s future plans to attempt games at Army and Air Force, Maple Leafs defenseman Ron Hainsey called it ”a great road for us to go down.””It’s a nice recognition and a little partnership almost that we’re able to play here,” American-born Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said. ”I think means different things to different people. As a country, it means a lot, especially the Americans that play in the league and our fans.”The NHL has 24 American- and seven Canadian-based teams and is made up of about 49 percent Canadian-born players. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces took part in pregame ceremonies with the Maple Leafs, and Daly said involving a team from north of the 48th parallel was a conscious decision that didn’t meet any resistance.”I think North American forces are united,” Daly said. ”I think there’s a real appreciation for the military wherever you are, north or south of the border. While it was something we certainly thought about, it certainly hasn’t been something that’s been an obstacle at all.”When Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, native Mike Babcock moved to Spokane, Washington, he recalled the deep connections to the military from those stationed at nearby Fairchild Air Force Base or just residents who served or knew someone who was in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps. So he’s very attuned to the comparisons and contrasts for the military in the United States and Canada.”When you talk to families in the U.S., there seems to be someone in every family that’s had someone in the family Patrik Berglund Jersey Womens ,” the Maple Leafs’ coach said. ”When you do it in Canada, we don’t have as big a military, so we haven’t had that same thing. That doesn’t mean we don’t have tons of people doing a really good job and doing everything they can.”Babcock said he didn’t know how the NHL would make an outdoor game work at a place like the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, and Daly acknowledged the service academies are different in the United States. They also provide the kind of outdoor venues that fit hockey well.”It’s just a different atmosphere,” Capitals defenseman John Carlson said before playing at 34,000-seat Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. I think football stadiums and baseball stadiums, which I’ve played in, they’re amazing. But to have a kind of unique atmosphere and history to this place and from a fan’s point of view the sightlines and all that are way better at a place like this than a 60,000-seat football field.”Being part of a historic atmosphere is one thing players, American and otherwise, cited as an added value to this Stadium Series game.”As Americans, I’m sure if you’re from a different country, it probably doesn’t quite feel that way, but for us it does feel really special,” Capitals right winger T.J. Oshie said. ”It’s great for the NHL, it’s great for hockey and it’s great for the Americans that are able to play in the games.”The NFL has partnered with the military for years, and the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins played at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in 2016. The NHL is now wading into those waters with more to come.”The recognition that (servicemen and women) deserve, I guess, is probably a lot more than everyone’s doing,” Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner said. ”To play some sporting events at places like this is pretty cool.”—

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