(Ed. Note: From time to time, Puck Daddy welcomes guest columnists to opine on all things hockey. Here is Washington Capitals blogger Jason Rogers of Japers’ Rink, and the author of our Toronto Maple Leafs Eulogy, preparing Caps fans for the event of an emergency.)
By Jason Rogers
The Washington Capitals are set to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday night, staring down the steely barrel of another early playoff exit as they try to overcome a 3-1 series deficit to their hated rivals.
History is not on the Capitals’ side, and as a franchise and a fanbase known for teeth-gnashing misery brace for the possibility of another catastrophic implosion, a veritable D.C. disaster, it is more important now than ever to understand exactly what Washington should expect in the event of an emergency.
Please direct your attention to the front of the craft. Let’s get started.
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In the event of an emergency, a shot differential of 142-93 and a Corsi For % more deceptively positive than Mom’s new boyfriend cannot be used as a floatation device.
The Capitals had a 36-24 shot advantage in a game they lost 6-2.
I just………..that doesn't make any sense.
— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) May 4, 2017
In the event of an emergency, the actual corpses of your injured foes, piled serendipitously before you like a grim cornucopia of “well you hate to see it happen, but…” will not cushion you from the impact of a beautiful Boeing’s worth of expectations going up in flames.
In the event of an emergency, you will be instructed to direct your attention to the lights on the floor, twenty-thousand promotional light-up Budweiser cups shining with red not rocked, and to fasten your own oxygen mask securely before shrieking that a dive from Nick Bonino was what lost this series.
In the event of an emergency, you may be asked to perform certain critical life-saving tasks, like explain how Pittsburgh managed to accrue a 21-minute PIM advantage while benefiting from some questionable non-calls – like coach Barry Trotz not calling Brooks Orpik back to the bench like a tired old golden retriever when he saw him paired with Karl Alzner, or Braden Holtby not calling Washington goalie coach Mitch Korn and asking him why his enchanted catching glove turned back into a pumpkin at the stroke of a second-round midnight.
In the event of an emergency, hot air will flow from the NBC television studios, even though Pittsburgh’s ego may not inflate. Golden slides of flattery will deploy from your television speakers down which will stream adoring takes about the transcendence of Evgeni Malkin, the moxie of Chris Kunitz and the unassailable genius of Mike Sullivan. The apparatus known as Pierre McGuire will only activate if the game-winning goal scorer played juniors in Kelowna.
In the event of an emergency, Marc-Andre Fleury may move about the trapezoid erratically like a panicked geometry student, but the contents of his net will not shift. Even though the captain may turn off the “Don’t Play the Puck Behind the Net When the Opponent Is Forechecking” sign, you are asked to not count on Fleury coughing up one of his characteristic open net goals, poorly coordinated misunderstandings more slapstick than an Abbott and Costello routine. In fact, Fleury will not be offering any refunds for false advertisement, but will be honoring vouchers for a .937 save percentage in the series, higher than the one posted by Jaroslav Halak against the Capitals in 2010 (.925). For purposes of full disclosure, I’m required by federal law to remind you that uttering the word “Halak” will still get you thrown off an airplane in Washington.
In the event of an emergency, you may even have to abandon your emotional baggage, and reconsider your opinion of Alex Ovechkin’s legacy. In 10 playoff games this postseason, Ovechkin has just 7 points, good for a three-way tie for fourth on the Capitals. His patented highlight-reel curl-and-drag move has been curled-and-drug to death, and can be seen coming from miles away like an exhibitionist with a webcam. As Ovechkin stares down his 32nd birthday before the opening of the 2017-2018 season, he faces the harsh prospect of the inevitability of time, and the very real truth that this Russian machine may soon begin to more closely resemble a mallet than a MiG.
As I’ve said before, the old riddle about the dog running halfway into the forest is true: Ovechkin may not be running out of time yet, but he is certainly running out of the woods.
Of course, if the Washington Capitals manage to win Game 5 in Washington, and Game 6 in Pittsburgh, and Game 7 back in Washington, all of this will have been but a training exercise. After all, the Capitals have won three games in a row 14 different times this season.
But it bares mentioning that if Washington does fall to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs, doing so for the 9th time in 10 impotent meetings, it will be this franchise’s greatest failure since the 2009-2010 Presidents’ Trophy winners crapped out in the first round against eighth-seeded Montreal. With T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Daniel Winnik, Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly, Karl Alzner, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt and Philipp Grubauer all free agent this offseason, you can safely assume that the fabled “playoff window,” a veritable Schrodinger’s Pane of open-til-it-ain’t, will be closed on this version of the Washington Capitals as we know them. The Caps will be a wreck, the pieces and causes only discernible after careful inspection of the black box and the video records. Chaos will reign, and madness will win the day in Washington, a firestorm of unrealized potential and glory left out to burn.
But of course, that’s only in the event of an emergency.
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