“All we needed was one, to be honest,” said Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green after the Capitals’ season-ending loss to the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
“Last night, just needed one to get us going. Tonight, we just needed one.”
Sometimes all it takes is the one lucky bounce, one lucky break, one goal, to get a team going. But the Capitals weren’t the beneficiaries of any such thing Monday night. Following a loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in Game 6 on Sunday, which tied the series 3-3, the Capitals hoped their win streak on home ice would keep going. But it was not meant to be. When it was said and done, the Capitals fell 5-0 to the Rangers, which ended their 2013 season.
The mood in the locker room was somber. A season-ending loss in the playoffs is harder to swallow than a regular season loss. Hockey players know that. The Capitals know that. Many of them have experienced only playoff failure during their careers. Nicklas Backstrom is one of them.
“It feels like deja vu. It happened before,” he said.
Backstrom was asked what lessons the team could take from this season.“Maybe learn how to play in the playoffs, I would say. It’s the same thing as previous years.”
Sentiments were much the same around the room. Things like these take time to process – coach Adam Oates responded to many questions by saying “ask me in a couple days.”
“It’s as tough as it gets right there,” said Eric Fehr. “It’s really disappointing. We played a hard series and we’re not even sure what happened tonight. It wasn’t good.”
He’s right – it wasn’t good. The Capitals weren’t good, and Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers were better.
Oates summed it up the best he could for the moment, but seemed at a loss, like many of the players. “Quite honestly, it’s tough to explain. It’s funny how over the years the seventh game turns into some form of blowout. I wish I had an answer for that. Obviously, we pushed very hard in the first period, even made a lot of great saves. They got a lucky one and every bounce seemed to go their way after that.”
This is playoff hockey, and the nature of the beast. Things could just as easily had gone the Capitals way. Things will surely become clearer for the players and coaches over the next few days, the wound will begin to heal, and they will take these lessons and move on to next season.