Game sevens are not the Washington Capitals favourite thing. The last two seasons their season has come an end at home with a loss in game seven. In the club. The Capitals have blown two-game series leads six times over the last 25 years, losing either the last three or four straight. Tom Boswell in today’s Washington Post outlines the whole horror story.
“Ignore the Caps’ losses in Game 7 at home to end their last two seasons. Painful as they were, and fresh in mind, they barely move the capital punishment meter. Return to ’03, ’96, ’95, ’92, ’87 and ’85 if you want pain. I re-read my columns on all of them. It’s incredible: six seasons that ended with a combined 20 straight defeats (with 12 losses at home) after gaining 2-0 or 3-1 leads.
One year ended on a triple-overtime power play after a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty. Another year died after 73 saves in quadruple overtime by Kelly Hrudey. A Caps team with the second-best record in the NHL blew a 3-1 lead over the Pens. In the first period of yet another Game 7, the Caps allowed a 130-foot, unmolested, end-to-end, one-man scoring rush just 97 seconds into play (two Caps defensemen knocked each other down). Then, later in the same period, the Caps shot the puck into their own net.
Repeat as needed: “This is not the same team.”
Canadiens history is dotted with seventh game playoff successes. The most recent is the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal in 2004, the so-called “Kyle McLaren/Richard Zednik series”. McLaren was suspended for breaking up Zednik’s face with an elbow and the Canadiens came back from being down 3-1 in the series. The Canadiens with Jose Theodore in goal shutout Boston 2-0 in game seven.
Before becoming over-confident simply on history, there have been failures as well. Twice the Bruins beat the Canadiens in a seventh game (’94; ’08),, also Quebec (’85) and Hartford (’86).
And what does home ice mean in the playoffs? This year, apparently nothing. Visitors are 26-22 in the playoffs. The Nos. 2 and 3 seeds] in the Eastern Conference — New Jersey and Buffalo — have been eliminated. The visiting team has won four of the six games in the Washington-Canadiens series.
It is what it is. Series tied at three. Each team has scored 18 goals. Each team is 2-and-1 on the road. And some time after 9:30pm, one team will be going home for the summer. Simple as that.