The year is 2001. A young 6-year old Arik Krause is just like any curious kid and grabs a VHS tape and puts it into the VCR. The tape is titled “1990 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs”. Now if you don’t know, the Edmonton Oilers are in the midst of their dynasty and in these playoffs would face the Boston Bruins. A series which they would win for their fifth and final Stanley Cup this far. That series was famous for the Petr Klima goal in Game 1. Klima didn’t play at all during the third period or first two overtime periods, but he would slide the puck past Andy Moog in the third overtime and give the Oilers a win in Game 1.
Now this story has nothing to do with the Oilers or the Bruins; we are just setting a backdrop. What caught my young mind and stuck with me was Dino Ciccarelli scoring eight goals in eight games for the Washington Capitals and that annoying goal horn. The goal horn is what made me become a Washington Capitals fan back then and still today, who doesn’t love sirens! I’m glad we still have an iteration of it today.
Throughout my young Capitals life, I’ve had to deal with a lot of heartaches; thankfully it’s been a bit easier due to the fact we have in my opinion the best goal scorer in NHL history on our team in Alexander Ovechkin.
It began in 2007-2008. Washington wins its first Division championship in 7 years; this would be the beginning of them rattling off 4 Southeast Division championships in a row.
The first year, we lose to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in the first round. My first taste of playoff action outside of the 2006 Edmonton Oilers run and my first heartbreak as we fail to make it out of the first round.
2008-2009 we win the division again with 50 wins. We play the New York Rangers in the first round and get our first playoff win in my young life! That would be followed with the first of many departures at the hands of the Penguins. The 2009-2010 season was easily forgettable. Washington enters the playoffs with 54 wins and one of the favourites to win the Stanley Cup only to be bounced by single-handedly the best goaltending performance I’ve ever seen in my life from Jaroslav Halak.
2010-2011 we win yet another Southeast Division Championship, this time with only 48 wins, however. We get to the second round again after waltzing through the New York Rangers in five games, only to get dismantled by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 4 games, which became the first sweep I’ve had to endure in my hockey fandom.
Year after year, season after season we would make the playoffs being one of the favourites to win the Stanley Cup only to be bounced by New York or Pittsburgh. I really started to hate Pittsburgh by this point. Especially after the 2015-2016, 2016-2017 seasons, both years the Capitals would win the Metropolitan Division, both years the Capitals would be bounced by the Penguins in the second round. Both years the Penguins would go on to win the Stanley Cup.
It Finally Happens
It’s May 7th, 2018 and I’m sitting on the couch watching Game 6 of the second round. First off, I don’t know how we got there, to begin with. The Columbus Blue Jackets came into our barn in the first round and rattled off two wins, pushed Game 3 to overtime in which if we don’t win that game, we go down 3-0 in the series and our playoff run is likely over. Anyways. A hard-fought Game 6 goes to overtime, and as a Washington fan that’s endured a lot, the only thing going on in my mind is if we lose this game, we’re going to lose Game 7 in our barn, and it’s just going to be like the past two years.
Kuznetsov would be backchecking Crosby in the neutral zone; he would poke-check the puck off Crosby’s stick to Orlov who would slide it over to Ovechkin in transition. Kuznetsov sees the turnover right away as he causes it, so he’s already going the other way. Ovechkin gets the puck to him as Kuznetsov walks in all alone. Kuznetsov would slide it from his backhand to his forehand and slide it under Murray, and I would literally jump off my couch in joy. The demons were finally exorcized, the Washington Capitals would beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and move onto the Eastern Conference Final for the first time in over TWENTY YEARS.
Just like that, it’s like a one-tonne truck had been lifted off the shoulders of the entire city. They would walk into Tampa Bay and dispatch the Lightning in 7 games off an insane performance from Andre Burakovsky.
The Capitals would move onto the Stanley Cup Final against the expansion team Las Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights would take a 1-0 series lead after Game 1 and come oh so close to tying Game 2 and potentially taking a commanding 2-0 series lead if it wasn’t for Braden Holtby and what has been determined as “The Save” in DC.
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) May 31, 2018
All of that leading to the culmination of years of hard work from the core of Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Bäckström as the Washington Capitals would become the 2018-2019 Stanley Cup Champions.
Alexander Ovechkin touches the Stanley Cup for the first time pic.twitter.com/MIsW5xP195
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) June 8, 2018
We didn’t win it back to back as we got knocked out by the Hurricanes in the first round this year, but I will never forget the 2018-2019 season, and I’m sure most of DC won’t either.