1. Okay, Caps fans, let’s talk about Game 5 last season. You remember Game 5, don’t you? That OT winner by Mike Ribeiro?
2. The way it made you believe in true love and rainbows and all of the goodness of the universe? The way you BELIEVED?
3. And then there was the thing that came after. The thing we won’t say. The thing that reminded you: Oh yeah, I’m a Caps fan.
4. Because it’s hard being a Caps fan. You learn to fear springtime. Since the Caps went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, Washington’s had nine playoff trips — and only three series wins.
5. To be a Caps fan is to believe, and believe, and… wake up one day and watch someone else raise the Cup.
6. Nobody’s picking the Capitals to win it all this year. The experts seem to think the Caps lack toughness.
Tom Wilson, anything to say about that?
7. But here’s the thing: What if the experts are all wrong? What if this team is actually ready to take the leap?
8. Take Alex Ovechkin. He’s coming off an MVP season, and he’s still getting better at right wing. He’s a veteran now in his 9th NHL season — but he’s only 28.
9. And the cast behind him is really exciting. There’s Nicklas Backstrom, one of the league’s best passers. On the second line, there’s Mikhail Grabovski and Troy Brouwer, who’ve combined for 69 goals the past two seasons.
10. Braden Holtby’s between the pipes — and oh yes, over the past three seasons, he’s got a 93% save percentage in even-strength play, seventh best in the league.
He’s got help, too. Mike Green, Karl Alzner, and John Carlson are dominant on the blue line.