Finally. After week after week of enduring three-point game after three-point game involving teams ahead of the Caps (usually the Bruins) and seeing them unable to truly gain meaningful ground in the playoff race as a result, we all got a break. Those overlooked (for good reason, considering their late-season disappearance into comfortably familiar irrelevance) Panthers, of all teams, delivered it. Shocked Carolina, ruined their Fan Appreciation Night, pushed the 'Canes to the brink of elimination after weeks and months of Raleigh complacency at the top of the Southeast.
Now it's the Caps' turn. As a poster on Capitals Insider brilliantly put it, there is new playoff math: win and we hang a banner. That Southeast division title, which we at DCO optimistically thought might be securely in hand by mid-February, is there for the taking with but a win. We won't even talk about OT losses. Those are for Boston to collect. But that would work too.
Members of the Optimilitia will be at the Booth tonight, lost in a sea of red up there in section 407 with 18,274 of our friends. It's the win to finally, truly talk about the playoffs as something happening NOW. It's the win to bring trophies with names like Hart and Jack Adams indisputably to Washington. It's the win to bring the Senators (at least we really really hope it's the Senators) back here for a first-round series, where the Caps can run their season record against Ottawa to 8-0. And finally, it's the win to validate those post-Jagr years of blowing up and re-building. We said back in October the rebuild was over and the team was thinking playoffs. Time for the team to make us not look stupid. They won't. Bring on the Sens.