Friday, March 6, 2015

The Final: Pre-OV #1 4OT Loss to Pittsburgh vs. OV #1 Montreal Meltdown

We have reached the final of the Worst Moment in Capitals Playoff History (WMICPH) contest! Today we pit the worst moment of the Pre-OV Caps, the 4OT loss to Pittsburgh in 1996, against the worst moment of the OV-era Caps, the 2010 first round loss to Montreal, one of the biggest upsets in Caps (and maybe even NHL) history.

So, to quote Dave Dameshek, LET IT BEGIN!!!

The 1996 Caps were, arguably, overachievers who had scraped the 7th seed in the East. However, like always, the Caps played the Penguins tough. Going into Game 4, the Caps were up 2-1 in the series after sweeping both games at the Igloo. Had the Caps won the game, they would've had 3 tries to beat the Penguins. Assuming they did, their next round opponent would be the Flyers, who the Caps probably wouldn't have beaten. Even if they did, their next round opponent is either the Panthers or Rangers, both of whom had great seasons.
The 2010 version of the Caps represented perhaps the greatest Caps team in franchise history. After one of the most dominant seasons in recent history, the Caps were favorites to win the Stanley Cup, let alone get out of the first round. Had the Caps won the series, their next round opponent would be against a Philly team the Caps had swept in the regular season, and in the conference finals they would have either played the Bruins or Penguins, both of whom the Caps dominated in the regular season. At the very least, the Caps would have made it to the Cup finals for the second time in team history.
Overall the Montreal Meltdown going the other way would've been of greater importance than the 4OT loss going the other way.
Advantage: Montreal Meltdown

The 1996 loss was just another in a multitude of disappointing losses to the Penguins in the playoffs. This particular loss didn't have much of an impact on the Caps other than in Caps lore.
However, one could attribute the Caps changing into their defensive shell to the Montreal Meltdown, as well as the system change that led to Alex Ovechkin's slight decline over the next two seasons.
Advantage: Montreal Meltdown

Shock Factor:
Both of these were stunning losses, but for different reasons. The loss to Pittsburgh was shocking because of the circumstances in the game: the game was at home, Mario Lemieux left with an injury, Joe Juneau had the first ever playoff overtime penalty shot (and failed to score), and the Caps still couldn't pull it off. Heck, the GWG was courtesy of Petr Nedved, him of less than 10 career playoff goals at that point.
The Montreal loss was stunning because, not only were the Caps at home for Game 7, they were the best team in the league and had been up 3 games to 1 in the series. Plus, the Caps completely outshot the Canadiens.
Overall, this category is too close to call.
Advantage: Push

Grudge/Hate Factor:
Yeah, no, not a contest.
Advantage: 4OT Loss to Pittsburgh

Overall, the worst moment in Caps playoff history is the Montreal Meltdown. Thank you for joining me on this sad trip down memory lane, and chime in with what you think is the worst moment in Caps playoff history and if I missed a moment that should be added. Also, be sure to be on the lookout for more fun content from Caps Circle coming up as the Caps enter the stretch run into the playoffs!

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