Thursday, February 26, 2015

OV Semifinal #2: #2 Loss to Pittsburgh vs. #3 Sweep by Tampa Bay

We've reached the last first-round match in the WMICPH contest. Today, the 2009 7-game loss to Pittsburgh takes on the stunning sweep by the 5th-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011.

Without further ado, let's get started.

The Caps-Pens series was a classic from the start. This classic battle between two classic rivals with a classic Game 7 and (unfortunately) the classic finish of the Caps losing. After winning the series, the Pens went on to win the Stanley Cup. The upsetting thing is, the Caps could have taken the Pens. They were up 2-0. The ECF against Carolina would have been pretty easy, and then it would have come down to Detroit. There is no guarantee that the Caps would have won the SCF, but at least the Pens wouldn't have.
The 2011 Caps was one of the most balanced in recent memory. It was a good team (the Eastern Conference 1st-seed) and they had steamrolled the Rangers in 5 games in the first round. If this team had won, they would be playing the not-as-tough team in Boston, and would have gone on to a good matchup against Vancouver. Again, there is no guarantee the Caps would be Cup champs, but they almost certainly would have been finalists.
Advantage: Push

Impact is pretty tough to measure, given that these are pretty recent, but the TBL loss has had a greater impact. The franchise facelift continued, as the Caps completed a change to an ultra-defensive style when Dale Hunter took over as head coach. The Pens series just gave more incentive to win, but obviously that hasn't happened.
Advantage: Sweep

Shock Factor:
The Caps could have been out in Game 6 against the Pens, and the two teams were considered evenly matched, so there was not a lot of shock when the Pens won.
The TBL loss was shocking because minus Stamkos, the Bolts were an aging team which was not supposed to challenge the Eastern Conference favorites. Instead, the Bolts destroyed the Caps.
Advantage: Sweep

Grudge/Hate Factor:
This is sort of hard, but not really.
Advantage: Loss to Pittsburgh

In the end, I'll choose the first upset of this draw, and I'm gonna go with the Sweep by Tampa Bay. The impact and shock factor caused by this loss will send it to the second round, where it will take on the loss to Montreal. See you then!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

OV Semifinal #1: #1 Loss to Montreal vs. #4 Game 5 Loss to NYR (2012)

The contest return with the first OV-Era match; the incredibly stunning (and deeply upsetting) 7-game loss to Montreal against the shocking Game 5 loss to the Rangers last year.

As always, I'll compare them under different criteria, and come up with a winner which will advance to the semis. So let's start!

The Caps were President's Trophy winners, so beating the 8th-seed Canadiens was supposed to be a give-in. If the Caps win, they continue on in the playoffs with a lot of momentum. Plus, they had three shots at winning the series, and winning any of them would have been great.
Still, I think the Game 5 loss was more important. The Caps won Game 6, so had they won Game 5, they would have upset the Rangers and advanced to a ECF against the Devils which they could have won.
Advantage: Game 5 Loss

The impact is a completely different matter. Because of the loss to Montreal, the Caps realized all it took to beat their team was a red-hot goalie. So they changed their style of play to an extremely defensive game (which did not suit their strengths) and this continued when Dale Hunter was the coach. Alex Ovechkin's struggles could be traced to that series loss.
The Game 5 loss would have had a bigger impact had the Caps lost Game 6. But they won, and had a chance in Game 7, so the impact is not as big.
Advantage: Loss to Montreal

Shock Factor:
It's hard to decide which was more shocking. The Montreal loss is obvious, because the Caps were favorites to win the Stanley Cup and lost to a team with 33 points less than them.
However, the Caps were beating the Rangers with 6 seconds left in the game when Brad Richards scored on the PP to tie it, and Marc Staal scored early in OT to stun the Caps.
Still, because the Caps were favorites against Montreal, that gets the nod.
Advantage: Loss to Montreal

Grudge/Hate Factor:
Canadiens vs. Rangers? Easy.
Advantage: Game 5 Loss

In the end, this is a close call, but because of the sheer shock it caused, the Loss to Montreal wins here. The Game 5 Loss was stunning as well, but in the grand scheme of things, the loss to Montreal was more shocking and had a much bigger impact than the loss to New York.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pre-OV Semifinal #2: #2 Easter Epic vs. #3 Blowing a 3-1 lead to Pittsburgh (in '92)

The second matchup in this epic contest commences, as the Easter Epic takes on the Caps blowing their 3-1 series lead to Pittsburgh in 1992.

The Caps blew a 3-1 lead twice, but the one most longtime fans remember is the '92 version, because it was the second playoff installment between these two new rivals, and it quickly began their hatred between each other. It will be tough to decide between this and the Easter Epic, but that's what I'm here for!

So... let's begin.

The Easter Epic was a Game 7, which automatically makes it uber-important. Plus, it was an OT game, where the next goal equals next round.
The 3-1 lead was important, not in a very tangible aspect, but in a mental aspect. Without that, chances are we may never have been able to have this beautiful rivalry with Pittsburgh. Still, the Epic was more important physically, and that should give it an edge.
Advantage: Easter Epic

This is a lot closer than importance. For the Epic, the biggest impact was that the Caps were first known as playoff chokers, which is not really the impact you go for.
The Blown Lead's impact is a lot easier to recognize, as that lead truly began this amazing rivalry with the Penguins. That is more than enough of an impact for me.
Advantage: Blown 3-1

Shock Factor:
This is also really close. For the Epic, this was stunning because the Caps had thoroughly dominated the game, outshooting the Islanders 75-57. Isles goalie Kelly Hrudley had been sensational throughout, and considering the SOG, the Caps should have won easy.
Blowing a 3-1 lead is always stunning, and doing so when you have home ice against the defending champs (a team you would love to beat) makes it even more shocking. This is very, very close.
Advantage: Push

Grudge/Hate Factor:
This would have been an easy call if the Easter Epic was not against the Islanders. The Caps have played the Isles six times in the playoffs, and lost 5. They've played the Pens eight times and lost 7. Plus, the Pens series was before the animosity really started. I feel there is too much history on both sides to give this one decisively.
Advantage: Push

I didn't think one up. I didn't know it would be necessary.

But in the end, I guess I'm going to go with the Easter Epic. The main reason for this? They had beaten the Isles the year before. They had dominated the game. They were supposed to win. And, they now had a reputation as chokers. This was an extremely tough call, but because of all these reasons listed, as well as the awesome name it has in hockey lore, the Easter Epic will take on the 4OT loss to Pittsburgh in the semifinals.

Coming up next, the first round matches in the OV era. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Pre-OV Semifinal 1: #1 4OT loss vs. #4 Esa Tikkanen's miss

Starting the matches in the Pre-OV era, first is the 1 vs. 4; the grueling 4OT loss to Pittsburgh in Game 4 in 1996 and the missed empty net shot by Esa Tikkanen. I'll be comparing them on different aspects, and declare a winner (loser?) at the end.

So let's begin!

The 4OT was in Game 4, a win in which would have given the Caps a 3-1 lead in the series, which the much improved Caps team may not have blown this time.
Tikkanen missed the shot in Game 2, a win in which would have tied up the series at 1 game each going back to Capital Centre. However, it's hard to know that the Caps would have won that series anyways. Still, it was the Stanley Cup.
Advantage: Push

This sort of goes along with importance, but is a little bit different. Like I said earlier, a 4OT win would have given the Caps a 3-1 series lead which they probably wouldn't have given up.
Tikkanen's shot may not have changed the impact of the series, considering that the Caps were not even supposed to have made it there, let alone give the Red Wings a run for their money.
Advantage: 4OT

Shock Factor:
The Caps had a 2-1 lead after the second period. Mario Lemieux had been ejected. Joe Juneau had a penalty shot. In OT. This loss was an absolute stunner.
With Tikkanen's shot, eh. A Caps win would have been a huge shock, but the loss was not really. The ending was surprising, but the tying goal was scored with almost 5 minutes left.
Advantage: 4OT

Grudge/Hate Factor:
I don't even need to analyze this.
Advantage: 4OT

For me, the winner is the 4OT loss to Pittsburgh. Tikkanen missing was stunning and deeply upsetting, but considering the impact, improbability, and hate between the teams involved, the 4OT loss was worse to Caps fans than Tikkanen missing the shot. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Re-Introducing the Worst Moments in Caps Playoff History Contest

When I just started this blog, I began this contest, but never finished it. Now, however, I'm bringing it back, and it will be done, I tell you! In case you've forgotten, here are the brackets.

Pre-OV Era:
1. Caps lose to Pens in 4OT
4. Esa Tikkanen misses the empty net

2. Easter Epic
3. Blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Penguins

OV Era:
1. Upset by Montreal
4. Game 5 loss to NYR (2012)

2. 7 game loss to Pittsburgh
3. Swept by Tampa Bay

So stay tuned to get round by round analysis to decide which moment was the worst.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Caps Circle is Back!!!

Hello guys! It's been a long four months since I've posted anything, but now Caps Circle is back and here to stay! Starting in the next few days, we'll have new content on the blog and will be updating regularly. Stay tuned for material including:

  • Trade Deadline Preview
  • Re-Introducing the Worst Moment in Caps Playoff History contest
  • Seinfeld-ology (you'll see what that is)
  • and more...
Stay tuned!