The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!
Well, here we are, in a place we didn’t think we’d be…down 0-2 to the – ugh – Rangers. It’s a difficult situation, to be sure, but not one that hasn’t been overcome before in the annals of NHL playoff hockey. However, the Caps face an inspired enemy in the New York Rangers, and it makes one wonder what has to be done to turn the tide against such an enemy.
Well, we sat down with three legendary heroes – William Wallace, Scottish freedom fighter; Maximus Decimus Meridius, Roman General…
“…Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius.”
Yeah, yeah, we saw the movie…
“Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”
OK!...And King Leonidas of Sparta, who led a small force against an invasion of the Persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae. Gentlemen, welcome. First up, the Caps are down 0-2. It’s quite a hole to dig out of. What do you tell the boys to keep their spirits up? General Maximus?
“I’d march into the barracks…"
“Locker room… and say, ‘Three weeks from now, I will be scoring hat tricks in the conference semi finals. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, standing in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you're already playing golf!’”
Mr. Wallace…say, are you really William Wallace? William Wallace is seven feet tall.
“Yes, I've heard. Kills men by the hundreds. And if HE were here, he'd consume the Rangers with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse… I am William Wallace! And I see a whole team of Capitals, here in defiance of tyranny. They’ve come to fight as free men... and free men they are. What will they do with that freedom? Will they fight?”
Fight? Against the Rangers? No…if they’re like previous Caps teams in this predicament, they’ll go through the motions. And they will hit the links.
“Aye, fight and they may skate some more. Go through the motions, and they can hit the links – golf was invented in Scotland, you know. And dying in their beds, many years from now, would they be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell their enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR STANLEY CUP!”
It’s a powerful message…King Leonidas, what would you tell your charges?
“I would say, ‘children, gather round! No retreat, no surrender; that is Capitals lore. And by Capitals lore we will stand and fight... and die. Well, not die, this being only hockey…A new age has begun. An age of Caps playoff success, and all will know, that 20 Capitals players gave their last breath to defend it!’”
General, tonight when the Caps take the ice at Madison Square Garden, it will be a hostile crowd that the Rangers no doubt will feed off of…how do you keep your team focused against those odds?
“I’d tell them, ‘whatever comes out of these gates, we've got a better chance of survival if we work… together. Do you understand? If we stay together we survive.’”
King Leonidas, the difference in this series so far seems to be the play of Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist. He has really been on top of his game. How do you fight the idea that “The King” is inpenetrable?
“I leave them with the idea that when midnight comes, the world will know that the Capitals stood against a Vezina Trophy finalist, that few stood against many, and before this battle was over, even a goalie-king can bleed.”
It’s morning, and the Caps are getting ready to gird their loins, so to speak, to join the battle. What are they hearing from their brain trust? King?
“Capitals! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty... For tonight, we dine in hell!”
That would seem to be an apt description of Madison Square Garden. Rangers coach John Tortorella seems cautiously confident as the teams head into game three. If you’re taking the opening draw, do you whisper something to the Ranger facing off with you? William?
“Wayll… I’d lean in and whisper…”Before we let you leave, your coach must cross that ice, present himself before this team, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own arse.”
King Leonidas, what do you tell them as they’re walking out that tunnel to take the ice?
“Give them nothing! But take from them everything!”
William, when all is said and done, and this series is finally over, what will be said of the Caps?
“In the Year of our Lord 2009, patriots of Washington – down two games and outnumbered - charged the ice of Manhattan. They fought like warrior poets; they fought like Capitals, and won their playoff series.”
Maybe the results so far have creeped into the state of mind of the Rangers and given them a confidence to end this thing by Wednesday night. A couple of quotes from Rangers suggest as much…
"We're going to enjoy this for a little bit and then get ready to go, but I'm really looking forward to playing at home.”
-- Henrik Lundqvist
"I'm sure the Garden's gonna be rockin'. It's gonna be fun."
-- Chris Drury
Fun? At the Capitals’ expense? Not tonight. King Leonidas, you have any last thoughts?
“Unless I miss my guess, we're in for one wild night.”
Caps 4 – Rangers 3