Capitals—Penguins: Do or Die, Again

Wayne VienerContributor IMay 11, 2009

WASHINGTON - MAY 09:  Alex Ovechkin #8 and Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals celebrate Backstrom's go ahead goal in the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 9, 2009 at the Verizon Center in Washington,  DC.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Once again it is a "win it to be in it" night for the Capitals

This is the third such scenario in three playoff series over the past two years. 

If you include the must-win game to get into the playoffs last season, that makes four elimination situations in two seasons. 

Historically, the Capitals do not fair well in similar circumstances.  But in very recent history, the Caps are on the upside with a 2-1 record.  They got into the playoffs (W), lost to the Flyers in the first round (L) last year, and beat the Rangers in this year's playoffs (W).

Do you judge a franchise on long-term or short-term history?  Although the Capitals seem deflated by the Penguins, they could come back and win the series.  Just because the Caps "always lose" in these situations does not mean that the team will fold this year.

It is not reassuring to watch the manner in which the Caps have lost the two overtime games.  On Saturday night, Dave Steckle missed a wide-open shot and the Pens scored on the ensuing possession.  The Pens scored by having Tom Poti score an "own goal," as the Capitals defensemen knocked the puck past a startled Semyon Varlamov.

I think the Capitals will win in the Igloo tonight and then lose on home ice on Wednesday. 

The Caps will lose in a heart-wrenching, dry-mouthed, impossible manner. They may not win Lord Stanley's Cup, but they might win an Emmy for best drama on ice.