My sentiment in the last minute of Game 4:
"I hate loving this team."
Now that I've taken some time to grieve and let the loss really sink in, I'm still not really certain how I feel. A couple of emotions are circling in my head. Disappointment. Anger. Frustration. Disgust.
And yet, oddly, I'm hopeful.
This has been one of the most irritating, and yet successful regular seasons that I have seen from the Caps. They went through a vastly-publicized (thanks, HBO) eight-game losing streak, and still managed to pull off the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Even the best moments come in losses. Remember Alex Ovechkin up-ending PK Subban on February 1? The Capitals lost that game in a shootout. Marcus Johansson's first NHL goal against the Bruins? A 3-1 loss in October.
There will be some changes to the roster this summer - several long-time Caps will be UFAs, and the Caps cannot afford to keep all of them. The team will have a very different face. It will be difficult to say goodbye to some fan favorites, but it's obvious that changes have to be made.
Despite everything, I remain optimistic. George McPhee is one of the smartest drafters in the league, and I would expect some prospects will move into the roster. As well, McPhee will pick up more quality prospects at next month's draft.
As a fan of most Chicago sports teams (in particular the Chicago Cubs), I'm quite familiar with the phrase "There's always next year." I know many fans eschew that phrase, but Stanley Cup wins don't happen overnight. It takes time and a lot of work to achieve such a feat. The Capitals will win a Stanley Cup. It's just impossible to know when. It's frustrating to wait, yes, but it will happen.
Until then, have patience and have faith. Being a sports fan isn't always easy, but that's why we are fans. We face a lot of heartbreak, but just think: when the Caps do win the Stanley Cup, it will be that much sweeter knowing the struggles of the past.