Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cinderella Makes the Ball

The Washington Capitals completed their seemingly impossible venture from the basement of the Eastern Conference to the third playoff seed on Saturday night with a passionate, and somewhat dominant, win over the Florida Panthers. It topped off what has been one of the most remarkable stories of the year and puts the team in the playoffs for the first time in five years. It is, in many ways, the classic Cinderella story.

The team spent 50 days with the worst record in the conference prompting their coach to be replaced by his minor league counterpart only a few months into the season. Their group of young future stars and role players came together and exceeded all expectations under new leadership. They acquired a true veteran at the deadline that many, including myself, believed to have nothing left in the tank, or the chest, only to see him find his passion again. They traded for a goalie that was left behind by his former team, a goalie that would then lead the Caps to the playoffs by setting a franchise record for wins in a row. Their young superstar proved that he's the best player in the world and stands to be the first to win four NHL awards in single season. All of this resulted in the Capitals becoming only the second team in NHL history to go from finishing last in a division three years in a row to winning the division and the first since the NHL had more than 6 teams in the league. It is easily the greatest single and multi-season comeback in recent memory and the story shows no signs of ending anytime soon.

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