That got me to thinking about which loses this passed year were most painful to me, and I have create a top 5 list:
5) Redskins Lose to the Rams
This was worse than when they lost to the Lions. This was at home, in a game where no touchdowns were scored. The Redskins lost 9-6. They were booed at halftime and they were booed off the field at the end of the game. That was when everyone realized just how bad this team really was, and that was hard to take. It was more of a feeling of embarrassment than any real pain, but nonetheless it was a difficult one to swallow.
4) Maryland/Georgetown losses from March Madness
These losses were gut wrenching for different reasons. Maryland was in a close game. They battled back form being down by 12 in the final minutes of the second half. Vasquez put the team on his back and scored to take the lead with only a few seconds remaining. Only to be beaten by a buzzer beater. What an end to the Vasquez era for the Terps.
Gerogetown had high expectations. They had had an up and down season, losing to lowly opponents while beating teams like eventual champion Duke. When our pro basketball team was letting us down in more ways than one, we turned to Georgetown for solace. They decided not to show up for their first round game and were knocked out of the tournament by the 14 seed. When a team doesn't come out to play for a game that important, it hurts. A lot.
3) Tonight's Game 7 Caps Loss
This is really only on the list because of expectations. This team was so good. They dominated the entire league all season long. They seemed unbeatable. But Montreal was a bad matchup for them, as they had proven during their regular season meetings. They also ran into any team's worst playoff nightmare: a hot goalie. Jaroslav Halak won that series for the Canadiens, and there is no one who will dispute that. The Caps thoroughly out played the Habs the last 8 periods of the series, but it didn't matter. Halak was on fire. It is such a disappointment because everyone was jumping to Cup aspirations, but it hurts a little less because the Caps laid it all out there. Their PP was terrible, but they worked hard and you know they didn't hold anything back. As a team, they deserved it more, but Halak deserved in more than the entire Caps team. Knowing the team will be a contender for the next 5-10 years also helps numb the pain.
4) Gold Medal Loss to Canada
This is second by only the slimmest of margins. This underdog team represented the American Way: they were tough, they were gritty, and no one expected them to do well. They were too young, too inexperienced to make any noise in the tournament, but then they beat the All Mighty Canada 5-3. Miller was outstanding. The U.S went into the gold medal game undefeated, while Canada had a shootout win over the Swiss to blemish their record. When it all seemed to be over, Canada up 2-1 in the dying seconds of the game, Zach Parise put home a Patrick Kane rebound to tie it up and send it into overtime. Only to have Canada win it. And to have Sidney Crosby score the winning goal. Ouch. That one really stung. It just had to be him, who had actually had a mediocre at best tournament until that point. It had to be Canada. The bright spot was we got to see all of the young American talent, and with the US winning the U17, U18, and U20 World Championships, future Olympics look bright for the United States.
1) Game 7 Loss to Pittsburgh
Was there really any doubt? I was excited all day for the game. I couldn't concentrate on anything. I was so excited to see an outstanding matchup, maybe even an overtime. I, and 18,000 of my closest friends, were thoroughly disappointed. This one actually pained me. The Caps decided to take the night off. Against their biggest rival. In game 7. There was a feeling that whoever won this series could go on to win the Cup, and that eventually did happen. Getting beaten so badly in a game like that stays with you for a while. The best part of the night was with three minutes left, the crowd began to stand up and cheer. The team was losing 6-2. They were effectively eliminated. And the fans spent three minutes applauding a fantastic season. When the game was over, after the handshakes, Ovechkin and the team raised their sticks in salute to their fans. I didn't want to leave. I literally had to be dragged out of Verizon Center. I wish we had seen more of that tonight.
Anyway, these are now all behind us. And hey! The Nats are two games about .500! We might just get another playoff team this year after all.