I haven’t attended a game in person this season, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time before the Caps making the Stanley Cup Finals, whenever that happens. I’m happy to talk hockey with my friends, and I keep an eye on the on-line community and sources of information, and I DVR every game for later viewing. I simply came to expect the least at every new sub-par effort by the club, and that, in turn, cooled any passion I had for the game and the organization.
To be clear, this apathy has no malicious component to it — I don’t feel I’m owed anything by the team, I don’t feel like they’ve let me down personally, and I don’t feel like they have to prove anything to me. They can go about their business, and I’ll go about mine, watching the games with a mild interest and no fervor or passion.
The Caps made the playoffs to my mild surprise, and I wondered idly if that would change my attitude towards the team at all. The answer, not that anyone’s asking, is that it has and it hasn’t.
As I’ve done for the past 25 or so years, I’ll watch every post-season contest game the Caps play, but it will be with a certain detachment and certainly no expectations. I’m not going to live or die with each shot. I’m not going to fume when the Caps lose, and I won’t be on Cloud 9 when they win. This season just hasn’t been worth caring about enough. Of course I want them to win, and of course I’ll follow the injury reports and TOI stats closely. And of course I’ll be pleased if they somehow manage to go deep into the post-season. I just won’t be ecstatic as I once was.
In the time leading up to Thursday’s puck-drop it will be easy for me to dispassionately review the news and notes leading up to the start of the series. I don’t know what the Caps’ chances are, though I don’t fancy them, and I will again be pleasantly surprised if they have some success. Who knows, maybe this is The Year. Maybe they come out of the gates flying and play like the team that we were hoping and looking for throughout the disheartening and disappointing regular season. It would be a remarkable story, one that I wouldn’t miss. The malaise of the regular season, however, should not be forgotten amidst the relief of making the second one.
And of course, as a Caps and a hockey fan, it’s entirely probable all this goes right out the window when the first body check is thrown on Thursday night. Hockey’s like that.