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Stanley Cup Playoff postcard: Washington

NHL.com's Nicholas J. Cotsonika helps wife cope with trials of being longtime Capitals fan

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

WASHINGTON -- My dear wife,

Wish you were here to see your Washington Capitals play the Toronto Maple Leafs in Games 1 and 2 of this best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series. But maybe it's best you weren't. I love you. I care about your health.

You've been a Capitals fan for a long time. You suffered when the Detroit Red Wings swept them in the 1998 Stanley Cup Final, and you have suffered as they have failed to advance past the second round ever since, despite all their regular-season success.

When they won this season, it made you nervous, because you didn't want them to peak too early or be jinxed by the Presidents' Trophy. When they lost, it made you nervous, because, well, they lost. When they drew Toronto in the first round, you winced. No matter whom they drew, you would have winced. For your Capitals, the first round is something to survive.

The Verizon Center was filled with people like you. They came dressed in red and cheered -- right up until Toronto took a 2-0 lead in Game 1 on Thursday. Then you could feel the tension, the stress.

"WAKE UP!" one fan screamed from the stands.

The Capitals did wake up and won 3-2 in overtime.

But then they gave out cowbells for Game 2 on Saturday, making one of the loudest arenas in the NHL even louder. They fell behind 1-0, took a 2-1 lead, fell behind 3-2, tied it 3-3, and lost in double overtime 4-3. There was a low jingle/rattle the entire night, and more cowbell when something good happened for Washington, and finally silence.

You don't need this. You don't want to ride this roller coaster. You probably shouldn't watch on TV either when the series shifts to Toronto for Game 3 on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2, CSN-DC).

Go for a walk. Read a book. Do something, anything, else.

OK. Sorry. Just trying to make you feel better, because I get to be here, you're at home and I feel bad. I know I can't fool you.

I'll bring you a cowbell.

Love,

Nick

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