Snyder: Caps’ unwelcome visitors make themselves at home, again

Hello, doubts.

Hello questions, worries and fears.

We would say “Welcome.” But it wouldn’t be heartfelt.

No one in the DMV wanted to see you again. You’ve become all too familiar around here.

You swoop in every spring, like a bunch of tourists gawking at the monuments. But instead of clogging the roads, sidewalks and Metro, your congestion attacks our hopes, dreams and aspirations.

We thought you might be a no-show this year when the Capitals rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to tie their series with the hated Pittsburgh Penguins. We thought the Caps finally dissuaded you from coming after they outclassed the defending Stanley Cup champs in back-to-back playoff games.

But you arrived on the Penguins’ charter flight and stuck around after another Presidents’ Trophy-season ended shy of even the Eastern Conference finals.

Try as we might, we just can’t ignore you. The 1-9 record in postseason series against Pittsburgh is impossible to overlook. And it certainly doesn’t help that coach Barry Trotz fits in TOO well, an 18-year veteran who has never reached the conference finals.

This season was supposed to be different. These weren’t the same old Caps who always excel until games count the most. They would show you.

But’s it’s all too familiar, like Groundhog Day … except without Bill Murray to crack us up. Nothing but dark comedies play at Verizon Center, where morose crowds come to sit in silence and see the Caps die.

Watch. Rinse. Repeat.

“I really don’t look at it that way, to be honest with you,” defenseman Brooks Orpik told The Washington Post. “I think every year you come in, it’s a different group. And obviously, some guys have endured more of those tough losses than other guys. But I think every year you’re kind of taking the challenge upon ourselves with a different group.”

That makes perfect sense if we’re applying logic. If we’re being rational. If we’re avoiding mumbo jumbo about curses and jinxes and karma.

In other words, if we’re not being human.

As mere mortals, we’re susceptible to being played by our emotions and led astray by our feelings. We become creatures of habit, conditioned in this case to expect the worst and dismiss the best … like winning two in a row to force a Game 7 at home.

That was just the opening you needed – doubts, questions, worries and fears – to make your annual reappearance and leave us wondering if the Caps will ever win.

You’re back.

But in reality, you’ve been here all along.

— Follow Deron on Twitter @DeronSnyder and email him at deron1067thefan@gmail.com.

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