Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was all smiles in the locker room after his team’s dramatic 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. After firing coach Bruce Boudreau on Nov. 28, it seemed the organization that had year-by-year built towards a Stanley Cup title had finally stagnated. There was still plenty of young talent on hand, but Washington had to fight just to sneak into the playoffs. For a team used to finishing near the top of the conference, that was hard to take. So an overtime victory was exactly what the organization needed to put a disappointing regular season behind it.
“That was beautiful. That wasn’t pretty, that was beautiful,” Leonsis said. “I think winning any way you can is what playoff hockey is about. And it’s always one mistake, one turnover and this play reminded me a lot of the play in our barn. All of a sudden it’s a nothing play and someone’s in transition and takes a shot on goal and it’s in the back of the net.”
Of course, the Caps beat the New York Rangers in the first round of last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs in five hard-fought games and were swept out of the postseason by Tampa Bay. On the heels of playoff losses to Montreal and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, it was devastatingly quick exit and led to a summer of soul-searching. So they weren’t exactly dumping champagne on each other in the visitor’s locker room at TD Garden.
“You know, I’ve owned the team a long time now and I don’t get excited or too up or too down,” Leonsis said. “You got to win 16 [to win a Stanley Cup] and all we did was win four. So good for the team, good for the franchise and I’m really happy for the fans. Our fans have been so great, so supportive and I feel such joy for them.”
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