The Washington Capitals have been eliminated from the 2011 NHL Playoffs in embarrassing fashion, getting swept in the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning. They're the first No. 1 seed since 1994 to be swept in the first or second round of the playoffs, and after playoff failures in each of the last three years, you can't help but think the franchise is at a crossroads. It's also especially depressing because the Capitals are the great hope of the city, the sports team that all the other losing professional sports teams are supposed to emulate.
Now what? That's the question everyone will be pondering in the coming days. In the meantime, the immediacy of Twitter allows us to relive the pain we all felt at the moment we knew it was over. Here are a bunch of immediate reactions from the people who care about the team the most.
Alan May, CSN analyst (on TV): "I really thought they tactically never adjusted in this series." ... "I'm glad I'm not a general manager, because I'm not sure what I'd do."
Dan Steinberg: When is NBA draft lottery? Preakness? Spelling Bee?
Neil Greenberg, Russian Machine Never Breaks: Looks like the "Winter Classic Visitor Wins Cup" thing is over, eh?
Peter Hassett, Russian Machine Never Breaks: Towards the mean the Caps regressed. They hit it and kept on falling. From an offensive lean to a defensive pose, the Capitals transformed themselves because they had to. And then they hit the postseason at full speed. Into a wall of Lightning.
Michael Wilbon: Does firing the coach really fix the Washington Capitals? Three straight years the Caps wind up being biggest disappointment in the league.
Thom Loverro: Fred Shero on committment -- it's like ham and eggs. The chicken makes a contribution. The pig makes a committment. Caps need some pigs.
Washington Capitals: Many thanks to all of the Washington Capitals fans in the DMV and across the world. There is no question you are the best fans in the NHL.