The NHL continues to torture the Caps with banner-raising ceremonies

Chris Lingebach
October 04, 2019 - 9:33 pm
NHL keeps torturing the Caps with banner-raising ceremonies

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Capitals had to endure yet another banner raising ceremony as the visiting club for the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues' home opener on Wednesday.

It continues a grueling but frequent tradition of the NHL scheduling the Caps for these ceremonies, but they were at least able, this time, to wreck the defending champs' evening by climbing from a 2-0 hole and going on to win the season-opener 3-2 in overtime.

Washington at least has the peace of mind of having been on the other side of it now, winning the Stanley Cup in 2018 and hosting the Boston Bruins for their season-opener last season. At any point before that, it was what seemed an act of torture as the league often made the Caps – stuck in second-round purgatory for decades – the visitors for such banner-raising ceremonies over and over.

The Capitals in Oct. 2016, months after being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by Pittsburgh, had to watch the Penguins raise their Stanley Cup championship banner at PPG Paints Arena. Later that season, the Caps would go on to be eliminated by Pittsburgh in the second round again, and would, for the second straight year, watch them go on to win the Stanley Cup.

The Caps would finally get even a year later, knocking the Pens out of the playoffs in the second round, before going on to glory themselves, winning their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history. It's a shame the NHL didn't see the Penguins fit for a worthy opponent when the Caps raised their banner months later at Capital One Arena.

Defenseman John Carlson, now in his 11th year with the Caps, has been on both sides of the pomp and circumstance. Carlson joins 106.7 The Fan's Chad Dukes each Wednesday throughout the 2019-20 season at 3:30, a weekly segment presented by The Purple Heart, and acknowledged it's a bit awkward to watch your opponent's banner go up in the rafters.

"Yeah, I mean it's probably an extra 15 or 20 minutes where we're kind of sitting around doing nothing," he said. "But I can tell you for sure, it was nicer to see St. Louis raise the banner than it was Pittsburgh. That was certainly a little bit of a different feel."

"And yeah, we've been through a lot of them," he said. "That's what I think turned that win into a really good win, with the circumstances, with the crowd. It was pretty wild in there as you could expect and, to go down in the 2-0 hole and come back is important for the team, especially early on in the season, to get started off right."

Carlson said that was the perfect way to start off a new campaign.

"I think early on in seasons, it's easy to – not play yourself out of the playoffs and all that kind of stuff; I wouldn't go that far – but it's easy to look at the end of October and be like, 'Oh, we really got an uphill battle here in the next month or two,'" he said.

"I think starting it that way was big, in the sense that we played the champs. We played the defending champs, and they've got just as good of a lineup, if not even better, this season than last. Against a good team, you always want to (come out on top), and just the way that we battled I think will give us some confidence in this early lead to hopefully springboard us into a good start."

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