- The year starts out on a high note. Caps leave repeated failure on national TV in 2010 and turn it around into cinematic victory at the Winter Classic. We briefly but intensely love Eric Fehr again upon remembering this day.
- Braden Holtby is called up and is remarkable--wins two games with one goal against each. On the second of these, a game against the Leafs, 1/22/2011, Ovechkin also gets a hat trick. It's exactly as glorious as it sounds.
- Michal Neuvirth shuts out the Penguins back to back, which results in me buying a Neuvirth jersey, because nothing wins my affections faster than making the Penguins look stupid. Yep, that's a shaky goalie, all right.
- We pick up Arnott, Sturm, and Wideman at trade deadline. Arnott is a mighty elk for the time he's with us, Sturm is semi-useless, and I do not get Wideman but he grows on me.
- Caps finish the season 7-2-1 on their way to a number one seed.
- First playoffs game vs Rangers. For 18 minutes and 24 seconds, this is your nightmare. The score is tied. Shots aren't getting through. Caps can't get pucks past a hot goalie. PTSD is kicking in.
- Then Alex Semin answers your prayers. (You always briefly become religious during the playoffs.) CAPS WIN.
- Caps win the series 5-1, and everyone you know is going to hear about it, dammit.
- Most short-lived happiness award. Caps swept by Tampa Bay in four games. Sobbing in your car.
- You will never know happiness again.
- Except that after a month of other teams salivating after Brooks Laich, the Caps resign him anyway. I am notified of this via Caps text alert in the middle of breakfast at Denny's. Some unseemly shrieking ensues.
- GMGM makes some more nifty deals! SUNLIGHT BREAKING THROUGH THE CLOUDS OF YOUR DC SPORTS FANDOM. Maybe things will be all right. Hope.
- The picture of Ovechkin looking fat heard round the world.
- Also this happens.
- The summer takes a turn for the worse. We lose Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak.
- #SashaCares. During a radio interview for his new team, the Florida Panthers, former Caps player Matt Bradley says that Alex Semin "just doesn't care." Since it is summer and no actual hockey is being played, this is a Huge Story.
- Plane carrying KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crashes, killing all but one member of the team, who dies later in the hospital. Shock.
- Bruce Boudreau comes into camp preaching a brand-new accountability. Hockey world raises an eyebrow, but he appears to be serious.
- Season opening. Unbridled optimism.
- Unbridled optimism immediately validated. ALL WE DO IS WIN. Ignore flaws and faults, we're a victory machine! We will go 82-0!
- Mike Green takes a puck to the face, somehow injures ankle? Injury ninja.
- Loss to Edmonton. Welcome back to planet Earth.
- So apparently there were some flaws and faults or something.
- Caps lose games, and lose them badly. Family and friends wish the Caps would stop losing so that you would be less cranky.
- Bruce Boudreau after a crushing loss to Buffalo: "If I've got to teach them how to be tough, then I don't know quite how to do that."
- Famous last words. Boudreau fired, Caps alum Dale Hunter hired. Back where you belong.
- Hard times in Washington DC. It is Caps hunting season. Predators: every other team in the league.
- Except for the actual Predators, who we proceed to have a stellar game against. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We can see it.
Goodbye, 2011, don't let the door hit you in the ass. Growing pains are not so fun, and painful lessons in maturity aren't either. There were some good times--but we can do better.
2012 is going to be so great, you guys. Are you excited? I am. The Caps are going to be stunning, unbelievable, we're going to be the comeback story of the year. We haven't been the underdog in awhile, have we? But guess what, nobody makes sappy sports movies about the overwhelming favorites. Maybe tougher is better. It's about time for everything to not come so easy for this team.
I have a good feeling about this 2012 thing. Let's be spectacular.
Let's go Caps.