Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom has a message to the frustrated hockey fans of Washington and it’s a strong one.
“I love them,” Backstrom said. “I love Washington fans. They’re absolutely the best fans in the world and even if we disappoint them, hopefully they have faith in us. We’re gonna do it. We’re gonna do it one day. I promise them.”
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was equally appreciative.
“Thank you,” he said when asked if he had a message for the fans. “Thanks to the fans because they support us hard, they push us forward all the time. Sometimes it’s disappointed moment.”
Thursday was a day for the Capitals to meet with their coaches, shake hands and pack their bags for a long summer.
It will be a summer of regrets after being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs for the fifth time during the Ovechkin era.
There were many different opinions over why the Capitals fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
Defenseman Matt Niskanen said he thought the Penguins were a faster team and used that to their advantage. Alex Ovechkin credited the goaltending of Penguins rookie Matt Murray.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik said he thought the Capitals might have peaked too early in the season, while Justin Williams said there is “no such thing.”
If there was one thing everyone could agree on it was that they did not expect to be talking about their season being over with two more rounds to play in the post-season.
“It sure felt like it was going to happen for us this year,” Niskanen said. “I think we had the right focus, I think we had a good attitude this year. I thought we took a huge stride. We went after it. The only good thing is we’re set up pretty well to go at it again next year.”
Added Ovechkin: “Obviously, it’s disappointing. Obviously you don’t want to stay here and talk about finishing the year and all that kind of stuff. I think we have huge progress mentally and growth. I think we’re growing up as a group and as a team.
“It sucks when you lose in the first round, second round or third round, it doesn’t matter. Your goal is win the Cup, obviously. I think we’re growing up as a group of guys who’s been on this team. I think this team was tight as a group. I’ve never been in this kind of position when I see everybody love each other, everybody have fun, play for each other. It’s been outstanding.”