Boswell on the physical pain of hockey
In this series, Cap players were criticized, accurately but facilely, for not going to the net enough to create more vision-obstructing traffic in front of hot goalie Jaroslav Halak. But at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Friday, the physical pain of hockey was on display. Each player develops his own level of tolerance for the terrors of his game. It's hard to change your risk profile on demand.
In Game 2, Eric Belanger had eight teeth knocked out by a Habs player's stick. He had exposed roots in his teeth trimmed between periods and returned to the game.
"I was dreaming about raising the Cup. When you don't, it's hard to swallow," said Belanger, just minutes after having explained that he still can't swallow without pain.
Belanger's injury was a nick compared to what happened to Tom Poti, who now has four titanium plates and about 12 screws in his face after a Montreal shot deflected off a stick in Game 6. Doctors said he escaped being blinded by "a couple of millimeters." Poti spent the next 30 hours with no vision in his right eye and only started seeing shadows as he was going into surgery.
Yet the defenseman was back at Verizon Center to see Game 7 and, provided his blurred vision returned in time, he planned to play later in this postseason run with a cage on his face. Doctors say he should begin to regain the feeling in the left side of his face again in about two months.
Of course, Poti also arrived for the team's final meeting, though under orders not to lift anything or even bend over.
In light of the physical price they all pay to play and the pain they all now feel, perhaps the Caps are entitled to interpret their collapse in any light that eases their burden. And so they will.
Look for more on how the Caps are dealing with their loss in Boswell's column tomorrow.
April 30, 2010; 6:51 PM ET
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