Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 30 - Washington Capitals vs. San Jose Sharks (in San Jose)

Well, this has not been the best week for the Capitals. Blech. Three shots in the first period? Three?

I can't really theorize about what's going on with my team, but I can say that they have not been themselves the past two games. However, there's no debating that the Sharks are also a good team - a good team that we beat thoroughly when they were in DC this fall.

I received an interesting email from a family friend who happens to be a Sharks season ticket holder. He suggested several scintillating blog topics for me including: "Does Alex Ovechkin need therapy?" and "Why isn't Alex Ovechkin captain? Because he's a head case?"

Ahh, hockey fandom really does bring out the best in people doesn't it?

Allow me to humor Baskman and answer the above questions. First, lots of us need therapy, who cares if Ovie does? But I doubt he regularly sees a therapist. If he does, really, that's his decision, not a decision for the San Jose fans to make. And is he a head case? Maybe, but he's certainly a head case I want on my team.

Perhaps this is a good time to remind my readers just how much I love Alex Ovechkin. I wear a necklace with his #8 logo on it every single day. Yep. That is how much of a hockey dork I have become. He is the most inspiring athlete I've ever known of and one of the most inspiring people. Every time I watch him play I am reminded to live my life more fully, to embrace what I love and to enjoy every moment.

As for last night's game. One of the penalty shots was clearly a terrible call. John Erskine did not throw his stick. It was knocked from his hands. So now the Sharks are winning 4 to 2. Still not a good showing from the Caps. Clearly, they didn't have their act together, but the loss wasn't Ovie's fault. He scored one of the two goals for crying out loud and you really can't blame him for getting frustrated with the San Jose defenders who kept him boxed in a lot of the night.

The Capitals were trying to be too fancy and passed way more than they took shots on goal. In spite of the abysmal performance, I liked seeing Jason Chimera play. It was great that he got an assist and it was very nice to see Knuble score again. It's been a while and perhaps he's back in hockey shape after his injury.

The Sharks played well. They won in their own arena. Shall we remember when they were in DC not so long ago? That was the time the Capitals played well and won in their arena. Hmm.

Anyways, I am confident that the Caps will bounce back and start playing like the team they are in the new year. And if we should meet the Sharks in the playoffs, the Caps will be ready.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Reason I Love Alex Ovechkin



Check out this cute photo of Ovie meeting with a Ukranian hockey team that is visiting the US. He may be flashy and love having models draped on his arms, but Alex Ovechkin also knows what's important and he always treats fans, especially little kids, really well. More than fancy cars and a flamboyant personality, how he interacts with regular people shows his character. Awesome athlete, charismatic superstar, good person.

December 28 - Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Well, that was a terrible hockey game. The Capitals did not look like the Capitals and I am guessing it had a lot to do with the trade that many players found out about when they arrived at Verizon Center for the game that afternoon. No matter how mentally tough a team is, losing two players so unexpectedly has to take a toll.

I think it was honestly the worst first period all season. The Capitals gave up three goals and took only four shots. It was painful to watch. To their credit, they tried to battle back and at one point had only a one goal deficit, but then the worst team in the NHL scored their fifth goal of the night and the hope in the room deflated.

The game ended with an empty-netter leaving the score at 3-6.

The Caps are no longer undefeated in the Southeast Division, but they're still leading the division by far. And really, who can blame them for being a little off their game?

Now they get to meet their new teammate and learn to play with him. I hope he's a good addition.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holy Hockey News!

The Capitals news of the moment is that Chris Clark (the captain) and Milan Jurcina were traded to the Columbus blue jackets for Jason Chimera, a winger who injured Ovechkin earlier this season. This means more cap space for salaries and the Caps need a new captain.

I was pretty surprised by this move. Neither Clark nor Jurcina were our best players, but they were certainly not the worst. I am sure the team will miss them. As an athlete, you must always know this is a possibility in the back of your mind, but it still has to be shocking when it happens.

From the fan's perspective, neither player was a favorite of mine, but I still think it's a little sad to take two guys off the team who have been a part of it for so long. Especially Clark who was around in the days when nobody showed up for games. What a bummer for him if the Caps go all the way this year.

I don't know much about this new Chimera character. He'll be wearing number 25. I hope he's a good fit for the team.

In other news, Alexander Semin signed a 1 year contract with the Caps which is great news. I am happy that Semin will be sticking around. I hope he renews again next year. He's a really great addition to the team (especially when he's not injured).

December 26 - Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils

Amazing game! We kept the Devils to only one goal. Ovie opened the scoring. Green and Backstrom also scored and Matt Bradley got a goal which is always an amazing sign for the game to come.

Michal Neuvirth made 29 saves and beat Martin Brodeur - the record-holder in shutouts and an amazing goalie. It was a really exciting game and a solid win over a team that beat the Caps in the three previous meetings this season. Whewh!

The Caps pr staff did a big thing about it being Hockey Night in Washington, which was pretty cute since it was Saturday night.

Even though the goals came mostly from the top players (and Bradley), it still looked like a solid team effort.

Beating New Jersey put the Caps back at the top of the eastern standings and secured a win over a team that they could very well face come playoff time.

A nice aside: Nick Backstrom (who was named to the Swedish Olympic team) got his 200th point of the night and was up on the big screen where Ovie and Semin were messing with him and waving their gloved hands in his face which was cute. Backstrom ended the night with 202 career points in 202 career games.

December 23 - Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabers

I was so nervous about this game after Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller kept the Caps from scoring in their last meeting. But, the Capitals kicked butt. It was a great game and it was particularly great to see Micheal Neuvirth so strong in goal.

I clearly waited too long to post about this game because I don't remember many details. I do, however, remember the awesome feeling of savoring the win over a tough team.

New years resolution # 1. Update blog right after games from now on.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Hockey Day!

After lots and lots of away games, the Capitals are finally home and play Buffalo tonight.

Neil and I were supposed to be in Oregon hanging out with our new nephew and future Caps fan, Reuben, but Snowpacolypse 2009 kept us in DC. Since we're in town after all, we're very excited about tonight's game. It has been way too long since we've been able to cheer the Caps on in person.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 19 - Washington Capitals vs. Edmonton Oilers (at Edmonton)

I couldn't actually watch this game because for some crazy reason, I am unable to get CSN+ through my Comcast cable. I ended up listening to the radio broadcast online. Neil and I spent the entire day being snowed into our apartment because of Blizzard 2009 and counting the hours until the game and then when it was finally 10 pm, there was no game on TV. Blergh.

Listening to the broadcast wasn't terrible. I wish I could have seen them playing, but the broadcasters did a good job of telling me what was going on.

Basically, the first 40 minutes were lame  - a combo of the Edmonton goalie being on his game and the Caps not trying hard enough - and then the Caps caught fire. Ovie got two goals and an assist in the third period. Fleischmann and Backstrom each got a goal and the Caps won 4-2.

Apparently, Coach Boudreau gave an inspiring lecture (or really yelled at them) between periods 2 and 3 and it really worked.

Some interesting things about the radio broadcast:
1) You could hear the Edmonton announcer and he was funny-sounding. He sounded kind of nerdy.
2) You could hear when the fans cheered or booed and when Ovie scored there was a heck of a lot of cheering. Apparently there were many fans there in Ovechkin jerseys and I am sure not many of them actually live in DC.
3) In some ways, I was paying even closer attention to the game because I had to listen and then visualize what the announcers were saying. If I didn't know as much about hockey, it would have been really hard to follow, which is probably why I can't stand it when Neil tries to listen to radio broadcasts of football when we're in the car.

The Caps planned to fly home to DC last night and I wonder how that worked out for them since all the airports were closed nearly all of yesterday. Due to Snowpacolypse 2009, our trip to Oregon has been postponed and we'll be around for the home game Wednesday. I'm looking forward to seeing the Caps crack Ryan Miller and score some goals.

December 18 - Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks (at Vancouver)

We stayed up for this one and it was close, but the Caps did not have the spark they've had in recent games. It wasn't a terrible effort, it just wasn't awesome. The power play was extremely disappointing, especially for being first in the NHL. And Ovie wasn't really noticeable on the ice.

I wonder if there's a special added pressure that comes with playing in Canada? I know there was a circus in town around Ovie, and that must have taken a bit of a toll. Or perhaps it was the team dinner?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Caps are in Canada

The Capitals play in Vancouver tonight - really late!

Apparently, it's quite a scene around Ovechkin while he's in town. The Washington Post beat reporter said he couldn't get near Ovie after practice yesterday to hear what he was saying and the Vancouver ran an entire photo gallery today of Ovie at practice. They also ran this great article about Ovie and the Caps. I love the anecdote about the Vancouver player's son who is a huge Ovechkin fan.

It's been way too hockey-less in DC this past week or so. Sadly, I will be missing the game next week on the 23rd against Buffalo. If any of my blog readers want to buy the tickets, leave a comment with your email address and I'll get back to you. We need to sell them before our flight leaves tomorrow evening (hopefully it does leave and we don't get stuck in the blizzard).

Meanwhile, David Kochi was not suspended for his hit on Mike Green, which is pretty surprising given how much the league is cracking down on head shots and how they have been handing out other suspensions this season. Eh hem. Fortunately, Green says he's ready to play tonight... but the video of him with his black eye and stitches did not look good.

I'll be trying to stay up to see the game tonight and posting some overdue photos later on too. Go Caps!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 15 - Washington Capitals vs. Colorado Avalanche (at Colorado)

Well, THAT was convincing. The Capitals beat the Avalanche 6-1 last night in Denver in a fantastic game, marred only by Mike Green being hit from behind by David Koci and having to leave the game at the end of the second period. Hopefully Green will be ok and Koci will get a suspension for one of the dirtier boarding hits from behind that I've seen.

I love this story from the Denver Post. Awesome writing and very complimentary to the Caps. (How could it not be.) My favorite excerpt from the story:

"Washington came to the Pepsi Center — its first visit since Oct. 25, 2006 — and cut through the Avs with the swiftness and precision of one of Alexander Ovechkin's skates through the Pepsi Center ice, departing with a 6-1 win over Colorado.

"If this was one of those 'measuring stick' games, then the Avs are still Danny DeVito in comparison to Washington's stature."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 12 - Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Bummer. In spite of a stellar start to the game (which we missed because Comcast didn't have CSN+ on any channel) the Capitals completely collapsed and lost to the lowly Leafs.

Neil and I had to leave home and go to the Green Turtle to watch the game. For whatever reason, the bar was completely empty. We got a booth with our own TV, which was fun, and we ate some bad food and watched a bad game.

We'd left a holiday party early to make it home to watch the game and it was pretty disappointing to see them lose in such spectacular fashion. Based on Theo and Neuvirth's performances as of late, we really need Varly back in net. I have faith in both Theo and Neuvy, but they really didn't take the opportunity to step up their games last week. Varly is traveling with the team this week, but not expected to play.

Here's hoping the Caps bring their A game when they play the Avalanche tonight. We'll be staying up late to watch.

December 11 - Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricaines

The Caps won off a Mike Green game winning goal in overtime, but this game was intense! I think the Caps were tired, because the team that's first in the NHL should be more impressive against the team that's last in the NHL, but that just was not the case. This was one of those games where I was sitting on my hands and trying not to bite my nails the whole time.

On the way in, I saw a guy in an awesome hat. I am not sure why he wears it, but he told me he's asked to pose for photos frequently. I suppose it is cold in the arena... but I think my head would be hot under that woolly monster.




It was also kid's night at the game so there were tons of mascots running around acting silly. After the game we saw Elmo rocking the red (like he can help it).





It was fun to be at a home game and to see Green get the game winning goal in overtime. After the game, the Caps headed off for a long stretch on the road. They'll be missed around DC.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 9 - Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabers (at Buffalo)

I have been avoiding posting about this stinker of a game. It is very sad when the Capitals get shut out. Blergh.

It was clear that they weren't playing their best. It was also clear that Miller, the Buffalo goalie, was amazing. Wow.

I hope this is the only shutout of the season and that the Caps get back to winning.

Knuble is rumored to be back in the lineup for tonight's game and that's certainly promising.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When The Canadians Declare It, It's Official and Hockey Players are Tough

Canada's national paper, The Globe and Mail has a great column in today's edition declaring the Capitals "the real deal". Now, I've known this to be true for a few years at this point, but when the Canadian hockey media makes such a bold declaration, that's a good sign. (Thanks to my Canadian friend Lia for pointing this article out to me.)

Another good read from today's hockey news is this story about Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt who was hit by an SUV yesterday and still played in last night's game against Philadelphia. Of course, he was hit in Philly, home of the meanest hockey fans and apparently drivers as well. I watched this game last night and was dismayed to see that the Flyers seemed to have gotten out of their slump. But since the Caps are the real deal, I'm not too worried.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 7 - Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (at Tampa)

Caps are #1 in the NHL!

Ovie scored two goals!

Varly recorded a shut out!

The Caps have beat Tampa 12 times in a row!

Last night's 3-0 shutout was yet another convincing win for my Capitals. The game against the Flyers was a bit more entertaining, but 3 goals was plenty for last night. It was great to see Ovie back in action and with two goals. He's only one behind the lead in the NHL even with all the games he's missed this season. (I think it's 8 total).

Also last night, Matt Bradley and his wife had their first baby, a boy named Henry. Bradley skipped the game last night and flew home to be with his wife - good choice.

It's nice to be on top of the NHL standings, but the more important thing is for the team to keep up the strong team play and hopefully it will peak during the playoffs this spring.  There sure is a lot to love about the Capitals right now.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 5 - Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers (at Philadelphia)

Question: What is even better than a strong win over a Southeast division opponent?

Answer: A complete and total walloping of the Philadelphia Flyers!

The Capitals triumphed over the Flyers 8 to 2. That's right eight goals for the Caps! It was pretty amazing to watch from my cozy couch after a snowy day here in DC.

The biggest headline of the game other than the phenomenal score is probably Dan Carcillo, a Flyer who sucker punched Matt Bradley, getting himself expelled from the game and giving the Caps a nine-minute power play during which the Caps scored three times. Carcillo was suspended for four games for the move, and rightly so. I don't recall seeing anything quite that egregious in any game I've watched. Luckily, after some (more) stitches, Bradley is apparently ok.

The rest of the game was pretty amazing. Fleishman and Green each scored twice. The other goals came from Laich, Backstrom, Clark and the final goal went to David Steckel who had yet to score this season. I was hoping he'd get one and in the final few minutes of the game, he finally did.

The Flyers were playing their first game with a new coach and have been having a tough time lately. Everyone expected them to be on fire for their first opportunity to show off for the new man in charge. Not so much. Any fire that was there was quickly extinguished by the Caps.

The Caps keep roaring through their games, even without Ovechkin. Ovie should be back tomorrow night when the team plays Tampa Bay. I hope Matt Bradley is back, too.

Friday, December 4, 2009

December 3 - Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

Awesome game! Welcome back Alex Semin. The Caps demolished the Panthers last night with a final score of 6-2. Had the game ended 3:22 earlier, it would have been 6-0.

Matt Bradley got a short handed goal (the first for the Caps this season), so I knew it was going to be a good game. As I have said before, when Matt Bradley scores, you know things are going to go well.

Fleishman, Backstrom and Morrison also scored and Semin notched two goals and two assists. Wow.

Sure the Panthers were tired and we're a better team, but a convincing win like this is always a great thing to see.

The Panthers were in the penalty box nearly the entire third period after one of their players was kicked out of the game and the Caps got a 7 minute power play. Seven minutes! It was nuts.

I actually went to the game on my own. Neil joined for the tail end of the first period, all of the second period and the very beginning of the third. I had a lot of anxiety about not being with Neil or a friend at the game, but it was actually completely fine because the guy who normally sits near Neil is friendly with us and we talked. Normally, I can't really talk to him because Neil is between us, but last night he kept me company. On the other side of me, there are two seats that are shared by a large group of people.

The guy who came to the game last night is someone I scared to death last year (on accident) when I flinched when he put his beer in the cup holder between us. I do not actually remember the encounter, but I am guessing it was a game or two after the guy behind me spilled beer on my head and my sweatshirt and jacket and was so drunk he didn't care. I became a little touchy about the stuff after that. Anyways, the guy who was scared of me always keeps his beer on his other side when he's at games. Last night, we talked and I apologized for whatever I did last year to scare him and it became friendly enough that every time there was a goal (for those of you who may have forgotten, there were 6) we jumped up and high fived.

In summary, going to games alone isn't really like going alone because I know the people who sit near us.

I am still annoyed about Ovie's suspension, but only one more game until he's back. He was apparently skating full speed at practice today and has cast aside the knee brace he'd been wearing. Yay! I am guessing he'll be on fire in his first game back. Just a theory.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Way to Go George McPhee

Caps GM George McPhee spoke on the radio this morning about Ovie's suspension and why he doesn't think it was deserved. So well-said. It's really nice that team officials are standing up for him.

"In my mind the player was trying to make a hit and it went wrong," McPhee said. "And that's ok. When you're trying to hurt someone, if you're trying to do something where a player is vulnerable or he doesn't see you coming--you hit him from behind, you hit him from the blindside--I want those hits punished. But in this instance, it was an open-ice check, and it was a good attempt at a hit that went wrong, and sometimes they're gonna go wrong.

"You have a player in Ovechkin who is one of the league leaders in hits, and they're not all gonna go right. But if it's an attempt at a legal hit and it goes wrong, it doesn't mean it's suspend-able. And in my mind, when there's no intent to injure, and there is no injury, you can't suspend the guy. And the league's concern is that Ovi's really been physical lately and he's going to hurt someone. I said, 'Well, if he hurts someone, suspend him.' But you can't suspend someone for something that might happen."

Awesome! To read more of McPhee's comments go here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good Column To Check Out

I can get behind this good column in today's Post by Thomas Boswell. I do hope Ovie adds an ounce of caution to his game/life. I would like to be inspired by him for many more years.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Too Many Ovie Haters

Hockey blogs (and, briefly, my Facebook page) are ablaze with anti-Ovechkin sentiment today after his knee-on-knee hit in last night's game.

I know we love to hate the hockey players that we love to hate. I can go on for a while about my dislike for Sidney Crosby. But I know he's a good player and I don't wish for him to be injured.

I know I am a major Capitals fan and that fandom was sparked by the pure joy for life that Ovie plays with. But, still, I wonder how so many people can cast him as the villain in their minds. I am positive that Ovie didn't mean to hurt anyone. I know that he just wants to play good hockey and he never hits to be mean or to injure. He has done too many things in his time as a Capital that show his good character. His coaches and the team owner attest to him being a good person. I have seen him interact with fans, with teammates and with opponents and he has been nothing but kind. You just can't fake that. He may be overly aggressive or reckless at times and I hope he will play with a bit more caution from here on out, but he's not the bad guy.

He's losing a chunk of money for his two game suspension - nearly $100,000. I doubt that matters too much to him, but it's still significant. His statement on his suspension speaks for itself:

"I regret that this has happened. I'm glad that Tim wasn't injured because I never ever want to see anyone get hurt. I am disappointed to miss these games and I can't wait to get back on the ice next week to help my team."

My question to fans of other NHL teams who are so down on Ovie: Would you be wishing for long-term suspensions and season-ending injuries if Ovie were on your team?

Let me answer that for you. If the Penguins let Crosby go and he became a Capital, only an idiotic Caps fan would keep up the hating. I would welcome him with open arms. Hell, I'd buy his jersey. He'd never be my favorite player, Ovie's got that one locked up, but I'd be happy to have him on my team. Who out there really wouldn't be happy to have Ovie on their team?

Maybe, just maybe the hockey fan community should wish health for all the players in the NHL so that they can keep playing great games and entertaining us for another 5 months (hopefully more like 6.5 for my Caps).

Ovie Updates

Some potentially promising news from Capitals Insider originally posted at 10:56 this morning:

"Alex Ovechkin came out onto the ice here at KCI for less than five minutes moments ago wearing a red track suit. Nothing strenuous, took some strides, handled the puck a couple of times, then left the ice.
The team has not made an any announcement regarding his status."

UPDATE: This afternoon, the team announced that Ovie is officially day to day with a "sore knee". They aren't saying whether he was x-rayed or got an MRI.

In other news, Alex was suspended for two games for the hit. I wonder if it's two games after he's ready to play, or two games period. Maybe he'd miss two games anyways with the injury? Though, Coach Boudreau sounded in his press conference today, like he wouldn't be surprised if Alex was ready to play by Thursday's game against Florida.

It sounds like the entire situation is WAY better than it might have been. Ovie is skating already and is only day to day and he was only suspended two games as opposed to longer. Whewh.

November 30 - Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

The Caps won the game, which is great. Jose Theodore was outstanding. Backstrom scored twice and got one assist and Eric Fher continued his streak with a goal and an assist.

BUT, Ovie got injured and while there are no details yet, it looked pretty bad. He hit a Carolina defenseman knee on knee and definitely got the worst of it. Ovie got a major penalty again and was ejected from the game, but it didn't matter because he couldn't even use his leg when he was taken off the ice.

It's funny. I spend a good deal of my free time attending hockey games, watching hockey games on TV and thinking about hockey (hence, this blog). One of my major fears is Capitals players getting hurt, especially Ovechkin. Watching him hurt on the ice last night made me so sad. I worried about his health, the effect it will have on the team, etc. But maybe even more than that, it was sad because Ovie is like a DC superhero in a way. He's impossibly strong and fast. He's always saving the day in hockey games and as a fan, I want to believe he's indestructible. Of course, he is not. He's fragile and human just like the rest of us... and, don't get me wrong, I like his humanity, too. But if only he had a little more superhero in him last night when he hit his knee.

The team is supposed to release some information on Ovie's condition today after he's seen by the team doctor. I hope it's good news. I hope the injury is not as bad as it looked.

Right now, I am pretty sure that the collective Capitals fan community is holding its breath.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Varly T-Shirts and Coming Out in Hockey

I got two great emails over the weekend that I wanted to share with you, the readers of The View From 419.

The first email is from a Capitals fan named Sarah who Neil and I met when we went to watch the scrimage at the end of development camp this summer. Neil was wearing his I love Var llama v T-shirt and Sarah thought it was really funny.

Since she was the first person to compliment it, I sent her the design and she ordered some shirts for herself and a friend. I had not actually heard from Sarah since I sent the design and was very surprised to get an email from her telling me how much she and her friend love the T-Shirts:

"Just wanted to let you know that I love my llama T-shirt. A friend and I each got one, and we wear 'em all the time."

Sarah then recommended that I submit my shirt to Puck Daddy who has made a list of funny hockey shirts (some slightly vulgar, beware).  Wish me luck! (Thanks for the tip, Sarah)

And now for a completely different topic. A friend of mine who knows how obsessed I am with hockey sent me an email linking to this article this weekend.

I found the story of Brendan Burke inspiring and discouraging all at once. I suppose there aren't many, if any, professional sports where being openly gay is commonly accepted. I just hadn't really thought of it before.

Let's be honest, I didn't even think about professional sports at all until a couple years ago. It's been a slow awakening.

Brendan and his dad are really brave, as are the people around them in the hockey community who are speaking up in support of them. I hope that some day (sooner than later) hockey will be a place where talented athletes can be themselves, no matter their sexual orientation, and be accepted by teammates and fans alike.

November 28 - Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens (at Montreal)

Whewh! This was certainly an exciting game.

In brief summary: The Caps took the lead. The Caps gave away the lead and fell behind by one goal. Eric Fehr scored a goal with an assist from Ovie when there were 11.4 seconds remaining in the game. Backstrom scored the only goal in the shootout. Caps win!

Neil and I, apparently still experiencing Turkey hangover, watched the game from our living room. We had flirted with the idea of driving the 10 or so hours to Montreal to go to the game since we had the time off for the holiday. However, the game was sold out and we weren't quite crazy enough to commit to 20 hours in a car for one hockey game. Maybe next time.

I will say, that it would have been a fun one to see in person. The second period, when the Caps stopped playing, would have been not so fun, but hey, it wasn't fun to watch that from home, either.

Ovie and Varly were both really on top of their games as was Eric Fehr, who scored two of the Caps' three goals. It was also nice to see Backstrom get an assist and then the shootout goal. He'd gone something like 8 games without getting any points.

It was really good to see the team pull together in the final minutes of the game and get that goal (in the final seconds). It was just the kind of comeback they needed and they made it happen. 

I can't wait for the team to get back to DC for their game Wednesday... All these away games are really making me crazy.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

November 25 - Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabers

It had been so long since we'd been to a game in person (a full week!) that Neil and I were really excited to head to Verizon Center on the night before Thanksgiving. We both got off work early and took naps to prepare for the game. After a quick dinner at Camille's with other Caps fans, we headed to our seats.

Buffalo is a tough team and the Caps have been losing lately, so the game was really a big test for our injury-ravaged team. From 419, it looked like the Caps were dominating for the majority of the game. The very beginning was rough and the Caps were outshot something like 9 to 1. Fortunately, that 1 was taken by Ovechkin and it went in.

Ovie looked like his old self finally and the first two periods remained 1-0 in favor of the Caps. Varly was stellar in goal again and even though there was only a one goal margin, it was looking good for my team.

Then, in the third period, Ovie hit a Buffalo player and was ejected from the game. In the moment, it did not seem like a justified call and after watching the replay when I got home, it still looked like a perfectly legal hit.



Fortunately, the Caps were able to kill off the 5 minute penalty and the team rallied for Ovie. Eric Fehr scored a second goal for the caps and Varly got his first regular season shut out.

Overall, great game. Fortunately, it sounds like Ovie will not get a suspension for the hit. I really think that the officials will have to see that the hit didn't even warrant the major penalty or ejection when they review the tape. We'll see.

Also of note: Ovie got a haircut and looks much less scruffy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nifty Guest Blogger with Snappy Writing Coming at You, Locker

Neil, the husband in guest-blogging tonight for hockey-wife extraordinaire Jodi. I'm just popping some lemon Pez candy here while they drop the puck in Ottawa, which is by the way, one of my all-time favorite cities.

I am not much of a drinker, but I gotta say color commentator Craig Laughlin sure makes for an easy drinking game. I think I will eat a Pez every time I hear him say "nifty pass" or "dipsy do."

I've already heard him say "snappy shot" and the cliche "juicy rebound." I think, in fact "juicy rebound" is so cliche Locker should have to drink each time he says it. Heck, he'd be nifty tipsy by the first intermission if he played along.

You know what's fun -- seven guys out injured. I miss Alexander Semin and his loopy skating on the penalty kill.

Gotta run out for a while to a birthday bar party that better have the game on. I'm calling the score now: 3-2 Caps.

Happy Birthday Nick Backstrom

Today is Nicklas Backstrom's 22nd birthday. (Man, I'm old.)

In honor of one of my favorite hockey player's birthday, here's a photo of me and Nick at last year's Hockey n' Heels.


Happy birthday Nick!

I waited in a long line of women to meet Backstrom and have my photo taken with him. It was worth the wait. He was very friendly and he was wearing this cute Swedish sweater.

I hope the Caps make a turnaround tonight and win in Ottawa. My husband, Neil will be guest blogging about tonight's game because I'm going to go indulge another of my obsessions and see New Moon tonight. (Don't worry, I will check the score on my phone.) I hope my interest in Twilight does not take away any of my hockey blogging cred. I won't mention it again, promise.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November 21 - Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (in Toronto)

Tonight, the Caps lost against the worst team in the NHL. Blergh.

Fortunately, it was a shootout loss and the Caps came away with a point. Ovie was back on his game tonight and scored the only goal for Washington off great passes from Brooks Laich and then Mike Green. It was a very pretty play.

While last night, the Caps outplayed Montreal, I think they were outplayed by Toronto tonight. I am not sure the official shot count, but the only reason the Caps stayed in the game was the outstanding goaltending by Varlamov. He was incredible. Unfortunately, I think he psyched himself out in the shootout and we lost.

Carlson was good tonight again. We have a bunch of players from Hershey playing right now because of all the Caps injuries. The little guys are doing pretty well, but I would like the injured players to hurry up and get better. Right now we're missing: Knuble, Poti, Gordon, S. Morrison, Jurcina, Laing, Semin... I think that's everyone. Way too many players to have out at one time.

One more game on the road in Canada on Monday at Ottawa and then back to Verizon Center where I will be rocking the red, of course.

November 20 - Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

It's less fun to write about games when we lose.

The Caps actually played really well against the Habs, but were beat anyways. They did have a slow start and Montreal scored first and that may have been the whole difference.

A highlight was defenseman John Carlson who played his first NHL game and was really fantastic. He has a hard shot and almost scored a goal when he hit the post. He hits when necessary and he's a good defender. It's amazing that he's only 19 years old.

Ovie didn't seem up to speed tonight for some reason. He was constantly covered by the Montreal defense, but even still, he just didn't seem to have his normal jump and he was held without a point.

For the first time at a Caps game I saw two almost-fights. The first was between a Caps fan and a Montreal fan between periods two and three. I think punches were actually thrown, because we came upon it when the Montreal fan was putting his glasses back on and being held back by his friend. He looked very intoxicated.

Later, at the end of the game a fight almost broke out in section 419 when another drunk guy was standing up for the last five minutes of the game and the guys behind him were NOT happy. Fortunately, everyone was streaming out of the arena and the tension was diffused.

It's better when the Caps win and fans leave happy drunks not angry drunks. Note to the team: Please win to prevent fighting!

Caps come home for a game next Wednesday against Buffalo, which should be a fun way to start off the holiday weekend.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mr. Capitals Potato Head! Seriously.

My friend Lia, a Canadian who understands my hockey problem, got me an amazing gift for my birthday earlier this month. In spite of all the attention I pay to Caps merchandise, I had no idea that there were hockey Mr. Potato heads.

Behold:


Here's Mr. Ovie Potato Head - missing tooth and all.



Here Ovie celebrates a goal.



And here's Matt Bradley looking tough before his fight in the Rangers game.

Thank you Lia, for the awesome gift, that, while it may seem frivolous, I clearly could not live without.

Close Encounters With Mike Green

Last night, Neil and I were walking around Chinatown before the Wizards game and we stopped at a corner for traffic when I saw a very cute sports car sitting in front of us with someone in it who looked a whole lot like Mike Green.

I turned to Neil and said, "I swear that's Mike Green in that car." At this point we were like four feet away from the car.

Neil said, "I thought it looked like him too." And then, because Neil is Neil, he yelled, "Green!" and Mike Green, of course, turned and looked at us. He looked slightly confused and all I could do was blush, wave and smile. He waved back and the car drove off.

I wanted to get a look at who was in the driver's seat, because it was a very nice car and it could have been Ovie. But, alas, no luck.

I hope Mike had fun at the game.

Update: Looks like that could have been Ovie driving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Someone Said It Better Than I Did Last Night

Check out this awesome post by Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post about Matt Bradley's amazing game last night. He's got some bloody pictures from Bradley's first period fight and some amazing quotes from Bradley and others about the crazy goal he scored that won the game for the Caps.

Clearly I was too tired to be so clever last night, plus, I didn't have game photos or players to get quotes from.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 17 - Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers (at NY)

Woo! Great game! Neil and I watched from the comforts of home tonight and it was fantastic. Ovie is back and scored a goal, Coach Boudreau got his 100th NHL victory as a coach, Matt Bradley scored a sweet breakaway goal (and as I have stated before, I love games when Matt Bradley scores), and the Caps beat the Rangers in regulation in Madison Square Garden.

Unfortunately, Quintin Laing may have suffered a broken jaw when he blocked a shot. The Caps are really running through the injuries and Laing has some unfortunate luck. I hope he heals fast and is back in the lineup soon.

The game looked a bit like a playoff game with both teams playing hard and neither making many mistakes. It was really good to see the Caps pick up their defensive game and go crazy with the forechecking.

Can't wait till they come home again on Friday night. Man, I love this team.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 14 - Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils (at New Jersey)

This game was too depressing to write about. :(

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 13 - Washington Capitals vs. Minnesota Wild

Another great game with Ovie in the press box. The Caps took more than 40 shots, the Wild's goalie was by far the best player on his team and we won 3-1.

I can't believe there's not another home game until next Friday! That seems like an eternity to wait. Hopefully by then Ovie will be back on the ice.

Mike Knuble broke a finger last night, which is really unfortunate and will require surgery and keep him out for three or four weeks. The Wild seem to be really into hitting and that was basically their only skill. (that and goaltending).  One of them hit Knuble into the net and he jammed his finger.

There were a surprising number of Wild fans in attendance. There was one family all wearing Wild PJ pants. I only got one of the PJ-pant-clad clan on my camera, but it will give you the idea.


Check out the slippers! And this was the mom. There were two kids with her in PJs as well.

I also saw the fan of the game on our way in. He had not yet been declared such, but I had a feeling. Later he won a gift certificate to Clydes and was featured on the Jumbotron. Here, he's waiting to get his drink on.


                                
I wish I had that kind of creativity and bravery when dressing for Caps games. Alas, perhaps I am not destined for fan of the game distinction. The cameras rarely make it to section 419 anyways.

Overall, I am encouraged by how well the team is playing without Ovie. It only means great things for when he's ready to play again. Tonight, the Caps play in New Jersey and I hope they can keep up the winning streak.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 11 - Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders

This game certainly had me on the edge of my seat until the 11th round of the shootout when the Caps finally prevailed.

Ovie was in the box above us again. I didn't take any pictures this time because I left the camera at home. It was still cool to be able to look up and see him on occasion during the game, but I hope he's back on the ice next time the Caps are home.

The energy in the arena was pretty good. I was concerned that since it rained all day in DC yesterday and was cold and icky out, people might not show up, or if they did, they'd be too soggy to cheer. Nope. Alexander Semin got things started by scoring a goal eight seconds into the game and the crowd was excited from then on.

I felt bad for Jose, because it didn't seem like those goals were totally his fault, but after letting in 3 goals on 5 shots, he was pulled. Varly was pretty awesome, especially in the shootout. That may have been the most insane shootout I've seen. 11 rounds! I was starting to wonder what happens when they go through every player? Is it like baseball? Do they all try again? Luckily, Semin and Clark scored and the Caps won.

It's great to see all this success even with Ovie injured. Sure, it was a close game, but the Caps won and that's the most important part.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Trip Into Enemy Territory - Mr. Rogers Rocks The Red

This weekend, Neil, Andy and I went to (gasp) Pittsburgh. While our trip was completely non-hockey-related - we were there to tour Mr. Rogers' neighborhood of make believe - reminders of the fact that we were in enemy territory were everywhere.

There were sports paraphernalia stores packed with Steelers and Penguins gear, the newspaper dispensers had Penguins ads on them and Penguins fans were all over town showing their Penguin pride. Interestingly, there were quite a few Penguins fans waiting in the same long line as us to see the set from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.


 It was the last time the set will be on display before being put into storage and Pittsburgh residents came out in droves. We waited for about two hours and I had plenty of time to spot all the enemy fans in the crowd.

First I noticed a man with a sweatshirt tied around his waist.


Then there was the kid in the ridiculous third jersey.

What are the Penguins' colors anyways? Black? Gold? Powder blue?

Next I saw a man with his jacket tied around his waist.


He may have noticed me taking the photo.

We were beginning to feel outnumbered. But I had my Caps gear hiding in my bag.


There were some guys in T-Shirts.




And a guy who looked like he might kick my butt if he saw me at a game.



And then there was a very confused fan. Clearly, she loves hockey, but which team?




All these hockey fans waited for hours to see the set from Mr. Rogers. Hmm...

We finally made it inside and it was cool to see familiar scenes from my childhood.


We tried to blend in among the Penguins fans. No need to rock the boat, or create animosity among fellow Mr. Rogers fans. We were in enemy territory, after all.

But don't worry. Mr. Rogers was rocking the red.


My Favorite Video For The Moment

This video from Mike Green's site is amazing. Before you do anything else, watch it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November 7 - Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

This was a fantastic night. We brought my friend Andy to his first hockey game tonight. It started with the season ticket holder chalk talk with Ted Leonsis, which was really fascinating. Ted was very open and honest with the fans and it was great to hear him talk about the team with such passion. The Capitals are in very good hands.

After a quick stop at Chipotle, we made it back into the arena in time for the beginning of the game. Without Ovie, Green and Schultz, I was concerned that Andy wasn't going to be in for the most awesome first hockey game experience, but the Caps were fantastic. The second period was a low point, when Jose Theodore looked a little soft in goal and the defense got sloppy. But the third period was amazing. I am not sure when I have seen the Caps score 5 goals in a single period. It just doesn't happen. The final score was 7 to 4. And now, at least for the moment, the Capitals are first in the East.

During the first intermission, I turned around and noticed that Ovie was sitting in the press box right above us. It's definitely the closest he's ever been to section 419 during a game. So, I stared a bit and at one point Ovie stared back! I know I am not the best judge, but Andy is impartial and he noticed Ovie looking our way as well. Later, I snapped a couple paparazzi-style shots. It was cool to have him almost in our section, but I'd much rather watch him on the ice.


Not the most amazing photo, but I think he's smiling in this one.





And one more for good measure.

Andy says he enjoyed the game. Perhaps we have another hockey convert! Tomorrow, we head into enemy territory for non-hockey-related fun. But check back for my post from Pittsburgh!


Me and Andy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November 6 - Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers (at Florida)

Simultaneously: Whewh, the Caps finally won (4-1)! and Yikes, I hope Green and Schultz feel better in a hurry.

I was not actually watching last night. We have a friend in town and were out to dinner, but I checked the score on the Blackberry repeatedly.

Since I don't have a bunch of intelligent commentary on the game, I think it is time to let my readers know that my dogs are Caps fans.


This is Wiley in his new Capitals T-Shirt. (Thank you Julia!)



And this is Barbie (we didn't name her, I swear.)

They aren't exactly rocking the red, but they do cheer on the team on game days!

We're taking our friend Andy to the game tonight. It will be his first hockey game ever, so I am hoping they put on a good show and, of course, win again.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ovie's Locker, etc.

Love this Washington Post Magazine feature on Ovie's locker. It does raise a question though, what on earth can make a cell phone worth $10,000? I really can't imagine. It doesn't look like it's made of diamonds.

Ovie skated at practice in Florida yesterday, which is encouraging. Apparently, though, he's not ready to play yet.

Hopefully the rest of the team can pull off a win in Florida tonight and at home tomorrow. Let's go Caps!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November 4 - Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils (at NJ)

Yuck.

This game was a major bummer. I am glad it wasn't worse... New Jersey only won by one goal. But what a mess. The penalties by Alexander Semin and Brendan Morrison in the last 8 minutes of the 3rd period were so upsetting. After playing a disciplined and controlled game the entire night, the Caps just gave the win away.

The game was sort of passionless. I found myself nodding off in the second period and I never do that. Hockey keeps me on the edge of my seat, but not last night. Even the announcers were joking about falling asleep.

I sure hope Ovie is back for this weekend's back-to-back games against Florida. Clearly the Caps need his energy.

Perhaps the blessing from His All Holiness Bartholomew I for Ovie's health will work? Here's hoping.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Washington Capitals Day and My Trip to the Jumbotron

With all the commotion over Ovie's injury and the loss to Columbus, I forgot to mention that I was on the jumbotron on Sunday evening!

Neil convinced me to send in my photo of me in Caps gear by Sun Mountain in Santa Fe. The Caps wanted to know how fans rocked the red in the off season. I sent the photo in several weeks ago (with the disclaimer that it was taken in early Fall at the beginning of the season, not actually in the off season) and didn't think anything of it and then suddenly, there I was, much larger than lifesize, on the jumbotron. I am really not one for getting up in front of crowds and being in the spotlight, so of course, I blushed as soon as I saw myself and Neil started hooting and hollering. Yikes.

In spite of the embarrassment, it was cool to be up there on the screen. I am just hoping they don't show the same montage at a bunch more games!

In other news, yesterday was my birthday AND it was declared to be the official Washington Capitals Day by the DC city council. Coincidence or cosmic sign?

Yeah, I know, coincidence.

Tonight the Caps play in New Jersey with Ovie watching from the press box. I have a good feeling about the game. I think they're going to step up and play like winners. Go Caps!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Feel Better Ovie!

Lots of posts on Capitals Insider about Ovechkin's injury today. I will confess that I checked the blog more than a few times during work today. Most recently, the team announced that he is week-to-week not day-to-day. I am not exactly sure what that means, other than that he will for sure miss the game this Wednesday in New Jersey.

I actually have a lot of faith in the rest of the team. I think they can get the job done without him. We have so many talented players and if they step up and start thinking while they play - think last night's third period without the penalties - the team will be in good shape.

But, I still really don't like the fact that Ovie is hurting. I prefer to think of him as indestructible. I know how much pride he takes in his playing and in not missing games and I imagine whatever is ailing him must be pretty bad if it's enough to keep him out of games.

I'll be sending lots of healing thoughts his way this week. Feel better Ovie.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 1 - Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Ovie is hurt. :(

The good things about this overtime loss:
1.) The way the team rallied after Ovechkin left the ice and scored three goals to take the lead.
2.) Two goals from Brooks Laich.
3.) A goal from Quintin Laing who just returned from having H1N1
4.) An awesome penalty kill where Knuble kept it near their goal for almost a minute and the crowd went wild.

The bad things about the overtime loss:
1.) The penalties, one in overtime which cost the Caps the game.
2.) The referees who missed several calls against Columbus and made a few questionable calls on the Capitals.
3.) The scary hit when Jurcina seemed hurt (fortunately he returned later in the game)
4.) Ovie got injured.
5.) Caps lost.

This may have been the most frustrating game this season. But it could also just be the proximity that is making me feel that way. I hope Ovie is better as soon as possible. I also hope he doesn't play injured. It really was great to see the rest of the team pick up the slack and keep us in the game, even if the outcome wasn't ideal.

Neil and I went to the arena early and caught warm ups tonight where I noticed some fascinating fans:


This woman had a whole bunch of yarn on her head.





This group of girls was my favorite. They were wearing t-shirts painted with their favorite players' numbers and they said things like "Katie is Varly's girl" on the back. They each had a strange little black back pack on, sweat bands on their heads, ponytails in their hair, paint on their bodies, black spandex pants with red socks taped up  like hockey players and, inexplicably, they all had black paint below their eyes like football players. Maybe they're new to hockey fandom? It looked like they were having a lot of fun and I hope they weren't too disappointed by the loss.


Here's a look at the whole ensemble from behind so you can see the socks.

Fascinating fans aside, I hope the view from 419 improves this week.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 30 - Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders

Ugh. So, we got a point... that's good, but losing to the Islanders - less good.

It's not as if the Caps weren't playing hard and relatively well. But they just made some sloppy mistakes and missed too many opportunities.


And one thing can be said for the Islanders, they are playing hard. They're really fighting for their lives out there. The Caps seemed to lack the same sense of urgency last night.

They did take 40 shots on goal - which is pretty outstanding. If only a couple more had gone in.

It was Halloween at Verizon Center last night. Complete with some spooky graphics on the big screen. I attempted to capture them with my camera phone with limited success:


There is a jack-o-lantern in the bottom right corner and a witch flying on her broom in the upper left corner.

There were also a number of fans dressed in costumes - and not just little kids. There were a good number of referees, both male and female. The super-fan who has the horn and prompts all the "Let's Go Caps" cheers (I think he is actually known as Horn Guy) had a hockey puck coming out of his forehead, complete with blood. Other than him, I think my favorite was the woman I saw on the way out in a full pink ball gown and a blue jean jacket.




At least Caps fans were having fun, even if we didn't get the win. The Caps have today off and I hope they're all hunkering down and resting. Tomorrow it's time to crush the Blue Jackets.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29 - Washington Capitals vs. Atlanta Thrashers (at Atlanta)

La di da hockey. That's what Coach Bruce Boudreau called it and I agree. The reason the Caps won tonight was Varly.

We had a great first two periods and then the Capitals collapsed in the third period...again. I really hope they get out of this pattern.

In good news, Ovie got two more goals tonight and is leading the league in goals and points. Brooks Laich had three assists. Varly was awesome. Brendan Morrison had a sweet goal and the Capitals won!

It is really nice to see that both of our goaltenders are playing at the top of their games. Many doubters say that goal tending is the team's weak spot and I don't agree. If the Caps can just keep their energy up in the third period and keep motivated when they have the lead, they'll be in good shape.

Can't wait until tomorrow night. I hope the Caps get plenty of rest this evening.

Tweet Tweet

It should come as no surprise that I follow Mike Green on Twitter. I am, after all, a Capitals fan. The embarrassing part of this is that I have my Twitter account set to send me tweets as texts to my phone for only Mike Green and Alexander Ovechkin. That's right, I don't get text tweets from any of my actual friends who I follow on twitter. I get them from two athletes.

Ovie only tweeted a little bit last year during the all star game but if he ever tweets again, I'll be alerted. Mike is becoming a prolific tweeter this fall. I would unsubscribe and save myself the text charges if his tweets weren't so entertaining.

He must be a little bored today while sitting around and waiting for tonight's game against Atlanta because he's sent three tweets already. One was particularly amusing: "You know when you think your getting sick but it's just in your head? Fucking swine flu"

Poor guy! I can imagine the whole team must be a little freaked out by the whole H1N1 situation. I'm not sure the profanity was necessary, but he is only 24.


For those of you who don't follow Mike on Twitter may I present:


Things I Have Learned From Mike Green's Tweets:
1. He watches Oprah (at least occasionally).
2. He has a girlfriend and he may have taken her to see a Cirque de Soliel production.
3. He enjoys naps.
4. He's a music fan. (U2, Michael Jackson, Jay Z, The Tragically Hip and someone named Wale)
5. He is trying to get feedback about his new website.
6. He is a fan of Washington, DC.
7. One day he ate at Source which is very close to my apartment. We didn't run into each other.
8. He purchased new sneakers on September 17th.
9. He's a bit of a hypochondriac.
10. He attends other DC sporting events.
11. He likes the Geico caveman.
12. He calls Atlanta Hotlanta even when it's not very hot out.


In all seriousness, I appreciate it when athletes, musicians and other public figures share a bit of their personal lives/personalities with fans. So Mike, keep tweeting, don't get H1N1 and kick butt tonight in Hotlanta.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Dreaded H1N1

For some time I have been concerned about a flu outbreak among the Capitals. I've even had such non-PC thoughts as, "The Capitals should be at the front of the line for the H1N1 vaccines." I really don't want my hockey team to suffer a flu outbreak. But, it looks like H1N1 has come to the Capitals.

I hope that Quintin Laing gets better quickly and I REALLY hope that nobody else gets it.

October 27 - Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

There are few better feelings than walking out of Verizon Center after the Capitals beat a team from Pennsylvania. Neil and I have a debate about which team we hate more, the Flyers or the Penguins. For me, I think it might be a tie, but the Flyers were the first team I hated as a sports fan and there's something a little special about that.

Last night's game was amazing. It started off as sort of a question mark. The first period was scoreless and the vibe in the arena was muted. I wondered if it was because of the rainy weather or the fact that the game was on a Tuesday. Normally at Flyers games, the Caps fans are amped up and out for victory. The first period, probably because there were no goals and lots of chances for us to be scored on, everyone was nervous. Some raucous Flyers fans started "Let's go Flyers" chants and Caps fans responded appropriately with "Flyers suck", but I was hoping some loud "Let's go Caps" chants would get going. They were few and far between.

Period two started out with disappointment. The Capitals continued to struggle on the power play and not score and the Flyers scored two goals. Now, I am the eternal optimist when it comes to many things in life and the Capitals are no exception. I always know they can come back. I always think they are going to win. I believe in them. But, when they didn't score on a 5 on 3 power play that was more than a minute long, I was feeling discouraged. Then, the magic began to happen. Ovie scored off a sweet pass from Backstrom, then Backstrom scored a convincing goal on the power play and the game was tied again.

The third period goal by Semin was a thing of beauty and made me very happy he's back from his injury/illness. The poor Flyers goalie slumped over in defeat when Semin scored and I had a good feeling about the outcome when I saw that. After gaining the lead, the Caps played hard and Jose Theodore sealed the win. I'm going to say it, Jose is one of my favorite players. I know he has had some spotty performances and isn't always the most popular, but I really can't think of many times when he's let us down terribly. He has real heart, he's fun to watch and last night he was a magician. He made something like 20 saves in the third period alone. AND he stopped a penalty shot. We needed the goals, of course, but Jose is the reason the Capitals won the game.

Of course, by the end of the second period the crowd at Verizon Center was into it and by the third period there was no hint of weeknight exhaustion or rainy day blues -  the arena was loud and you couldn't hear the Flyers fans anymore.  In 419, the cowbells were ringing and Neil and I were jumping up and down by the time Ovie scored the empty netter in the final minutes. 

Last night, the team I love played like the team I love and sent the Flyers home without any points. Awesome.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Flyers Come to Town

Tonight's game against the Flyers promises to be entertaining. Since I loathe Philadelphia (particularly their sports teams), I really hope the Caps can come up with a convincing win.

Ovie has had a tough couple of games. If you go by the Jasper's Rink assessment, it's been almost dire: "The six shots on goal AO was credited with last week were as many or fewer than in any of his previous half-dozen games. Two hits in two games, a fine, and a team 0-for-11 on the power play (including two shorties against) also speak to a rough week for the best player in the world."

Yeesh!

So, in the hopes of boosting his karma, here is my photo with the Great 8! Yes, I paid $20 for this at the Capitals Convention and waited in two long lines. No, it's not the most awesome photo of me ever taken, but it's still one of the coolest things ever. It took the team a while to get it to me. The photo was taken on Sept. 26th and the team emailed it to me in mid-October. Now I am unveiling it to the blog-reading public:



Several things went through my mind while waiting in line and having my photo taken with Ovie.
  • I watched everyone walk up onto the platform and shake his hand and I began to worry intensely about H1N1 and other infectious diseases. This is a common worry of mine. I do not want my Capitals getting sick.
  • I wondered what I could do or say to let him know that I am cooler than your regular fan, that he should, in fact, be friends with me... I simultaneously realized that there was nothing I could say and that I am not actually cooler than other fans. 
  • I watched a woman a few people ahead of me give Ovie a hand-crocheted doll of himself complete with a #8 stitched to the back of the red jersey. I then watched Ovie look at it in a slightly puzzled way and hand it to a team staff member which is when I thought about how glad I was that I didn't do something like that to distinguish myself. That doll must have taken her hours.
  • I saw a girl, probably a teenager but she may have been in her 20's, begin to have a panic attack in line. She was so excited to meet Ovechkin that she was having trouble breathing and eventually began sobbing. This made me feel a little better about my fluttering heart.
  • I was relieved to see that crying girl pulled it together in time for her photo.
  • The marketing professional in me noted the fact that the background was kind of terrible for pictures. It was way too busy and too shiny for the flash. I think the team should hire me, I really do.
 I hope to meet Ovie again someday in a less insane environment. This means I will probably have to turn into a stalker at practice or get lucky and wind up in the same place as him by chance. Hopefully, I'll have a camera when it happens.

Side note: I have done a small amount of shameless promotion of my little blog and it is starting to work. Caps owner Ted Leonsis added The View from 419 to his blogroll under Favorite Sports Blogs! Thanks Ted!

And with that, let's go Caps!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 24 - Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders (at NY)

Places I have checked the score of Capitals games on my cell phone:
- In the theater during a Broadway Play
- During family dinners
- At a party
- In the movie theater

It's Saturday night in DC and the Caps were away, so I made plans to go to a movie. When I made the plans, I wasn't exactly looking at the hockey schedule, so I found myself refreshing the ESPN page on my Blackberry throughout the previews. Then I settled in and watched the movie and when it was over, the Caps had come back, the game was tied 2-2 and the overtime was about to begin!

I just read the game story in the post and it sounds like much of the same. I wonder what it will take for the Caps to begin playing with the intensity that I know they have?

I do like that Keith Aucoin. He may be tiny, but when he's on the ice, he's like a little spark plug and he is always working. Whenever he's called up from Hershey, I really enjoy watching him play and now, he's been directly responsible for two goals in two very close games.

I am glad the team has been winning, but these close wins can't feel quite as good as that win over San Jose did. I hope they pull it together in time to crush Philadelphia on Tuesday, because you all know how I feel about the state of Pennsylvania.

Friday, October 23, 2009

You Know You're Really a Hockey Fan When...

1. Google puts links to hockey gear cleaners above your inbox on Gmail that read: Stinky Hockey Gear?

2. You notice the link, click on it and think, "This might be really useful for my husband's big bag of stinky hockey gear." and then you forward it to him.

3. In the back of your mind you're thinking, "Maybe I should take some lessons now that I know there's a way to keep the hockey gear less stinky."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 22 - Washington Capitals vs. Atlanta Thrashers (at Atlanta)

Tonight's view was from a few blocks away from 419 on my couch. We ordered some pizza and hung out with the dogs in our red gear (yes, I own Capitals pj's). It was a very exciting game, but the Caps completely collapsed in the third in what is becoming a disturbing habit that I hope they break soon.

Matt Bradley scored, which is always fun and Jeff Schultz's goal from in front of our own goal was pretty amazing. He gets a lot of crap from fans and it's nice to see him play well. He also had two assists tonight! It was also really nice to see Eric Fehr playing well after missing the beginning of the season and being out all summer with shoulder surgery. It looks like Atlanta could be a dangerous opponent as the season wears on. I hope the Caps stay on their toes.

This stretch of first no games and now two away games is making me really miss in-person hockey. Next Tuesday night can not come fast enough!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why I Like Sports

I would imagine that people who grew up in sports towns or sports families have trouble even conceptualizing why someone would need to explain their sportsfandom. Growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico was a little different. I can't even count the number of times I've had to justify my sports fandom to friends from my childhood. It makes sense. I am a very unlikely sports fan. In fact, when my fandom began, I was a little bit ashamed to admit it myself.

This past weekend I got a message from an old friend from New Mexico. The subject line read: "Question". The body of the email said: "Why do you like sports?"

At this point in my Capitals fandom, I am enough of a fan that I felt slightly defensive upon reading the message initially, but then I remembered that I grew up in the land of the sportsless and so did my friend and so, I will attempt to explain in a succinct way, why I like sports.

I used to ask my husband why he liked sports when he'd want to tune into a game on TV and all I wanted to do was watch Desperate Housewives. He always told me something about how it's the best entertainment - live drama and you never know how it will turn out. There is some truth to this that I understand now, but at the time I just wanted him to surrender the television.

For me, the love of hockey developed over a period of time, but there were some key elements that combined and provided my entry point into fandom. First I live really close to the arena where the Capitals play and it's very convenient to attend games. Second, the game of hockey was interesting enough to grab my attention. (It's not slow like baseball, not incomprehensible like football, not dull like golf, etc.) Third there were some compelling players on the Capitals team when I moved here in the fall of 2005 - people who I could learn about and care enough about their characters to be invested in following them. Fourth, as time wore on, there were other fans.

In my pre-sports-fan days, I would have wanted to hide if I were trapped in an arena full of screaming fans. But once you begin to comprehend why people are yelling, and (gasp) even feel compelled to yell with them, there is nothing more fun than being in a packed building with 18,000 people dressed in red and screaming their lungs out like mad mad lunatics. As I began to understand all the nuances of the games - the rules, the line changes, when a ref made a bad call, when a goal was particularily amazing - I grew to appreciate the games even more. I knew when to yell. I was compelled to stand up and even to scream. (Did I mention that I used to be embarrassed to cheer in public? For anything? )

For me, being a sports fan has been therapeutic in a way. Cheering for the Capitals got me through some rough times last winter. It is fun to follow a team, to be a fan, to go all-out and wear as much red as humanly possible. Becoming a sports fan has also helped me to better understand the vast majority of Americans who follow one team or another. It has given me an entry point in the great national conversation of sports.

I am a Capitals fan. I'm part of of a red-clad army. It's a special club that anyone can join and we can all get together on game days and scream our heads off in the hopes it will help the Caps win. I know that being a hockey fan will not solve the problems of the world, but it makes my world a little bit happier, a little bit more fun.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 17 - Washington Capitals vs. Nashville Predators

Whewh! This was a close one. The Caps won in a shootout. The plus side, Varly played really well. He let in one soft goal, but he stopped two short-handed breakaways in the first period and he shut Nasahville down in the shoot out! Ovie was on fire again and got the two goals in regulation and one goal in the shootout.

Caps fans were just dying to throw their hats tonight and dozens of them threw them after Ovie's shootout goal. Hmm. It was fantastic that he beat the goalie and helped us win the game, but the goal doesn't count toward his tally (He's scored 9 goals already this season, for those of you who are counting). It didn't give him a legitimate hat trick for the game. Seeing all the hats cast onto the ice made me wonder what the team does with them. Hopefully they donate them to charity. Many people throw brand new Capitals hats onto the ice that they recently paid at least $20 for! They could also have a cheap used hat sale and give the money to charity... but that might present issues with germs and possible head lice or whatever other gross things people have on their heads. Eeew.

I don't think the Caps were playing at the same level as they were against San Jose. Also, Nashville exceeded expetations. All the press leading into today's game said things like, "Capitals take on slumping Predators." Really, the Predators played pretty good hockey.

Section 419 was lively this evening. The cowbell people were in full effect and were even wearing their "Section 419 Has More Cowbell" T-Shirts. They're pretty awesome, but I am happy they sit a few rows ahead of me because the cowbell sound is rather shrill.

Something that I love about our section is that last year, Neil started yelling "Who cares?" after the announcer announces the opposing team's goals and it's caught on in a major way. He picked it up from his youth playing hockey and brought it to Verizon Center. Last year we had a group of people to the front and left of us who caught on, but it's spread significantly and people to the right and even behind us are yelling "Who cares?" It's fun to start traditions and to stick around to see them grow. I'm guessing that people in 419 yell "Who cares?" even at games when we're not there, which was definitely not the case a year ago.

After the game on our walk home, Neil noticed Secret Service vehicles outside of Oyamel and we decided to go in to see who was dining tonight. We got through the wanding and patting down and took our seat at the bar next to some fellow Caps fans just in time to glimpse Michelle Obama as she left the restaurant. Then the bartender asked us if the Caps won, we said yes and he told his co-worker, a young woman around our age who let out a whooping cheer upon learning of the victory. Hooray for living in Washington and getting to see the First Lady around town and running into hockey fans everywhere we go!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Varly Gets The Start

It's another hockey day! Since Varly is getting the start in goal tonight, I thought it would be a good time to debut the T-Shirt that Neil and I designed during last year's playoffs. Drumroll please....




Yes, that llama is wearing ice skates. Every time we wear them around Caps fans, we get lots of laughs and compliments, so we're making them available to anyone who wants to own one. Just click here to go to The View From 419 store on Cafe Press.

In case it's not obvious, the idea for the shirt came last spring when Varly finally corrected the media on the pronunciation of his name. Neil and I remembered how to pronounce it because there is a llama in the middle. Then I designed the shirt. It's almost impossible for a non-Caps fan to figure out what the shirt means, but it makes a good conversation starter. And so far, Caps fans tend to figure the shirt out pretty quickly. Maybe if more of us wear them around the arena, Varly will start to feel a little more confident about his glove hand? (Or, perhaps that will just come with more practice.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 15 - Washington Capitals vs. San Jose Sharks

This was an amazing night with one sad part.

First the bummer: Neil had a hockey game of his own and had to skip the game (which was sad on several levels - especially since it ended with a trip to the hospital - don't worry, he's ok, just a cut up finger - stupid puck).

The upside to Neil missing the game is that I invited my friend Mikah to join me. It was her first Caps game and you never know how someone's first game will go. She could have hated it, but, lucky for both of us, she got into the game fast and had a really good time. And what a great game for her to come to for her first game!

The intensity level was high all night and the Caps played fantastic. Ovie scored two goals in 28 seconds against the only team he hadn't scored on in the NHL. Matt Bradley had a goal (yay). The Sharks couldn't stop taking penalties in the first period which resulted in the longest string of power plays I can remember seeing (A low point in the Caps' performance is that they only scored one power play goal). Our goalies were fantastic. (Hopefully Jose Theodore will be ok after leaving before the second period with an injury). Most importantly, perhaps, is that the Caps beat a really good team and seem to have a bit of their confidence back.

Up in section 419, it was nice to have some girl talk mixed in with my hockey game.

After the game, on our way out of the arena, I saw some really cool dudes in matching all-red suits with red wing-tip shoes, red bowler hats and Capitals lapel pins. First I took a covert photo which captures the entire ensemble:



And then they noticed me. I tried to ask if they come to all the Caps games dressed in awesome red suits, but they seemed a tad too intoxicated to pay attention to my question, or maybe they were sober and couldn't hear me over the hum of the happy crowd? They did agree to pose for a photo, but then one of them moved:



And then (and here's where I think I embarrassed Mikah) one of the red-suited ones suggested I get in a photo. How could I refuse?




Clearly, I need to step up my red to compete with these guys (and perhaps I also need to step up my alcohol consumption?) I must say, I prefer this kind of all-red suit to the one I saw during preseason.

Walking out with the crowd was exhilarating. People were cheering, cars were honking three honks for "Let's Go Caps." The sidewalks were alive with Caps fans in spite of what has been a wet and dreary day in DC. When I got home, I learned from the post game show on Comcast that Ovie had never scored two goals so close together before. It's a great night to be a Caps fan!

Take that Baskman! ;)  (The aforementioned Baskman is an old friend of my father's and a San Jose Sharks season ticket holder)