Guest post from my good friend Ben Harper:
The view from 419? Pretty awesome, if you ask me.
I hadn't been to a Caps game in more than a year, so I was happy to fill in for Neil and Jodi when they couldn't go. Former roommate Nate took the second ticket--and got the chance to go to his first Caps game ever. And against the Devils? Always makes me think of this Seinfeld episode.(Side note: how long has Martin Brodeur been playing? Check out the Devils jersey Puddy is wearing in that episode!)
Anyway, the last time I'd seen the Caps in person, they were a young struggling team just trying to make the playoffs and the Verizon Center was probably 60% full. This time, the Red Sea was in full force, even on a Monday night. I was really impressed with how attentive and into the game the fans were. Every solid (or missed) check and crisp (or sloppy) pass was cheered or booed. And the entertainment surrounding the game (scoreboard stuff, the music, promotions in the stands) were just the right mix of cheesy and funny. The Mighty Mite kids' hockey games in between periods were hilarious and a stroke of genius. All of it together made for a much better time than I've ever had at a Wizards game, where I feel like I'm constantly
bombarded with noise (and lasers!) Of course, sitting in 419, you're bombarded by cowbells, but at least that shows fan spirit. Or something.
The night would have been complete if only the Caps had managed to win. The two first period goals seemed so easy that there wasn't a chance that the Devils were going to leave the Verizon Center with a point in the standings. But for the entire second and third period, they seemed out of step and lethargic--only Jose Theodore and some ridiculous saves kept them from losing in regulation. The 90-seconds the Devils kept the puck in the Washington zone before scoring the tying goal just before the end of the third period was rock bottom. Theodore made three highlight saves back to back to back and each time the Caps couldn't clear it before finally the Devils got in the tying goal. I thought there wasn't a chance that the Caps would pull it out in overtime, but they seemed to flip the switch back on and came out hard--at least two near misses at winning the game in overtime and everything was looking good--even the incredible overtime penalty kill (with even more highlight reel saves by Mr. Theodore) made it seem like they'd get one puck to go their way. But it wasn't to be--and a very anti-climactic shoot-out later, we were hitting the Metro with the rest of the fans. Still, a ton of fun and hopefully not the last time I get to see the Caps this season--I've got to break my
one-game losing streak!