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.


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.


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)


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.