Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Day After...

In AOII-Land, whenever we had to discuss something objectively, we used a simple Pro/Con format. This can, of course, go on for a while, but the rule is that you have to end on a "Pro." I'd simply become a little too emotional without this strict format, so here we go...

Pro: The Capitals became the first team in NHL history to make the playoffs after being ranked 14th or lower in the standings at the season's midpoint. A small feat by no means!

Con: We were matched up with the Flyers for the 1st round of the playoffs. Aside from Uncle Don, nobody in the family follows regular season hockey like we do... so I knew that the "Go Flyers" posts were merely having fun and playing devils advocate, but it still stung.

Pro: DC fans have finally opened their eyes to see that they have a top notch team in their backyard! I was a bit worried that there would be hints of resentment from "full season fans," especially as this new craze made getting tickets more difficult, but old embraced the new to create a sea of red in Verizon center! I can only imagine how happy Ted is, knowing that the team he's been fighting to put together has finally come to fruition and are finally getting some recognition from the city, the league, and hockey lovers across the world. It's truly been a "warm fuzzy" place to be, these past few months, as everyone has an undeniable crush on the Caps.

Con: Ticket prices are going to be insane... I'd take Caps season tickets over any other team in the world, but the mortgage has to be paid and companies don't accept "I need to have Caps Season Tickets" as a valid reason for a $12k raise (yes, I need to be able to afford 2 seats... you need someone to remind you to breathe during power plays).

Pro: Coach Bruce Bourdreau... proof that Hershey is the sweetest place on earth! When you first see Gabby, he doesn't strike you as a hard core coach. He has the kind, grandfatherly, and calm air about him. And then you watch the game, wait for the inevitable bad call by the refs, and watch the grandfatherly image disintegrate as you can clearly read his lips and understand the profanity spewing out. Not to say that the guy doesn't have class, it's quite the opposite, but he knows when a call is bad and will stand behind his team. The warm fuzzies come back when you hear the locker room stories and press quotes... this guy is the true story. He loves his job, loves his team, and seems to have the right words for every situation. I'll gladly let the fans be the "8th" player on the ice, giving Gabby the "7th" spot.

Con: We had to wait until November 07 to get Coach Bourdreau behind the bench in Verizon Center.

Pro: Ted Leonsis. He really should be the 1st "pro" on my list, but this isn't in any particular order. I always think of team owners as "suits" who sit up in the owners box, drinking top shelf stuff, and schmoozing clients. Ted may do this, but he does so much more! First, he's a man of the people. I have his blog, Ted's Take, on my google reader and love his honest commentary on everything. He listens to his fans' suggestions and takes them to heart. He unknowingly has brightened some very dreary days in our house by replying to all of his emails. He's been behind his team in thick and thin, not just financially, but in every way he can be. Without our dedicated owner rocking his red jersey, the picture wouldn't be complete.

Con: The Refs. I usually don't get too riled up with officiating mistakes. They have a big job to do and are usually pretty good at doing it. My only request is for pure consistency. It drives me crazy that hockey coaches don't have a red flag to throw down a challenge on a call... I can only imagine how this would hold refs more accountable in reviewing plays. Waiting to see if Toronto caught something on their video feed can be sheer agony... especially on nights like last night. Nobody wants to win or lose on account of refs, it just leaves you with a lot of "what ifs" and "Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda's." That may be why last night felt like such a punch in the gut.

Pro: The Pro's... I love them all equally, but here's some commentary on the guys who kept it going...
~Ovechkin: Love. You can tell that Ovie loves hockey more than anything else in life. Everyone's heard the stories: At the age of two, in a Soviet toy store, Alexander grabbed a toy stick and helmet and refused to let go... As a small child, whenever he saw a hockey game on TV, he "threw all his toys" and ran to the TV... He "protested strongly" if his parents tried to change the channel.
When he first started playing for the Caps, Joe immediately loved him for chugging Cokes on the bench in between plays on the ice. We all know my love for all things Russian, so clearly it wasn't hard for me to love him at first sight on the ice. It's been fun to watch him woo fans across the world with his pure talent. Yes, I know that fans of opposing teams can't love him like we do, but you can't deny the guy's pure talent.
He loves to win. I get all emotional (yes, you can laugh, but Joe can attest to my silly sports emotions) when I see him on the ice... by the time you realized that he scored the goal, he's already leaping in the air and slamming into the plexiglass. You can see his energy and passion with his fist pumps and little motorcycle moves. The actions that set him apart are those when he's reacting to a goal made by a teammate. He's always bolting towards the guy, give a celebratory body slam, and usually knocks them onto the ice... which ends in a pile of Caps on the ice, honoring each other's accomplisments. He doesn't need to be the center of attention, not an ounce of diva in him, just pure love for winning hockey games.
He's the real thing... and luckily, he's the real thing in our town.
~Semin: Well, helloooo Sasha! He's by Ovie's side in every game... the second half of this killer tag team. He and Ovie have more points than any other duo in the league. Until the playoffs, you'd rarely see him hitting guys, but rather effortlessly gliding and waiting for the kill. He's a dominant player on the ice - he has an acute sense of awareness and is always good for a solid pass or setting up a goal. A rougher and tougher Semin has emerged in this playoff series and I'm glad he's here. He plays his heart out for us and it shows on the scoreboard.
~Backstrom: This guy is simply the best thing to come out of Sweden since Ikea and their delicious meatballs. If only the Calder looked at overall points and team contribution (as opposed to goals), he'd surely be clutching it. We're going to overlook the fact that he's 5 years younger than me and has more talent than I could dream of... this rookie is where its at. His playoff goals were clutch... Game 6's passing back and forth with Semin to end up with a goal made me want to start quacking as it was truly a made for hollywood play. Welcome to the big show... we're glad to have you here!
~Laich: I first really noticed him during a "Caps Crib" episode that they taped at Green's place... he was busting on Green and just had a really fun air about him. When he gets on that ice, you know he's going to be in the middle of the action. Brooksie is a real asset to the team.
~Green: Rock the Hawk! Instead of rocking a playoff beard, Green decided to go with a playoff mohawk... which caught on and became Elliot in the Morning's "Rock the Hawk" promotion. While I didn't exactly shave my head, Tommy and Joe did... and I don't think Joe's hawk is going anywhere! Green started game 1 with two pucks in the net! He's not even a forward, he's a defenseman!
~Brashear: Thank you Philly, we're ever so glad that we were able to take him from you! Brash is, quite possibly, one of the scariest guys on the ice. If he didn't smile so much off the ice and have such a compelling story (and a blog!, I'd be terrified to meet him! He's trained with Joe Frazier, bringing a solid punch to his solid game on the ice! He usually spends more time in the penalty box than celebrating goals, but he definitely added a point to the scorboard in game 1.
~Federov: Snatching him up at the end of the season was one of McPhee's smartest moves. He's truly one of the greats and brings much needed experience to the team. There's been a lot of talk from the locker rooms about how much of an asset he's proven to be- calming guys down and mentoring his fellow countrymen. His performance on the ice has been amazing - one of the few Caps with playoff experience, he really held it together. I can only hope that he likes DC as much as we love him... and shows it by signing on with the team next year.
~Huet: Hip-Hip-Huet! Thank you France... mostly for my job, but right now for our goalie! I can't even begin to imagine how much pressure is on the goalie during any game, let alone the playoffs. Huet joined the team late in the season and didn't look back... he's made some unbelieveable saves and plays. I now understand why goalies tend to get MVP status for the playoffs... he's just been great!
...and to the rest of the team... I'm all out of witty commentary, but know that I love you all the same. Hockey is truly a team sport and every player plays such a key role in it. And, unfortunately, I've saved a fave for last...

Con: Olie. If you've read Joe's blog (, you saw Olaf Kolzig on his list of all-time favorite players. Kolzilla celebrated his 300th win with the Caps during the regular season, and we were so lucky to be there to honor him. It drives us crazy that a goalie can't be team captain, but if they could, it would surely be Olie.
Before the playoffs started, Joe and I talked about ice time for Olie... Huet is clearly hot right now, but it definitely hurt a little not to see Olie in front of the net. He's a true class act and epitomizes what a true Washington Capital is. He's landed in my last "Con" spot for one (heartbreaking) reason, explained by Washington Posts' Tarik El-Bashir:

Goaltender Olie Kolzig removed his nameplate from his locker here at Verizon Center after tonight's 3-2 overtime loss to Philly. Kolzig declined to speak to reporters, but that gesture seems to say it all about his future with the organization.

The season-ending loss last night felt like a punch in the gut, but this loss will leave a scar that pains me more than words can describe.

And finally, a pro, you must always end on a pro...

Pro: Our Cardiac Caps. Today we're a little somber, but only with the knowledge that it's only 5 months until we hit the ice again. This season has been one for the books and it couldn't have come at a better time... in the years ahead I will selfishly worry for my husbands hair loss and heart attack risk, but will love every minute of it! My transition from a Philly Child to a DC Adult has been completed this season... I never have, and never will, love a team as much as our Caps. I'll smile every day as I walk by the Verizon Center, knowing that I'm an itty bitty part of such a great thing! This is only the beginning and we can only go up from here! Until next time,

"C-A-P-S... Caps! Caps! Caps!"


Cheryl Leigh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
laurel said... I'll comment. Boop...not for nothing but you do have a bit o' hockey in your blood! After all, you are lucky you weren't "Pierre Boom-air" While we are not ardent Flyers fans like you and Joe are Caps fans, we still would bleed orange and black.

Congrats on a great Caps season!

Let's Go Flyers...