For forty-five minutes yesterday, I wanted my $350 back for my three upper level seats. I wanted to put my parents back on a plane to Washington, and have them come back to Chicago when there was more sunshine and less heartbreak. I was devastated that in the one single game I was going to attend this season, one that was hyped up by fans and media alike, our beloved superstar was kicked out and his team seemed too deflated (or maybe just too “sleepy”?) to respond. I don’t know if it was just as bad on television, but through two periods at the United Center, the Caps’ play was truly painful to watch. As a team they were slow, late to the puck, and made too many lazy/soft plays. They just looked like they didn’t care. Obviously it took only a few penalties and minutes for the boys to completely change the makeup of the game, but I can’t help but wonder why this team couldn’t put together a better effort from the start. Only the last ten minutes and OT looked like the hockey I expected from the get-go against one of the league’s elite.
From where I sat, JP’s recap was spot on, both in terms of individual performances and team play- well done. The team that finished the game could not have looked more different than the team that started, and they have the potential to be scary good. All in all, the crazy comeback left me satisfied with the overall experience, and feeling even more proud to be a Washington fan. If the Caps can play to their potential more consistently, I do believe we are the team to beat. As a Chicago resident, I’m hoping we get another chance against the Blackhawks this year to prove it.
VC > UC
Speaking of Chicago residents, I’d just like to take this opportunity to commend all of you Verizon regulars out there for creating such an amazing atmosphere at home. I was shocked at the lack of energy in the United Center from the opening faceoff. Sure, the National Anthem was fantastic and their goal celebration fun, but those aside, I felt like I was watching a game between the two last-place teams in the league. There was nothing remotely comparable to Horn Guy, Goat, etc, and barely a “Let’s go Hawks” rally. Maybe it is by choice, but there was also very little in-game media to get the fans going. I see Blackhawk gear every time I turn a corner in this city, and I’ve often heard that it is a difficult place to play, but there was very little hostility or energy in that building yesterday. They booed Ovechkin after the push, but that was the end of it. I fully expected that when I walked into UC in my Cap’s #8 jersey I would be greeted with boos, trash talk, looks, anything at all. When #8 himself got kicked out, I was ready for even more. However, not a single Hawks fan at any point in the game so much as looked at me or my parents with anything more than casual indifference. I didn’t see that as good sportsmanship. I know there isn’t a huge rivalry here or anything, but I’ve never been to an away game at any level in any sport where the fans didn’t, at least in the spirit of competition or fun, challenge my presence and allegiance. It just didn’t seem right.
I unfortunately haven’t experienced it myself this season, but last year and from what I can get from TV and radio, Verizon Center is loud. Fans bring their A-game for big games against top teams, and everyone seems to be having a good time when the home team is winning. After yesterday’s experience, I have all the confidence in saying that Washington is very much a hockey town at present, and the fans should be very proud of making it a difficult place for visiting teams to play. Either that or Chicago is not quite the hockey town I believed it to be. Keep Rockin’ the Red!
Quick side anecdote from the game: My Dad, representing the Caps in a new Matt Bradley jersey, found himself behind a fellow jersey-clad Cap’s fan in the concessions line. Seeing the #39 on his back, Dad pointed out that they were playing on the same line today. The man’s response was: “Hey, Bradley is actually my son’s best friend!” Mr. Steckel was in town from Wisconsin to see David play. I asked him where his seats were, a little curious why I would be seeing him on the upper-level concourse, and he told us that Stecks got a bunch of good seats for his friends but left his parents to buy their own Standing Room Only tickets. Must be that unconditional love thing that let him get away with it…
As an end to my first FanPost (I’ve been an avid reader since the blogspot days), I’d like to thank everyone at Japers, contributors and commenters, for creating such a unique place for Caps fans to go. I’ve spent the majority of this season in Asia unable to watch games, so this site has sort of defined my season and allowed me to stay connected to my beloved team when I can’t watch them. I’m not one to comment, since I generally don’t see anything but highlights, but it’s great to feel that you can still be a part of the Capitals’ community from half way around the world. So, thank you, and go Caps!