Not sure if I have really made it known anywhere other than on Twitter occasionally, but I am a huge Washington Capitals fan. Right around the 2010 season, I became interested in hockey due to the success my local team was having. In hindsight, I think it was really in response to my dad si
nce he is a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. They had just won the 2009 Stanley Cup, and he went on and on about how great the team and sport was, so I guess I wanted to see what his excitement was about. I know for a fact that he can’t understand how I became a Caps fan following my investigation, but they are my hometown team full of amazing players! Ovi, Backstrom, Holtby, Oshie, Carlson, Johansson, Kuzi; I could go on, but I might just name the whole roster! Sorry, not sorry, Dad.
Anywho, I began to follow their progress and learned as much about the game as I could from my Dad, boyfriend (now husband), and online research. Hockey is a different game than anything I have ever watched. The energy and stamina these players have is amazing! Not to mention their ability to skate as fast and as skilled as they do. It’s an exhilarating sport, non-stop and full of action! I enjoy baseball, but it is very laid back and slow paced. Football can be entertaining, but there are so many pauses between plays that I find it too annoying to enjoy. Soccer, I don’t even waste my time, and basketball has too many squeaky shoes for this misophoniac. To sum it up, hockey became my game of choice.
Six players broken up as two defensemen, three offensive players, and one goalie, out on the ice during regular play representing one team against an opposing teams six players. Before the puck even drops, the players fall into formation at center ice, bearing down on their sticks in anticipation of a favoring face off. The moment the puck leaves the ref’s hand and the players dig for it to begin play is electrifying. Everyone holds their breath to see which team comes out of the dog pile with the biscuit. As the game continues, the players circle in and out of each other, creating plays at dizzying speeds as the tiny black puck skips across the ice between two player’s sticks. How these players know exactly where one another are on the ice at any given moment still baffles me due to their constant movement.
As the periods tick away, the physicality will ramp up as each team attempts to wear the other out. Bodies fly across the ice and slam into an opposing team member against board and glass. Words are exchanged when some hits seem to rough, but that is the beauty of the game. If you don’t like the hit, drop glove! If the players are boiling over with aggression such as that between long ago seeded rivalries, it is completely legal for them to settle it over flying fists as long as they are willing to pay the penalty, and pay the must. If a team draws a penalty, one or more members will have to sit in the penalty box for a determined amount of time based on the infraction thus being a man down during play until the time is paid.
Obvious goal of the game is to put the puck in the net, but a little less obvious is to beat the goalie. When all else fails within the composition of the team as in the defensive players can’t seem to keep the looming offense at bay, the goalie is the last saving grace posted between the metal bars and desired net. If the team can’t seem to keep the opposing one out of their zone, it is the goalies duty to keep the puck out of the net. He can be the make or break of the team.
Just a little of the basics that I learned about the sport that I now love! My knowledge runs so much deeper now between the point system and what the refs are calling on the ice that I do truly consider myself a fan of the sport, but let me tell you what I didn’t learn from hearsay or the internet.
The first live game I went to was the Caps vs Pens with my now hubby during that 2010 season at the Verizon Center in D.C., and I knew I was hooked. The energy in that arena is nothing like anything I have ever experienced before in my life. A completely enclosed structure made of concrete, and I swear you could feel the place rumble beneath your feet. As plays are made and the puck is thrown at the net, the people in the stands are like a cresting and crashing wave of emotions, full of OH’s and AH’s, but when the puck crosses the opposing teams line to signal a goal, that place erupts! No volcano compares to the explosion of sheer elation the entire arena holds when the lights flash and the horn blows for a good goal. You literally could lose some of your hearing some nights if the Caps are scoring multiple times throughout the game.
This past Thursday, hubby, a family friend, my dad, and I all went to the latest Caps and Pens game, and let me tell you it was horrific. First and second period, Pens are up three to zero. You can imagine how explicitly happy my father was. As the third period began and continued to dwindle down, the Caps scored 3 goals quickly, tying the game and pushing it to overtime. The Captain of the Pens scored the winning goal in overtime, ending the game 4-3, and let me just say the ride home was less than enjoyable.
The Caps played horribly that night until mid-third period, but it was too late for them to bring it home. Tonight, I watched their away game against the St. Louis Blues, and they actually looked pretty good, so I can’t help but wondering what the heck happened at the Pens game. The Caps have clenched their playoff spot, the President’s trophy, annihilated multiple franchise records as well as breaking or tying multiple league records, so I understand not wanting to overplay themselves and risk the possibility of getting hurt, but you still have a job to do. We, the fans, are coming to see them play, to support them even though the game might not mean anything for their season’s record, so they should always come to work, ready to put on a good show for their fans. Tonight, they did that, even though they weren’t on home ice, so I’m a little disappointed that they didn’t do that on Thursday.
Regardless of their performance during my first game in two seasons, this team is one of beauty this year. They have proven they are cohesive and capable of putting points on the board, and they have never looked better (other than Thursday night and a few games before that)! They have one more game tomorrow night against their old coach who is now on the Ducks to finish out the regular season, and then it is off to the playoffs where they will face the Flyers in the first round. I am hoping to go to a playoff game to report again on the energy I am sure will be double, if not triple that I have experienced during a regular season game, but we will see!
All this to say: C-A-P-S CAPS CAPS CAPS!