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Rockin’ the Red, Wearin’ the Worry

Just when you thought they were out…they pulled you back in.

The Washington Capitals have pulled off the improbable and forced a game seven against the Pittsbugh Penguins.

I understand that not all fans are alike, and maybe I’m the only one feeling this, but here is what I’m feeling the day after an exciting Caps win, on the road, in overtime.

Take that, ya lousy zebras!

I have no problem with the refs “lettin’ the boys play” and keeping their whistles in their pockets. This generally means the refs are going to ignore the minor little happen-stance infractions and only call the most deliberate of fouls. That only seemed to be the case for one team last night.

Sure the Caps had the occasional non-call go their way, but it certainly seemed like the refs would suddenly decide to crack down on the penalties when it was most advantageous to the Penguins.

The Caps won in spite of the refs last night who;

a)      Gave the Pens a two-man advantage early in the game on some ticky-tack penalties.

b)      Gave the Pens a power-play for most of the remaining two minutes of the game.

c)       Gave the Pens an extra 1.5 seconds on a face off draw in the Caps zone at the end of regulation.

I truly believe that the reason the Caps won last night (apart from Brooks Laich and David Steckel teaming up for the deflection goal) was that the Pens were waiting for their gratuitous power-play courtesy of the refs.

Nothing is over until we decide it is….

Excited, nervous, worried, thrilled, and all of this just to explain away the nausea I was feeling during OT. I may have been sitting pensively on the edge of my seat, watching the puck dart around the screen of my television like a half-interested cat following a laser-pointer with only it’s eyes, but my stomach was practicing for the Olympic gymnastics team.

One goal; that’s the difference between living to fight another day and a conciliatory speech about how great the season was.

Who didn’t feel like Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber after that overtime goal?

“So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”

So we got ’em, now what do we do with ’em?

Watching all those Penguins fans, screaming their hearts out, and cheering like they’d won the lottery, I swear some of them looked like they were crying tears of joy as overtime started. You could barely hear the whistles! Those fans were ready to celebrate their team winning the series on their home ice. I am sure many bottles of champagne were ordered and some were even opened.

After the Steckel goal; you could hear a pin drop. No boos, no nothing, just dead stoic silence. Suddenly the arena had turned into a crowded conference room of hushed tones and minor mumblings. You could hear the Caps celebrating on the ice, it was great!


Now it’s their back against the wall too. They are coming to DC. One more game and afterwards someone is going to have to console their fans about how the team played real hard, and had a great run, but everything must come to an end. Someone has to win, and inevitably, someone has to lose.

I would much rather see Bile-in-the-mouth (or however you say Pittsburgh’s coach’s name) have to explain that to his fans than Boudreau having to say it to us.

I don’t want to see what happened in Mellon happen at Verizon. I also don’t want to see classless fans throw garbage out on the ice if we lose. Let’s focus on winning, and if we must lose, lose with class and dignity, not like a bunch of cry-babies who have to express their displeasure like primates flinging feces.

Never say never

I won’t lie to you; the Caps history with the Penguins in game seven of any playoff series is not good. I won’t horrify you with the stats, but will point out that this has been a remarkable year for the Caps. They have shattered records, some as old as 25 years. The Caps have to put that playoff history behind them. They have to come out and play like there was no yesterday, otherwise there will be no tomorrow.

They need to play hard, aggressive, mistake-free hockey for 60+ minutes. Don’t worry about this being the final game. Don’t worry about what you are going to do next win or lose, worry about the Penguins. As my wife likes to say “just win baby!”

Win and everything else will take care of itself.


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Hating the Penguins

The Pittsburgh Pengiuns.

There’s a team that should get the bile duct of most Caps fans going.

Even though Pittsburgh isn’t a division rival, I can think of no team in the NHL that I hate more than the Pittsburgh Penguins.

They are my Dallas Cowboys of Hockey.

I hated going to games at Verizon Center whenever the Penguins came to town.

Sure the games would be close to sell out capacity, but that’s because it would be packed with Penguins fans. If the Caps scored, the crowd at home ice would boo them!

The now familiar chant of “Let’s go Caps” would be replaced with “Let’s go Pens!”

Pens?! Seriously?! You cheer for office equipment?

Could you imagine seeing this on Wheel of Fortune:


“Pat, I think I’d like to buy a vowel.”

Pittsburgh currently has Sidney Crosby. I hate Sidney Crosby. Not because I think he’s better than say, I dunno, Alex Ovechkin, but because he is more popular (well, in anyplace other than DC).

Sidney Crosby complained to the media this year that he thought Ovechkin was “targeting” him. He implied that he thought Ovechkin was trying to hurt him and taking “cheap shots.” He complained that the refs weren’t calling any penalties on Ovechkin and, get this, giving him special treatment because he’s a “star player.”

How can anyone seriously cheer for this cry-baby?

Okay, let me break this down simply. Ovechkin is not a “finesse” player; well, not totally. He is not afraid of contact. He relishes it. He expects to get hit when he has the puck, and he gives as good as he gets.

Ovechkin wants the puck. If nothing else, he doesn’t want the other team to have it. If you have the puck, and Alex is nearby…he will hit you; hard. If you don’t want to get hit, then maybe you picked the wrong sport. Hockey is a contact sport, maybe those delicate hands are more suited to wield a golf club as opposed to a hockey stick (see: Happy Gilmore). At least that way you won’t have to worry about someone knocking you off the tee (unless you invite Ovie to play…then who knows).

The sad part is that Canadians, who pride themselves on the gritty game of hockey with the hard hits, the fighting, the blood on the ice; side with Crosby.

It makes me sick to see these guys like Don Cherry (in his multi-colored crushed velvet suits) talk about what a great player Crosby is, and in the same breath describe Ovechkin as a “mindless goon.” Crosby is the next Wayne Gretzky while Ovechkin is more the ilk of Sean Avery (at least in Cherry’s opinion).

Cherry made his attacks more personal this year when he blathered on about how much he hates Alex’s goal-scoring celebrations. He compared Ovechkin’s exuberance with that of international Soccer players. He even had the nerve to use (you guessed it) Crosby as a contrast of what a hockey player “should be.”

The way Cherry made it sound, the rest of the league hangs their head in a dignified, almost apologetic manner whenever they score a goal. Kind of a “hey man, I know I just scored on you. Terribly sorry about that y’know, but my coach said I had to do it otherwise we might just lose this game.”

Everyone celebrates when they score. Yes, even your beloved Crosby jumps up and throws his hands in the air after a goal.

Ovechkin loves the game. He loves playing it, he loves being the best at it, and if anything his huge celebrations are a further example of how humble he is. What kind of arrogant jerk would he look like if he simply skated away from a goal like it was ‘no big deal.’ It would be the same as saying “yeah, I score all the time. I was going to score against you anyway, and now I have. Let’s not make any big thing out of it, a’ight.”

That may be the Don Cherry way, but considering he dresses more like he should be taming tigers in Vegas like his brothers Siegfried and Roy, and less like an analyst covering a professional sport, he doesn’t really have a lot of room to be criticizing anyone else’s “flamboyance.”

We are done with the whining. We already got plenty of that from New York. “Your fans spit on us and called us dirty names. Your guy bit us, I’m gonna tell. ”

Pittsburgh is going to think they have home ice throughout the playoffs, because that’s what they’ve been used to. They are gonna expect Verizon Center to be filled with their roaming bands of Gypsy fans, but when they get in there and see a sea of 18,000 people all wearing red…they’ll know they aren’t at home, and they certainly aren’t welcome.

Puck drops at 1pm Pittsburgh; bring your A-Game.

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