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4/11 Capitals Fall to Bruins in Shootout, Not a Banner Day for the Goalie types and the Tragic Car Crash that Almost Was

April 11, 2010

4/11/10

I am just back from the Washington Capitals last home game of the season against the Bruins. I made the ticket swap before the game, giving my Row B, Section 109 seat to a great fan, Karen, who has season tickets up top in Row Q, Section 430. Both she and her friend, Jeanne, got to see the view from Row B, because they switched off between periods. I had a great time sitting up on high with the two of them. There are some advantages to sitting with your back to the wall. First, I am a “leaner”, but I didn’t have to keep myself in check, because there was no one behind me to worry about. Second, it s much easier to see the plays develop from up there. I am thinking of changing my tradition to getting a seat up there, against the wall for each CAPS season closer. I also met several other fans Rockin’ the RED and it was a good time for all.

As for the netminders, Boston’s Tim Thomas and Washington’s Semyon Varlamov; I will start with Thomas. He and I both had a moment or two of  “overractionary” behavior today. My bad judgement came after I sat on the metro behind a very grumpy older CAPS fan on the way to the Verizon Center. Nothing was right in his world and he complained the entire ride. Here are some of the things he said, very loudly (meaning, I couldn’t NOT hear it), “The Capitals are just going to crap out in the playoffs again and we’ll be the idiots who bought of a bunch of red garbage for nothing,” and “Look at all those dumb kids going to the game. They probably think they invented the game.” He also called the wife of the man he was sitting next to and conversing with “a lazy, fat, cow,” after his seatmate claimed that she his wife was not feeling well enough to come to the game. That guy was a real peach. Then as we were all herding like excited, red, cattle up to the Verizon Center, the guy looks over at me, sees that I am wearing my CAPS Kolzig jersey (like I always do) and says, “Hey sweetheart – you do know that that piece of s#%t Kolzig isn’t on the team anymore don’t ya?”

I know the right thing to do was to just ignore him and keep walking, but before I could stop my mouth from uttering words, I quickly retorted, “Yes I do Sugarlips and did you know that the hairs growing out of your ears and nose are longer than the hairs on your head.” I took the low road. That is very, very rare of me to do in terms of dealing with complete strangers. But, I had had my fill of his bad attitude on the metro and I was just not able to ignore the fact that he called Olie Kolzig a piece of S. His friends were wide-eyed in surprise and he really didn’t like that, so he told me I had a smart mouth and then called me something not all “family” friendly. I realized I was engaging in stupidity and we were both wearing CAPS jerseys, so I rapidly moved away and with my back turned said, “Go CAPS”. Totally my bad.

Now Tim Thomas had his moment in the first period when Jason Chimera invaded the Bruins crease and made contact with Thomas. Yes, I am a CAPS fan, but I think I can see why Thomas immediately started swatting and punching at Chimera. He probably felt that Chimera continued his push to the net, even after the puck was not in his possession. Obviously, Thomas got a little too fired-up over something not worth all that, but it seemed to have given Thomas a good basis for doing very well against the CAPS. I think both Tim Thomas and I could have behaved a little more “sportsman-like” today.

I was worried that Varlamov would not be ready for a shootout against Boston. A shootout involving Thomas and Varlamov does give Boston the advantage. Varly made some tremendous saves during the game and was very solid for his experience and age, so I’m not being negative – just realistic. It would have to be the Washington shooters who made the difference in the shootout. Here’s something I would not have seen as clearly, or maybe not at all, if I had been sitting in Row B of Section 109 instead of where I was in Section 430 – right after the first shot went behind Varlamov, I said “he came out too far”, then when Boston got their shot again, I saw Varly go too far out and was yelling “he’s too far out!  You’re too far out.” The first shot that went in should have been a tip-off to Varly not to venture that far out. Still, he did a good job during the game and it was a fairly even game during regular play.

Now, the Capitals will have to move into playoff mode and get ready for the challenges ahead. The fans have gotten some great hockey this year and the organization and players are receiving great praise, awards and accolades – all well deserved. GO ON WITH YOUR BAD SELVES!! The Cup would be awesome, so eyes on the prize guys.

This next part of my post is my public service message to any person who may read this post. I was driving to DC this morning, and around 9:00 a.m., I almost hurt someone’s children. I was on a road behind a white minivan. We had been on this road for a stretch and both of us were going about 55 mph (10 miles over the speed limit). I looked down at my radio to push the CD button and as my eyes were moving back to the road, I heard screeching tires and by the time I was completely looking forward again, the white minivan had come to an abrupt, tire-squeeling dead, stop in the road. I always maintain the 2-second follow-behind rule, because I’ve been in car accidents before and one involved a fatality, so I appreciate and respect safe driving. Had I been any closer, this post would not have made it to this blog. After today – I am changing my standard to the 3-second, follow-behind rule.

As soon as I saw what was in front of me, time slowed down to barely a crawl. What happened in the next few seconds, seemed to take minutes. There was no panic – just serene calm. Everything was clear and in focus. As I was putting pressure on the brake pedal, I could see that there were childrens’ arms and legs flying around in the rear of the minivan and I instantly knew that the kids were not buckled into safety belts. They had been tossed around due to the sudden, unexpected stop of the minivan. As my butt lifted out of the seat, because I was standing on the brake pedal at that point, this thought was on my mind – “They aren’t belted-in.” I can’t be sure, but I think that was about the same time I realized, “this is going to happen and this is going to be ugly.” At about 5 feet to impact, something made me put my butt back down in my seat and let my foot off of the brake pedal. That may seem counter intuitive, but I also began to understand that I could not steer my car as far right as I would need to avoid hitting the minivan, because the friction and pull of my now squeeling tires was pulling me into a left slide. I can’t say I was actually thinking at that point in time, but I saw the kids and my only option was to make as sharp a right as I could and drive myself into a ditch or a tree. In my world, that is far more preferable than slamming into the back of a minivan containing children with no safety belts.

I moved closer – 4 feet, 3 feet, 2 feet and as I got to about 1 foot, there was only one single thought on my mind. It wasn’t the CAPS game, it wasn’t “Oh S#%t!”, it wasn’t “this is going to hurt,” or “at least I’ll die wearing my Kolzig jersey,” and not even “at least I’m wearing clean underwear.” It was “Oh no, I’m going to hurt little kids.” Just as I had gotten my steering wheel as far right as it would turn and within 3 inches of impact; the minivan peeled wheels and took a left. Between the left turn of the minivan and my movement right – I missed that minivan by 3 inches – if that. As I caught up with the fact that I did not make impact and then began to correct my course as quickly as I put myself on a path into a ditch, I saw two very distinct things out of the corner of my eye. The first was that the driver of the minivan had finally put the left-hand turn signal on, half-way through the actual turn and the second was the two kids, who had righted themselves from their initial toss, were both standing on the seat facing backwards – staring right at me. I will never forget what those two kids look like for the rest of my life.

As I slid through gravel on the side of the road and turfed some grass in efforts to get back on the road again and while the pungent odor of my burning rubber tires still hung heavy in my vehicle, the very next thought in my head was very selfish. Although the crisis had been averted; all I could think was that if I had plowed into the back of the minivan; the best case scenario for me would have been if the crash killed me flat-out. If I had smashed into that vehicle and hurt those children, or worse, and lived through it, I would never, ever be able to live with myself. Nothing or no one would have been able to console me – ever.

The reason I put this incident here in vivid detail is because I feel obligated to state the following loud and clear: 1) For the love of all that is true and good in this world, PLEASE make sure your children are buckled into the proper safety harnesses each and every time you drive them in your vehicle and 2) If you are in unfamiliar territory and you aren’t sure when your turn is coming up or you have spaced out and you are about to miss your turn – just keep driving and find a place up the road to turn around – DO NOT slam on your breaks and come to a dead stop without warning and with no turn signal. I already feel old and tired – now my ankle is sore from standing on the brake pedal and I’ll probably wake up tomorrow with many new white hairs. Thank the heavens the children are okay.

Rock On CAPS!!!! – please drive carefully everyone – peace – mia (sciencegirl99@excite.com)

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