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1/15/11-Is There Really Something Wrong with the Washington Capitals and Let’s Play “Who “GOATS” Better” at the 1/16/11 CAPS-SENS Game?

January 15, 2011


The question being asked by many who follow the NHL, are fans of the DC professional players who skate for the cup, the media and many, many others is “what’s wrong with the Washington Capitals?” If only the answer were simple. I doubt that it is one single answer. In fact, I doubt that a tangible answer to that question can be determined with crystal clarity and imparted to the general public via all the media available to those who may be asking the question.

My take is also complicated and therefore, no words here or VidBlog edition can cover that answer with any great justice to the complexity. Given my propensity to explore many levels at once, then find the common connection that binds those levels to each other, hence establishing a “working” big picture – I doubt most people even want to follow my logic anyway. Having stated that however, the one and only contribution I will add to the mix of opinions about the RED-clad, battle-worn, DC men of ice hockey is almost too uncomplicated for most seeking some explanation.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE WASHINGTON CAPITALS. There are so many factors involved with the NHL play involved with each and every second of every game, that if one truly wants to know why the numbers, the loses, the unproductive results attributed to the star/core players is “wrong”, one is essentially asking for a quantitative, repeatable, equation that gives a definitive numerical response. I don’t know how many of you are aware of some of the equations that, oh let’s say a theoretical physicist may use to get some concrete understanding of the natural universe, but my best guess is that those stumped about what’s “wrong” with one of the best hockey teams in the NHL probably would prefer not to be aware of the intricacies of either.

Here’s what’s right as far as I can tell:

1) The PK has been nothing short of fantastic

2) Varly has become far, far more efficient and patient in defending his net than ever before and that has translated well given recent on-ice saves and performance

3) More people than ever before in the history of the franchise are interested, engaged and discussing Washington Capitals hockey

4) Bruce Boudreau is a tireless lover and advocate of the sport. He does not give a you-know-what if HBO shot him with BBQ sauce on his face. No coach in the NHL lives and breathes the game with as much heart and passion. He does not give-up.

5) Some of the best hockey ever played by any team assembled under the name of “Washington Capitals” has been played by the team you see this season. The Winter Classic game was played with a great team spirit. There are several 3rd period showings that scream excellence to those who have forgotten already. Those periods may not have won the CAPS the games in which they were played, but they are proof positive that all things are possible. They are recorded for future learning and positive reinforcement.

I could continue with a “what’s right with the Washington Capitals” list, but for the sake of brevity, I will move onto my next relative thought. The odd, collective group that is known as the “RED ROCKIN’ FANS of DC professional hockey.”

When our team is struggling during a game at home, the person I hear from out of the thousands of fans blanketing the “Phone Booth” while watching the games is Goat. “Let’s Go CAPS, Let’s Go CAPS,” comes through as clear as can be when the majority of those who came in support are sitting quietly. While it is true that Goat was blessed with a set of lungs that rival us all, what can it hurt for more “Goat-like” fans to be heard in the stands when the guys through which we vicariously play ice hockey need an assist from the “7th Man”? Okay ladies, don’t get upset – it’s a traditional term and if my loud mouth can spark-up even one player in RED while at a game , personally, anyone can call me a “man”, a “donkey”, a “Range Rover”, or whatever else if so chosen. Granted, we women should be integrated into the ice hockey culture at this point and there’s no denying that any more, so “7th Player” is the more precise terminology.

It is difficult to keep cheering on a team that has challenges to overcome when the human emotion that drives us all as fans is all too real. It is a never-ending set of circumstances that produce the frustration and anger we experience as those who cannot play the game or play any type of direct role in what is happening on the ice before us. I am no saint of fandom, I can assure you. Since the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in DC on December 23, 2010, I have barely shut my word-hole while watching a game. I am just as invested in what’s going on in the minds of the players we all feel should be playing at a different level as anyone. I  have used more foul language in the last month of CAPS games, then I have for almost every full season since 1980, to be sure.

There is nothing necessarily “wrong”, as much as there is something not working right. The fans can help. I promise to do my part, however very small and possibly insignificant, tomorrow from section 425 (THANKS to Peter A. for that opportunity). I will “Goat” when play seems stale. I will “Goat” more if the team gets behind. I will “Goat” through the not-so-good, until I can “Goat” no more. Of course, there is only one true “Goat”, but in honor of his years of “Goating”, I will at least try.

It’ll be a great day for me to see so many familiar fan faces, in person, at a game tomorrow. I miss that experience, but will keep working and never give up the mission to be a season ticket holder again. I hope I die at a Washington Capitals game. Of course, I also hope everyone else just thinks I’m taking a nap and no one goes home actually aware that they sat next to a stiff! (levity is good, so laugh about this – if you curl your lips upward – it will get funnier – I promise). 🙂

Speaking of which – here’s a very silly thought – maybe Brooks Laich should stealthily sneak behind Nicky at random times during practice or between game periods and just give him a good old tickle attack. Yup, random tickle therapy may be in order for #19 especially. Seems ridiculous right? But if you have a good imagination and you know what the players look like and wear, picture it actually happening. Come on, admit it – if nothing else, it might just give the team something different to think about as a momentary distraction from the hard work and frustration mounting ever more slightly as the season marches forward.

When I have seen Backstrom in video and during game play, I have felt the overwhelming need to say “Lighten up Francis,”  right out loud. Too much serious externalization tends to build until it peaks, then its usefulness becomes counter productive. Maybe I’m typing out of my “wazoo” (as my dad used to say – but for those not clear – it means rear-end), but again in honor of something great (that’s be the movie “Stripes”) – “Lighten Up Nicky!”

Go CAPS – I’ll be seeing you all tomorrow, so bring your best “Goat” impression and let’s watch the DC Reds get tickled by a 2-point win against the “other” nation’s hockey capital. Efficient movement to all and props to all defenders of the blue paint – peace – mia –


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