Find Lots of Great Coverage Here


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Of Pucks and Balls

Interesting that the baseball game and hockey game involving teams from Washington yesterday had almost identical scores. How often do you see that? Unfortunately, those hockey fellers were on the wrong side of the six. You would have thought they'd imported the Nats bullpen to play goal what with all the blown saves.

Disappointing, particularly since it came against the Penguins. Not much love for anything hockey out of the state of Pennsylvania and I can only hope the Bruins (or Canes) flush them quickly. My other worry is how VarLAmov will handle things, sitting on that one all winter. You can't say "brush it off kid" and send him out two days later. He can stew for several months. I think, and hope, he's made of the right stuff and can deal with it. The kid was pretty impressive for a long stretch.

I used to be pretty big into hockey, not quite as sick as I am with the Nats but not far off. When my son was much, much younger, we'd make weekend trips a couple times a season. We'd try to catch a Friday night and Sunday afternoon game. We went one time and I had no idea it was jersey day. They handed out replica Dale Hunter jersies and the kid had his on by the time we got to our seats. He wore it pretty much every day and always referred to himself as Dale. He'd holler "I scored" whenever Hunter managed to score. We'd watch every game on the old Home Team Sports. I used to call in between periods and talk to David Poile. We had fun with it.

Why did it stop? Well, the veterans on here will remember this. I can't recall the specific year or opponent. But Hunter laid a vicious and very cheap shot on someone after a goal, I believe in the playoffs. An Islander, I think. My jaw dropped. My son was pretty upset, too. He asked me many times, "Why did he do that?" I had no answer. Fighting and rough play are part of the culture of the sport. I'm OK with that. I'm not OK with cheap shots. I think Hunter got 25 games off for the hit. We stopped watching, stopped going.

That we're back as fans doesn't mean we're total bandwagon jumpers. Flash forward to the 2004 season. I was at the paper, covering Virginia Tech. The Hokies had a noon game against Georgetown and the Caps played the Flyers that night. VT spring break had just started. So the kids and their buds went to the noon basketball game. They tooled around Georgetown while I wrote. We gathered back at MCI Center (remember that?) for the hockey game. Cost me four bills for six tickets. The Caps were brutal then but they beat the Flyers 2-1 and the goal came very late. I so wanted Kolzig to get the shutout. Everyone thought it would be his last game, since it was the final game before the trade deadline. He got one hell of an ovation. A fun night.

I haven't been to a game live since but we've kept up with things. We love Ovie and Boudreau and we're optimistic about the future even given last night's disappointing meltdown. I suspect the Caps will win a Cup before our favorite baseball team makes the playoffs.

After the fifth Pens' goal last night, my son flipped the remote over to me and said, "Put on American Idol or something, it can't be as painful to watch." He also noted that perhaps we should go back to not caring again, as it will make our lives less painful.

Eh, I think not. Pain is part of the equation when you're a fan. Nats fans know that all too well.


El Rey said...

In my heart of hearts, I knew the Capitals would lose last night to the Penguins. However, I didn't expect them to be humiliated on their own ice. It was a debacle. After the Roman Legions suffered yet another humiliating defeat to Spartacus's slave army, the Roman Praetor Marcus Crassus ordered every tenth Legionnaire decimated - put to death - for cowardice. The Legions would never again lose to Spartacus, who with his army would ultimately be crushed. The 6,000 survivors of this slave army were crucified on the Appian Way, their bodies left to rot to send a message about rebelling against Rome. This is how you motivate. The Washington Capitals need to be flown to the Appian Way and taught this colorful piece of history so they can be properly inspired next season.

Victor said...

What's frightening about some of the Nats scores is that they look like low-scoring football scores.