That game last night had the feel of a tilt between Eastern conference finalists, didn’t it? Three games now between these teams, nos. 1 and 2 in the East, and excepting a single empty net goal they’ve been one-goal affairs. The Bs surely missed Phil Kessel last night (his breakthrough season, joined by Zach Parise’s stud season, is bolstering the outlook of the Americans for Vancouver in 2010). You could see the Caps’ coaching staff trying to circumvent the Bruins’ clogged neutral zone with 80- and 100-foot stretch passes. It’s just that none really connected. It was a terrific tactical showdown.
Another reason this game had a playoff feel was the caliber of goaltending. This game had great goaltending at both ends. Poor JoeB, calling the game on Versus, likely ran through his week’s allotment of throat lozenges keeping up with the acrobatics between the pipes last night. But . . . in a tightly contested postseason series as a Caps-Bruins one likely would be, there’d be an All Star netminder between their pipes and JT between ours.
You know what could get me thinking that the Caps and their on-again, off-again netminder just might prevail in such a series? If Captain Chris Clark could regain his form of the first two post-lockout seasons. Man do I miss that game of his.
Last night’s game was exhibit 12 or 15 this season of how appealing non-Southeast games are to the Capitals’ players and fans. This really has become a season-defining issue for me — the imperative to get our hockey team in a division alignment it deserves. There can be no greater indictment of our present configuration than to acknowledge how seldom we notice when we don’t play inter-division games, and how exciting and meaningful games like last night’s are in their place . . .
Question: Can you be a hockey town, or even aspire to be one, if you can’t handle an inch of snowfall?
Schoolchildren in Montgomery County, Maryland, where I live, lost a day of schooling due to the extreme wintry conditions yesterday. This included side streets that weren’t snow-covered and were wholly navigable by roller bladers — to say nothing of two- or three-ton autos. I understand that Montgomery County is quite large, and that there is variance in weather severity among its northern communities relative to those closer to the District. Still, this present hand-wringing over the first flake to fall — and of course, it’s region-wide — it wasn’t ever thus, and as a native Washingtonian and would-be hockey town resident, it embarrasses me.
Can’t we be different from Floridians in this respect?
Once upon a time I was a child of Montgomery County. This was when winters here were relatively consistently cold and annually produced some significant snowfalls. We could get 4-5 inches of snowfall overnight and it’d be even money if my sister and I had the day off from school that day. Occasionally she and I would even take to tossing shovels of snow from our front lawn onto our street to assist with the county’s early morning decision-making on road conditions. Today kids can toss a tray of ice cubes into their street and get the region shut down.
At least Metro can be counted on to run efficiently in such conditions.
What about our winter fortitude changed, and when did it happen? We need to reclaim the heartiness we once had — especially if we want to call ourselves a hockey town. Let’s make an insurrectionist movement of it, and wear red Courage Caps caps to school and work on days like yesterday . . .
There was significant progress made last weekend on the Hockey Town initiative. The FBI and the Secret Service skated a fundraising hockey game out at Kettler on Saturday to benefit the family of FBI Special Agent Sam Hicks, who last year was killed in the line of duty while assigned to the Pittsburgh Field Office. Kettler staff estimated attendance at the game Saturday at 1,700 — with some staff judging it to be the second-largest crowd there ever. The FBI pulled off a rare victory over the skilled Secret Service squad, 5-4 in overtime, and most importantly, the game raised $9,000 for the Hicks family. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of skating in these law enforcement fundraising games before, and they are always special, moving occasions.
I have contact information for anyone who’d like to help out with this particular cause. Drop me an email.