Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Caps Win Game 7: Story and Pictures

Capitals 2, Rangers 1
Capitals win best of seven series, 4 games to 3

Amazing atmosphere at Verizon Center last night. I got there early to capture what I could with my camera. I was sitting center ice, section 400 and the entire night it was loud and red was everywhere!

The Caps battled back from a 3 games to 1 series deficit to force the deciding game. They were 1-5 all time in game seven's and 1-4 all time at home. When the Rangers took a 1-0 lead I was thinking could this happen to the Caps again? Back to back home game seven losses in the opening round of the playoffs?

Late in the third period, the crowd was as intense as any crowd I've seen in the 42 Capitals playoff games I've attended in my life as a fan of this team. The building was shaking and it was hard to take pictures. It's as if we were a stick of dynamite, lit and just waiting to go off.

Finally Caps fans got the chance to explode as the Caps veteran leader Sergei Fedorov skated across the blue line and launched the shot for the go ahead goal with 4:59 left! It reminded me of Fedorov in his prime for the Red Wings. He sensed the urgency of the situation and came through.

2-1 Caps! It was loud!

Still there was work to be done though. The clock was ticking ever so slowly, the Rangers were fighting for the equalizer but the Caps stymied them. I kept thinking when will the Rangers score? Whose skate will the puck bounce off of and into the net. Following this team in the post season for as long as I have, I've seen it happen just too many times.

Not last night.

When the clock struck :00 there was elation and joy among everyone. Folks high fived, hugged, screamed, threw hats in the air and just savored the moment. Below was my favorite picture in the Washington Post this morning.

Next up are the Pittsburgh Penguins. It will be a big challenge for the Caps, who have won just one playoff series out of six all time vs Pittsburgh. That was in the past. As last night proved to me, one can't dwell on that anymore.

My voice is still sore. I don't care. The Caps are still playing. I expect many more sore throats. Let's go Capitals!!!

Finally, here are my shots of the evening (Click to enlarge). I wish I got shots of the goals but everyone was up and the arena was shaking so it was tough. Enjoy!

One of the many signs mocking Rangers Coach John Tortorella

Channel 9 Sports Brett Haber reports before the game.

Caps Owner Ted Leonsis with his game face on.
Easily the coolest owner in sports.

Unfortunately I didn't hear the words
"Bill, come on in the suite and catch the game here"

Alex Ovechkin with the ice spray during warm ups.

My unsung hero of the series, Defenseman John Erskine.

Opening face-off. Game on!

Game action

Sergei Fedorov breaks a 1-1 tie late in the game!

Longest five minutes ever as the Caps defend.

So close, the place was loud and hopping!

Caps win!!!!

Celebration! First game 7 victory in 21 years!

Dejection. Not much else to say.
Fantastic effort by the Rangers.

Greatest tradition in sports.
The end of series handshake.

Varlamov and Lundqvist meet.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Caps: On To Game 7!

Capitals 5, Rangers 3

Series tied.

Tuesday's ticket says Section 400, Row L.

My throat is rested.

Let's Go Caps!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Caps: Stayin' Alive in Game Five!

Cue up the classic Bee Gee's tune from Saturday Night Fever as the Caps are stayin' alive in the playoffs thanks to a dominating 4-0 win over the Rangers last night at Verizon Center.

I guess the great line from The Godfather that I heard Silvio from the Soprano's use in an episode fits..."Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in."

I went to the game with low expectations. I was crushed the Caps lost game four to fall behind in the series 3 games to 1. I had a bad feeling the series would end tonight.

Matt Bradley scores two goals in the first period and Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin each added a goal as the Capitals cut the Rangers lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series to 3 games to 2. Game 6 set for Sunday at Madison Square Garden at 2:00 PM.

Simeon Varlamov was a rock in goal again for the Caps, stopping 20 shots and getting his second shutout in four playoff games. His goals against average is .760 and his save percentage is .969 (95 of 98 shots stopped). Before the playoffs, Varlamov had played in five NHL games.

Great night but there is still a lot of work to be done for the Caps. Meanwhile, enjoy the pictures from Section 405, Row E (For a larger view be sure to click the picture).

Sergei Federov in warm ups.

Mike Green

Simeon Varlamov, playoff hero.

Game starts. Let's go Caps!

Hard hitting game as Mike Green gets drilled.

Another faceoff.

Matt Bradley celebrates his goal!

Rangers putting pressure on Varlamov.

Alex Ovechkin gets off a shot.
Would have been better if I got the puck in there.

Caps score off this faceoff.
Alexander Semin at the top of the circle gets the goal.

Celebration! 3-0 Caps!

Here is the fourth goal by Alex Ovechkin:

First he beat Chris Drury, then he guided the puck through Derek Morris's
skates, kicked the puck to his stick and had Henrik Lundqvist in his sights...

He gets the shot off and as he is being flattened by #34 Voros
of the Rangers. See the puck going in the net.


Here is the video here:

Caps Owner Ted Leonsis is happy. More cowbell!

Game over! Caps celebrate!

Three Stars:
3. Simeon Varlamov
2. Alex Ovechkin
1. Matt Bradley

Post article

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Caps Frustrations Hit A New Low

If you said to me before this first round playoff series against the 7th seeded Rangers that the 2nd seeded Caps would have given up seven goals after four games, I'd have been busy trying to buy tickets to round two to talk to you.

Well, the numbers don't lie. The Caps have outscored the Rangers 8-7 and outshot them 149-99.

Not so fast on round two tickets though. The New York Rangers, not the Washington Capitals are up 3 games to 1 in the series.

I really thought I have seen it all following the Caps and their mis-adventures at playoff time. From 3 games to 1 series leads blown to multiple overtime losses, this team has lost every possible way in April.

Tonight Alex Ovechkin hits a post late in the game that would have tied the score at 2-2. The Caps also had a late power play and as the game came down to the last minute, they pulled their goalie for the extra skater to try to get the tying goal. Lot's of pressure on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist but no goal.

So the Caps come home Friday night for game five trying to avoid elimination. I'll be there.

Why? I don't even know how to answer that. My heart just gets ripped out by this team year after year and I keep coming back for more. I estimate over the years I've maybe lost ten years of my life following this team in April.

But this Caps fan, who sat through 8-67-5 in 1974-75 as a thirteen year old kid, has a long way to go to catch the Chicago Cubs and their fan base. The Cubs haven't been to the World Series since 1945 and they last won one in 1908. Maybe that's why I keep going back. If those folks can keep coming out, I can too.

Down 3 games to 1, the Caps have come back once in their history (1988 vs Philadelphia). The 4th win is the hardest to get. All you have to do is ask members of the 1987, 1992 and 1995 Capitals about that. Each team blew a 3 games to 1 advantage.

Don't Stop Believin' as the song says.

Post Article

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mini Soccer

It was a beautiful Saturday for the start of Benjamin's Mini Soccer program. During their hour they did basic soccer drills and learned about the field and the basics of the game. Here are some pics from his first session. Benjamin really enjoyed himself and what impressed me most was how focused he was on what his coach was saying to the group. I think he learned that from the soccer program he participated in at his day care last Fall.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Baseball Thoughts

I was home sick yesterday and was watching the Nationals home opener on TV when I learned that both Harry Kalas and Mark "The Bird" Fidrych had died.

Fidrych came on the scene in 1976 as a guy who made minimum salary, cleaned up the pitching mound with his hands and would talk to the baseball. He resembled Big Bird from Sesame Street. He beat the Yankees on June 28, 1976. We all saw it on Monday Night Baseball, which was a big deal then as the only national games we'd get on TV were Saturday's NBC Game of the Week and Monday Night Baseball. Fidrych started the All Star game in July 1976 but got shelled and laughed about it as he was like a kid out there on the mound. He finished the season 19-9 and had 24 complete games for a bad Tigers team. Injuries cut his career short, first a knee injury, then his shoulder. He pitched parts of four more seasons in the majors but was never the same and retired for good in 1981.

Kalas was the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies and he also was the narrator for NFL Films. I adopted the Phillies as my favorite National League team as occasionally my Dad would bring me along on his business trips and we would go to games at the Vet. I used to pick up games on my Panasonic Tech 1000 radio and I’d follow the Phils and other teams. No ESPN, internet, baseball package and mass media we have today.

My fondest memory of Harry Kalas at work was back when I was at Elon College (North Carolina) during the Fall of 1980. My buddies went out carousing on a Saturday night and I didn’t want to miss the Phils key divisional battle with the Expos. No TV then, so for me, my Saturday night was an empty dorm room, a six pack of Bud, the Panasonic and Harry’s call of the game. I got to hear Harry's call of Mike Schmidt's homer that gave the Phillies the NL East title. Great moment, something I won’t forget.

While reminiscing about baseball yesterday I came up with some great baseball nicknames that we'd hear or read about while growing up in the '70's. There are many more but off the top of my head I came up with:

Pops (Willie Stargell)
Candyman (John Candelaria)
Lefty (Steve Carlton)
The Bird (Mark Fidrych)
Cakes (Jim Palmer)
Mr. October (Reggie Jackson)
The Mad Hungarian (Al Hrabowsky)
The Goose (Rich Gossage)
Louisiana Lightning (Ron Guidry)
Charlie Hustle (Pete Rose)
Sarge (Gary Matthews)
The Human Vacuum Cleaner (Brooks Robinson)
The Capital Punisher or Hondo (Frank Howard)

Now you hardly hear nicknames anymore. Everything is now abbreviated ARod, JRo, ManRam, Tex....

I’ve decided that I want to take a couple nights a week this Summer and just listen to baseball on the radio. No TV, just me, the radio and perhaps a book, just like it was when I was a kid. Back when all I cared about was where the Orioles were in the standings. I've got XM and access to all the games. I developed my appreciation for baseball listening to games on the radio and and hearing my Grandfather talk about baseball when he was a boy back in the ‘20’s. While it is great that in my basement I have access to a lot of televised baseball, the simple pleasure of a ball game on the radio cannot be beat.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Boston University: NCAA Hockey Champions

Washington DC hosted the NCAA Frozen Four at Verizon Center. When this was announced over a year ago I entered into the NCAA's lottery thinking it would be cool to experience a national championship here. In August I received a letter from the NCAA stating I was to receive two tickets. They arrived in March and the championship game was last night. And what a championship game it was.

Boston University trailed 3-1 to Miami (Ohio) with three minutes left in the game. The Terriers pulled their goalie for an extra attacker and amazingly scored two goals to tie the score. The first came with a minute left in the game. The second came with just seventeen seconds left.

In the overtime, BU had the momentum and Colby Cohen gave BU the title with 8:13 left. Cohen's slap shot went off sliding Miami defenseman Kevin Roeder’s leg and over goalie Cody Reichard’s shoulder and into the upper-right corner to give the Terriers their fifth NCAA hockey championship.

For Miami, they came so close to winning their first ever national championship in any sport. It will have to come another time as sadly one school had to lose this game.

The Post recap and pictures from the game. As usual, for a larger version of the shot, click on the photo. For the record my friend Jeff and I were in Section 431, Row O, Seats 7-8.

Boston University Owns the Ice

The U.S. Navy hosted the Frozen Four. Thank you!

Face off to start the game.

Boston University on the attack.

Miami attacking.

Not a bad pic from high up.

Miami takes a 2-1 lead with seven minutes left in regulation.

The game winner. Thrill of victory and agony of defeat captured here.

Post game hand shakes. Best tradition ever in sports.

ESPN interviewing the champions.

The champions skate with the trophy.