Beyond the players, coaching staff and members of the organization, there’s no one more knowledgeable about the Washington Capitals than a season-ticket holder. You know, those lovely people who fill the phone booth to capacity every night in a sea of red jerseys. So when we wanted to get a fan’s perspective of how the Capitals and the in-game crew were performing during the playoffs, we knew exactly who we had to turn to: Caps Superfans William “Goat” Stilwell and Sam “The Horn Guy” Wolk.

Wednesday night, after the Capitals thrilling 2-1 overtime victory, I caught up with the two lovely gentlemen and asked them their thoughts on game one, the star performers, and game two tonight. Hopefully, this will be a recurring feature throughout the Capitals’ second season. Make sure to be nice and welcome them to RMNB in the comments below!


The Electric Atmosphere at Verizon Center

The Caps’ 2011 Playoff Intro via Twitter follower @r3volve. Give him a break he was holding a beer!

For a hockey fan, there’s rarely anything more exciting than your home team’s first game of the playoffs. As I can attest to, the crowd at the Verizon Center was electric Wednesday night. “Overall, everybody was ready to rock,” Goat said. “You could feel that. As soon as the lights went out, everybody was jacked. After the opening video started, everybody started to bounce a little bit.” Frankly, it was hard not to. The Capitals video crew came up with an epic video presentation which included quotes from other media and opposing players – such as Martin Brodeur – describing how tough it is to play at Verizon Center. As each quote went up, the building got progressively louder. When I asked Sam if there were any comparables, he said that, “the first period was as loud as I probably heard it there since Sergei Fedorov scored that series-winning goal against the Rangers in 2009.” Wow. That’s deafening. Andrew Gordon, who was watching the game from home in Hershey, summed it up best:

I can hear the goat yelling from my living room….and my tv is on mute.less than a minute ago via txt Favorite Retweet Reply


Alex Semin’s Strong Play

Who replaced Sasha Minor with this media-friendly alien from outer space? (Photo: Bruce Bennett)

Alex Semin had an assist and scored the overtime game-winning goal in game one. Pretty awesome, right? And if you can believe it, his two points Wednesday matched his entire output from last year’s seven-game series against the Canadiens (two assists). “I thought overall he had a good game,” Sam told me. “I was surprised. He landed some shoulder hits. He fought for the puck in the corners a little bit more than I’m accustomed to seeing. It was nice, because that’s not the kind of game you expect from Alexander Semin. If he can bring that the rest of series, I’ll be happy.” William elaborated on Sasha’s feistiness: “He gets a mean streak in the playoffs it seems. And when somebody takes a liberty here or there, he tends to get a little cranky. And that usually elevates his game.” What Semin isn’t cranky about suddenly is interviews. Over the past few days, you can’t turn your head without seeing an Alex Semin quote. Has our enigmatic left wing started to mature? Maybe. Semin still had an offensive-zone stick penalty in the first period. Though Goat believed that “he was a victim of circumstance. It was a little more of a hold. It was a… combined effort [with the Ranger player].”


Lil’ Mikey Neuvirth

Michal Neuvirth leads the Capitals out on to the ice. (Photo: Bruce Bennett)

You would have never been able to tell that Michal Neuvirth was making his NHL playoff debut in the crease. “All night, he was there when he needed to be,” Sam explained. Goat elaborated: “There were times this evening that I was sure it was over. There was the one shot in overtime where it was just a free and clear blast from about 12 feet away and he came up with that thing right in his gut. He had his glove hand working tonight, too. You know the one he snatched out of the air in the third period, he just reached out for it and said, ‘no.’ That was the thing that energized people.” With his solid, 24-save performance in game one, talk about the Czech splitting time with the Capitals 1b option in net, Semyon Varlamov, has stopped… for now. Neuvy’s performance was even so sublime that his name and likeness was literally everywhere during the NHL Network’s playoff coverage Thursday.


Alex Ovechkin’s Goal

The Senior Director of NHL Hockey Operations, Damian Echevarietta, explains why Ovi’s goal was allowed.

Really, we don’t have much to add here except one thing. Goat’s initial thoughts on the play were, “Aw, we’re going to get hosed on this.” Well said. Props to the NHL for actually getting the call right.


Looking Ahead to Game 2

Ovechkin and Backstrom celebrate the win. (Photo: Clyde Caplan, clydeorama.com)

The last thing I asked the two gentlemen before we departed was if they were looking forward to game two. “Now I definitely am,” Goat instantly replied. “We have the momentum now going into Friday,” Horn Guy added. “We have another home game. It’s going to be a raucous crowd.” William picked up the conversation from there: “And just the way this one ended. With that sweet setup to a wide-open Semin. To score a skill and power goal. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were tear-marks on Lundqvist’s equipment [from trying to make the save]. Joking aside, that dude did not deserve to be serenaded at any point tonight.” And Goat’s right. The Capitals missed the net or rung the puck off the post on a lot of golden opportunities. And when they didn’t, the King was equal to the task. It’s important to understand that the Capitals will have another tough test tonight. Can they arise to the occasion and take a commanding 2-0 series lead? We’ll see at 7:30pm.

  • TheHornGuy

    Thanks for making me sound smarter than I know I was the other night. It’s all about the editing. Exhaustion had set in, so my ability to form whole sentences and complete thoughts had been severely compromised. Weeknights are tough! And besides, Goat has a gift for being charming and vociferous under even the most trying circumstances, so thanks go out to him for taking up my slack. Again. Heh!

  • SentientCheese

    I was in 428 for game 1, and pretty much the entire section, and the sections around us pretty much were silent for the sing-song.

    Also.. I feel like instead of responding with rangers suck… we should keep it classy and cheer our own team.. I dunno, maybe its just me. theres more of us.. and a constant lets go caps pretty much wins.

  • http://youtube.com/luvdcaps LuvdCaps

    Ahem, my intro video was so much better. RMNB is awesome!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian

    @LuvdCaps – I saw it and agree, but your videos aren’t embeddable! So I couldn’t put it on the site.

    Here’s a link if you guys are interested in seeing her version.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIJmZz_h098

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian

    @TheHornGuy – I barely edited anything you guys said. :) You guys are brilliant (minus your one “babies” comment, Sam. haha). Honestly, I really appreciate your perspective and the contribution to our site. I look forward to seeing how this evolves over time!

  • @Caps1426

    Sam and Goat, from watching it on TV the other night you two both did an outstanding job of keeping the fans into the game. When it got quiet one of you stepped it up and brought them back. And on a side note. . .

    See you guys tonight! In section 433 ROCKIN’ THE RED!

  • CapsFan

    Totally agree with Goat that Lundquist did not deserve to be serenaded at all. This has to come from the bandwagoneers (the people the STHs sell their tickets to) because real fans have to admire King Henrik (while of course plighting their troth to Neuvy).

  • Brendan

    @Sentient- There are various definitions of what a true fan is, but it comes down to what the atmosphere drives you to do. In section 407, I started a “Rangers Suck” to pave over top of the Rangers fan’s that were saying “Lets Go Rangersss” since the Verizon Center is our house, and they are merely step-cousins twice removed who have no say in the matter. I’ve been to other venues (shout-out to the Road Crew) and that is the time and place to be a classy Caps fan since you are a step-cousin twice removed in their arena.

    Regardless, enjoy the game and don’t worry about the bowl, just worry about what’s in it.

    LETS GOOOOO CAPPPPPPSSSS

  • http://youtube.com/luvdcaps LuvdCaps

    Ian, all you had to do was ask and I’d change my YT settings for ya! TY for the reply. Go Caps!

  • http://capslove.wordpress.com Dazey2

    Why on earth would Andrew Gordon have his TV on mute???!

  • Devin Shannon

    Goat, Sam, RMNB, y’all rock! Go Caps!

    Sincerely,

    Devin Shannon
    A.K.A. “William’s Dad”

  • Cami

    Horn Guy and Goat, you guys should contribute to RMNB more often! :)

  • potomom

    I never go to verizon without earplugs anymore. After game 7 with the Rangers in 2009, I spent months with hearing experts trying to regain full hearing in my left ear. It took nearly 8 months but the game was worth it. People with young babies should be careful. GREAT NIGHT LET”S DO IT AGAIN