Long, Strange Trip: The past few months have been a roller coaster for the team and fans alike. As the regular season was winding down and points were becoming ever more precious, the playoff picture was coming into focus for a lot of teams that were not named the Washington Capitals. That sucked. The last month or so was a teeth-grinding, butt-clenching, freaky-outy nightmare. Night after night, we saw our playoff chances dissipate in loss after loss, points squandered, a team in name only, flailing about the ice with no apparent sense of mission or urgency.
Hanging by the skin of our teeth, marginally in control of our destiny, we played do-or-die on Thursday night. Up 3-0, Neuvy went down and Braden came in, two quick Panther goals and stop – we’ve seen this movie before, we know the ending all too well. But this time the ending was different; it was a storybook ending. Who can explain the win – skill, determination, lucky bounces or teamwork? We’ll say Sasha, but it really doesn’t matter. The clock ticked down and Verizon, as well as many homes across Caps Nation, erupted. We’re in. We made it. Somehow we freakin’ made it.
Game 82 seems like a minor distraction when compared to what lies ahead, but we’ll try and make sense of Saturday night and the out weeks – both of which are wrapped around a classless band of vulgarians known as the New York Rangers.
Torts’ Tantrum or Whine Pairings: Say what you will about the on-ice success of Hunter Hockey or the win – loss record of that other guy, Coach Mustard Stains (not to mention all those other Caps coaches we never heard of from the seasons before we jumped on the bandwagon), but thank God, we don’t have to suffer under the daily embarrassments of a certified creep and head case like John Tortorella.
Make up your own mind about the Orpik – Stephan hit (or let Shanahan do it for you), but the infantile postgame display exhibited by Torts on Thursday night, was one for the books. Make up your own mind too, about the comical $20,000 fine that Torts was slapped with. The through-the-looking-glass world of NHL punishment has never made sense to us; it’s all an elaborate sideshow, a limp effort to control the mostly uncontrollable – unbridled rage.
And in all honesty, who among us hasn’t wanted to see some of Dale’s rage surface now and again. Not the eyes-popping, veins-bulging, unhinged lunatic rage of a basket-case freak like Torts, but just a little something to remind us that he has a pulse. Torts is certainly good TV, always a good punch line, and a reasonably successful coach, but we can’t imagine this guy in DC. We’d become Wizards fans if that were the case.
We have our own proprietary scale, based on very complicated algorithms (and some #fancystats), to measure a bench boss’ dickishness, and we call it the Bylsma Scale. For reference, skirt or no skirt, on his best day, Coach Dan “Mr. Personality” Bylsma, registers a measure of exactly 1 Bylsma. When Dan dons his douche hat, he’s at 2 Bylsmas. When he opens his gaping maw (no matter what he says), he tips the scale at 3 Bylsmas. You get the idea. Toolbox Torts buried the needle Thursday night. And for that reason alone, on Saturday, and if we face his thugs in the first round, we want to see Torts go absolutely ape, making his latest outburst seem like a kindly priest’s Easter Sunday homily. Beating the Rangers is always nice, but watching Coach Clown self-destruct on camera again, and bigger the next time, would be icing on the cake. And we like cake.
Will we face the Rags in the first round? We hope so. The 1st and 8th seeds may be reversed from last season, but the hell with that – we have their number. Screw dem bums and their Loony Toons bench boss. Grind those hooligans into the ice tomorrow, boys, and hopefully, when the savaging is complete, there will be nothing left on that filthy MSG sheet except some gold fillings and their pride. Let Saturday night’s throttling be the haunting memory they carry with them into the playoffs.
#ThatAwkwardMomentWhen: So Sasha’s swan dive was not the result of him tripping on a snow snake, but the result of him trying to pound the glass and kick the boards at the same time. It doesn’t matter. Sasha scored the very first goal of the season and in the final minutes Thursday night, he backhanded maybe the single most important one all year. A $6.7 million goal? Nope, priceless.
Now that it’s been categorically proven that Sasha cares, Ovi also seems mostly in gear. That’s good. Beags is a beast, Wides is wicked, Carlzner reunited, Brooks and Chimdog are finding the twine, but there’s still a missing piece or two. We need Nicky and Greenie to start scoring. They’ve both had long trips back from mishap and injury, but this is where they need to prove their mettle. Now MOAR than ever, the young guns need to gun.
Practice Makes Perfect: The last time we went to Kettler for a practice was Saturday, March 24 – the morning after the Jets game. You know the one – that must win March 23 game in which we had a 3 goal lead and we blew it. That trip to KCI on the day after that Capstastrophe was to exorcize demons. Friday morning’s visit was to take a victory lap.
Even though it was a holiday, Kettler was sparsely attended on Good Friday morning. I grabbed some of my typical crappy pics and watched the action. Most noticeable from my end of the ice was Kanoobs. He spent the better part of a half hour taking one-timers, breaking sticks, and pounding the net with single-minded determination. After breaking one twig, he picked up the pieces, opened the rink gate and passed them to a fankid. About ten minutes later, just as he was wrapping up, he passed his intact Easton stick over the glass to a kid, maybe 5 years old, who was sporting a tiny #22 Caps sweater. Too cute for words and a testimonial to what a great guy Mike Knuble is. As it turns out, the kid is pretty well connected – his uncle manages the BrooksLaichYear site.
Braden: This is a joke-free zone. We don’t know the latest on Neuvy, but hope for the best. Not for the simple reason of Caps’ success in the playoffs, but for the long term health and well-being of a guy we absolutely adore. Braden and Dany have the weight of the world on their shoulders now
NBC or Nothing But Clowns: All the playoff games are relegated to air on Planet ComcastNBC, the Skynet of sports TV. We won’t waste any more bandwidth saying what’s already been said about their wretched squad of on-air “talent.” Poor Doc, he’s the diamond in the rough. He stands head and shoulders above recidivist, Mike Milbury, and Pierre McGuire, the Kent Brockman of NHL broadcast. We miss Joe, Craig, Alan and Al already. We’re trying to remember if we sent them invites to RMNB 4.0.
Is Party Now ))))): Last spring’s RMNB 3.0 at the Front Page is where we first got to meet Ian, Peter, Neil and Chris. In fact, not just them, but it was there we first met a larger crew who until then were just twitter nicks. We ate, we drank, we won a door prize – a cool woodcut of Ovi and Varly done by Kat. We won a pair of jerseys in the silent auction too (Brooks and Nicky), but in reality, we came away with much bigger prizes, friendships. Doug and I often say that we wish our civilian friends were as fun as our hockey friends (and it’s mostly true, they’re totes boring gay guys).
We almost didn’t make the overland journey out to Ballston that day, but we’re glad we did. It was that afternoon that two goofy gay gadflies with a rather unorthodox blog began to feel welcomed into the larger Caps community. So tomorrow evening (in addition to our valet parking duties), we’ll toast the team that brought us all together, and we will toast all of you for making us a part of the family. We’re thrilled to be your crazy, gay uncles.
We Never Met A Meme We Didn’t Laich: Who knows what next season will bring, but one certain retirement will be the Meme of the Day. And there’s no better way to put this tired gimmick out to pasture with an image on memegenerator dot net that has previously eluded us. We see this one as divine intervention or some sort of cosmic alignment. Yeah, cosmic alignment – you know, like those cheap literary devices that tie up the loose ends in the story lines of Peter’s comic books graphic novels. This is one called “Typical Hockey Player,” but the hockey player featured is hardly typical. We call him Captain.