Capitals mascot Slapshot delivered the goods again this year, skating the flag onto the ice every home game without ever once tripping (which is more than Dennis Wideman or Alex Semin can say). He defied Capitals tradition by not folding under the pressure, and he did it all while wearing a 20-pound mascot head. What a pro.
What can we say about John Erskine, the forgotten man?
Sometimes bad seasons happen to good people. There, you have learned the meaning of life from hockey. Erskine took a step backwards in terms of development and role on the team, but we are rooting for him, because the Caps just wouldn’t be the same without that gap-toothed grin.
There are some players who didn’t get a chance to make an impact on the ice with the Caps this year, whether through limited opportunity, injury, or otherwise. That isn’t going to stop us from giving them a disproportionate amount of words, though, because we do what we want.
Joel Rechlicz only played three games with the Capitals this year, but he brought his larger-than-life presence with him, got us talking about his wooden sticks and his ambidextrous punching, and about the changing role of the pure enforcer in the NHL. We are a bit disappointed that we never got to see him fight, but it’s good to know that he is there should the need for violence ever arise.
Not all of the people iconic to Caps hockey are the players on the ice. Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin are a part of the experience all year, holding our hands through nail-biting overtime games, hugging us after crushing defeats.
If we were reviewing Dennis Wideman‘s season before the All-Star Break, or even in March, this would be an entirely different story. We’d talk about his almost-hat-trick, his stellar offense, his first All-Star Game. We still talk about all of those things, but there is a lot more yelling — because unfortunately for Dennis Wideman, the playoffs happened.
The search for the mythical Playoffs Performer led George McPhee to get a little carried away bidding for Joel Ward last summer–and like it always does, Ward’s paycheck led to expectations. When the playoffs rolled around, we were all watching intently to see if Joel Ward would evolve into a Charizard or something.
Jeff Schultz has a good, strong German name with lots of consonants, which makes it very satisfying to yell. This is fortunate, since we yelled his name a lot this season. If you yell it angrily enough, it almost feels like swearing, doesn’t it? We appreciate the small blessings.
This season, though, Matt Bradley helped us out by distilling the thousands of questions about Semin into only one: Does Sasha care? We spent the rest of the season trying to find the answer, helped by scientific bar graphs, endearing drawings, and caps-locked hashtags. Yet here we are in what could be the last few days of Semin’s career with the Capitals, and we still don’t have the answer. Does Sasha really care? Perhaps we’ll never know.
This year, Mathieu Perreault did a good deal to shake off the labels of streakiness and inconsistency that have plagued him, scoring at a better clip and sticking with the team all year long. Now, all he needs is a six-inch growth spurt to shut up critics altogether. We think he’s got it in him.
We could write whole essays about Alex Ovechkin‘s season. We could write a three-act play, we could write a bestselling series of novels about our namesame, the Russian Machine, and the ups and downs of his career.
But don’t worry, we didn’t, so don’t be afraid to click past the jump. Mostly it’s a lot of gifs of belly patting, which accomplishes the same effect anyway.