The Brouwer Rangers Reveal Their Spandex Suits

Brouwer Power sign

[Editor’s note: When Mike Knuble was let go by the Capitals over the offseason, Knuble’s Knights were temporarily without a player to worship. After some careful thought, they re-formed as a fan club dedicated to power forward Troy Brouwer and dubbed themselves the Brouwer Rangers. Nathan Burchfiel, the group’s fearless leader, is now here to reveal the group’s new spandex’d uniform and signs for the Caps home opener. The floor is all yours, Nathan.]

After the Caps lost their season opener to the Tampa Bay Lighting on Saturday, many Caps fans were weeping and gnashing their teeth about this Schultz or that Ovechkin. We, on the other hand, were busy experiencing something of an existential crisis.

As we struggled to squeeze into lycra suits and freshly painted motorcycle helmets during our first and only Brouwer Rangers “dress rehearsal,” the existential question wasn’t, Who are we and what are we doing with our lives? It was more, How are we going to pull this off without being arrested for indecent exposure?

As you may know, for the past three years, we’ve attended Caps games decked in plastic armor, shields and swords, and armed with an array mildly controversial but mostly silly signs in support of fan-favorite Mike Knuble. With Knuble’s departure – and at his encouragement – we knew we had to continue the tradition with a new victim muse player to cheer for.

There’s plenty floating around about why we picked Brouwer (and why we do this at all in the first place) so we won’t rehash it here. With the lockout still fresh in our minds, who really wants to dwell in the past anyway? Instead, the fine folks at RMNB asked us to provide a preview of what’s in store for the Brouwer Rangers during this shortened season. Our existential crisis has become, Can this possibly live up to the antics and adventures of Knuble’s Knights?

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Knuble’s Knights Are Now The Brouwer Rangers

[Editor’s note: After the Washington Capitals extended Troy Brouwer’s contract for another three years on Wednesday, Nathan Burchfiel, fearless leader of Knuble Knight’s, had his own announcement to make. The floor is all yours, Nathan.]

When the 2011-2012 NHL season ended, the questions about the future were only just beginning. The zeitgeist was buzzing about whether there would even be a 2012-2013 season, but moreso about what would become of Knuble’s Knights, that magnificent armor-clad duo who won the hearts of many a Caps fan with their often strange and occasionally ill-advised antics in support of their one true liege. Could the Knights continue on with their fearless leader in limbo? Would they carry their swords into battle for another worthy team member? Would they fade into the masses of normal Caps fans? Would they finally get upgraded to full season tickets? (YES!)

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Goodbye, Mike Knuble, from Knuble’s Knights

Photo credit: Paul Bereswill

[Editor’s note: We asked Nathan and Ryan of Knuble’s Knights to bid a fond farewell to Mike Knuble as he departs the Washington Capitals. Here’s what they gave us.]

Sir Michael of the House Knuble, First of Your Name, Man of 1000 Games, Crasher of Nets, Breacher of Creases, Abuser of Goalies and Grandpa of Slippers:

Thank you.

When the RMNB guys invited us to write a farewell post, they suggested that we provide some highlights of your time in D.C., defend your performance this year, or re-tell some stories about the Knights’ antics. To be honest, the stories have already been told, and there are people much more qualified who will write the reviews and summaries and analyses. As fans, all we’re really qualified to do is say Thank You.

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Alex Ovechkin takes a shot against the Panthers

Just another ho-hum night for Ovechkin: 1 goal, 2 assists. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Semyon Varlamov: Your game's number one star. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Semyon Varlamov: Your game's number one star. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

In a matchup between the Eastern Conference’s best and worst teams, Bruce Boudreau opted to scratch three of his regulars — Jason Arnott, Scott Hannan and Alexander Semin — in the Capitals final home game of the regular season. After seeing his team play a tough 65 minutes in Toronto, Boudreau saw no compelling reason to field his best roster, especially considering the Capitals had already clinched their fourth straight Southeast division title.

Despite there being some signs pointing to Mike Green returning to the line-up tonight, Boudreau opted to sit the two-time Norris Trophy finalist as well. Boudreau told the Washington Post’s Greg Schimmel after today’s morning skate that, “No [Green won’t play tonight], but you know what, he’s ready to play and, I mean, he’s been symptom-free for three weeks plus. It’s just we’re trying to be as cautious as we can with things, just as other people are with guys that they have as concussions and could probably play, but they want to make 100 percent sure. We feel he’ll be good to go on Saturday.”

The Capitals “B” team, however, didn’t miss a beat. Before the game was a minute old, Marcus Johansson — he of the ever-burgeoning confidence — inside outted Mike Weaver with an extra-crispy move. Helpless and out of position, Weaver took a tripping penalty, sending the Capitals power play immediately onto the ice. Mike Knuble, the beneficiary of a Brooks Laich power move to the net, scored 23 seconds into the man-advantage. Jason Chimera, brilliantly set-up by Nicklas Backstrom, then scored via a tap-in on Washington’s second powerplay of the night to close the opening stanza.

The Capitals would never look back. Sean Collins would score his second career NHL goal on a rarely-seen four-on-two odd man break during the second period, Matt Hendricks would pot a goal in front of the net after some hard forechecking in the corners and Alex Ovechkin would add an empty-net goal, his 32nd of the season. Caps maul Panthers, 5-2.

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