Complaining about officiating is an unmistakable sign of a poor sport. Only a terrible sportsman blames the referees, but let’s get real: the Caps are getting screwed on penalties against the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m not here to spread conspiracy theories or accuse officials of malpractice; I’ve just got some cold, hard facts that may blow your mind.
What have we done to earn the ire of the hockey fates?
Here’s a sobering thought: I’ve never seen the Caps win in person. Not against the Flyers in 1996. Not against the Kings at the home opener in ’00. Not when they lost in round 1 of the playoffs to the Penguins in ’01. Never.
It’s a fact: Russian Machine Never Breaks is bad luck for the Washington Capitals. We’ve tortured ourselves over whether to disclose these sad facts to you, but in light of our attending tonight’s game with the Ottawa Senators, we feel we must let you know: We are cursed.
Wow. Before we begin, I need a cup of apple juice and a good cry.
Okay. Better now.
The debate prefacing tonight’s game between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins was whether or not this was “just another game”, but that’s just silly. In hindsight we know that any time these two forces meet, something remarkable will happen.
Tonight we rode an emotional rollercoaster through 60 minutes of regulation hockey, another five of overtime, and four shootout rounds before the decision was made. We saw the best and worst of Capitals hockey tonight. But thanks to Old Man Mike Knuble and the Macedonian monster Jose Theodore, the Caps were victorious. Caps beat Pens 4-3 (OT).
In just a few hours, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins will face off for the second-t0-last time ever before the playoffs in a few weeks. The stakes are not as high as they have been– both teams are sure things for the post-season, D.C.’s win streak has ended, and NBC’s Pierre McGuire won’t be leaving drool streaks on the glass barrier between him and the Pens bench. Still, any meeting between these two rivals guarantees an exciting game. Except that one time. But unfortunately, both squads have modified their lines to accommodate injured players. And when our hockey heroes cannot play, we must toast their immortal memory in a feature we like to call… Russian Machine Sometimes Breaks!
On January 12th, 2010, the Washington Capitals got smacked down by the Tampa Bay Lightning. That game was marked by a lack of focus, weak goalie performance, and an insufficient will to win. It was only Alex Ovechkin’s fourth game as Captain, so the loss might have hit him hard (see Bradley stealing his fight). Something about that 7-4 scrubbing might have woken the team up. Maybe that loss was the impetus for the 14-game winning streak that followed.
In honor of The Streak (R.I.P.), the Russian Machine takes a fond look back at how it all came together.
Per a Capitals press release: “As of 10 p.m. ET Saturday, the Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins game scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7, at Verizon Center remains as scheduled. The Penguins are en route to Washington, D.C., and are expected to arrive tonight.”
We here at RMNB have also been observing the Penguins travel plans throughout the day, and it’s been brutal (Thanks for the heads up from On Frozen Blog):
- The Penguins flew out of Montreal earlier today and arrived at the closest airport around DC, which was located in Newark, New Jersey
- The Penguins then took a bus out of Newark and are set to arrive at a DC hotel at 1:30am
- They are then scheduled at 9:30am to take a bus from their hotel to the Phone Booth for tomorrow’s game.
For the fans who are going to try to travel on the terrible roads tomorrow and try and make it to the game, please be very careful. Drive safe. Drive slow. For everyone out there who doesn’t have electricity, we here at RMNB feel terribly for you and hope power is restored soon. We admire both teams resolve to get the game in tomorrow, and the fans/media members we’ve observed so far who are still gonna try and make it. One such example is friend of the blog, Dan Steinberg, who is considering walking 3 miles to his nearest Metro to cover the game.
Finally our deepest condolences are extended to JP of Japers’ Rink and his potentially lost computer. His power went out earlier today, and he can only load his operating system via safe mode when the power’s actually on. Though this is what happens when you don’t own a MAC, JP we seriously hope you get it up and running 100% soon.
Everyone stay safe and warm.
Look. We’re not going to sugarcoat it, we freakin’ hate the Penguins. A vengeful, angry hate. As a small lad, I vividly remember staying up until 3AM, only to watch Petr Nedved score a 4OT goal against the Capitals (shown below) which subsequently knocked my favorite team out of the ’96 playoffs. Did I cry all night and not sleep? Did I fail a test in middle school because of this?
Ugh. Take it down!
Sadly, It’s not just one singular event that has scarred me this bad. The Caps have lost in the playoffs to the Penguins 7 of 8 times including last year’s horrible Game 7 which Peter wrote about last night, and mentally I’m just completely jacked up because of this. Maybe the players aren’t. But I am. I remember 2 years ago, I went to see a Caps Pens game at the Verizon Center. What happened? The Caps jumped out to a 4-1 lead (scored the first three goals) and lost to them in a shootout 5-4. Did I start wildly punching a Verizon Center chair in anger when Crosby sealed the game with his shootout goal? You bet I did. Did I boo him everytime he touched the puck because I thought the NHL was giving him preferential treatment over Ovechkin? Damn straight.
Well now since I’m considered an adult (barely), it’s time to be more mature. However, that does not apply to our readers. A few days ago, I asked our fans to send us their Anti-Pens artwork, and boy did they respond. Below the fold, check out some of what was sent out way. Remember, laughing and trying to humiliate our opponent is meant to be a therapeutic way of letting out our anger. And no, this probably isn’t work appropriate – so beware!!!!
Springtime was magical. Puck fans watched with rapt attention as the Capitals overcame a 3-game deficit to beat the Rangers, and we felt like we were living in charmed times. ”Could this be the year the Caps actually do it?”, we would whisper to ourselves in quiet corners. The team never looked better than it did during those last four games against New York, and we wondered how far it could go.
We would gather at our friends’ houses, donned in red, and we would cheer the team from afar. Tickets were just too darn expensive, so we’d need to pick our game well. Not attending wasn’t an option. The team was too good to miss. Semyon Varlamov had risen from obscurity to become the Kerri Strug of goalies (that is, lithe and successful). The trifecta of Semin, Ovechkin, and Backstrom had turned D.C. into a veritable hero city. Mike Green and his ever-shrinking mohawk was weaponeering his defense. And a young team rallied around its senior Russian, Sergei Federov.
So when the Caps moved up two games over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference playoffs, we knew it was our time. We would secure tickets to the Caps Stanley Cup finals. But everything started to go pear-shaped, and we began to worry if such a series would arrive at all. The Pens snatched the next two games, and we were in a pickle. My friends and I advanced our schedule and procured tickets to the tentative game seven of the Pens-Caps series.