Saturday morning, the Washington Capitals fan base came out in force to give a proper sendoff to the 2018 Eastern Conference Champions.
According to the team, 6,000 fans packed Kettler Capitals Iceplex to watch the first practice before the Stanley Cup Final, which will pit Washington against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin got a roaring ovation from the crowd when he first went took to the ice. The squad took to the Arlington Rink first before concluding practice on their own ice. Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis roamed the practice facility he helped build and gave away free merch to fans.
After practice ended and the Capitals showered up, players walked through a roped off area on top of the parking deck. A wall of Capitals supporters gathered in the oppressive heat to salute the players and give them high fives. The Caps gave out rally towels and t-shirts. Some players wore suits. Lars Eller wore jorts.
But in the end, the sendoff was another watershed moment for the hockey community in this area.
Tom Wilson and Andre Burakovsky have a special bond. The two players lived together, wrestled each other frequently, and shared a deep, passionate love for macaroni and cheese.
So it was no surprise when the pair admired a Caps fan’s poster which featured Tom Wilson punching a dude in the head.
On Saturday, the Washington Capitals held a Stanley Cup Final sendoff at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Fans packed out the rink to support the team before they head out to Vegas for Game One.
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was in attendance and possibly the happiest person there. To reward the fans for standing by the team, Leonsis threw an assortment of merchandise into the stands — including hats, rally towels, and t-shirts.
Before the Stanley Cup Final kicks off, The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon graced us all with another round of his popular NHL Superlatives segment.
This time, Fallon covered players from only the two final teams which gave us more superlatives for Capitals players including Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Jay Beagle, Jakub Vrana, Brett Connolly, and Philipp Grubauer.
The Washington Capitals hosted a Stanley Cup Final sendoff at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and it was a mad house.
This video of Alex Ovechkin walking out from the locker room to the ice will give you chills.
With the Capitals victorious in the Conference Final and now primed to face their former GM, defenseman, and Cody freakin’ Eakin in the Cup Final, Ian and I sat down to collect our thoughts.
Our thoughts are mostly, “howwwwwwwww did this happen?”
Capitals legend and former Vezina Trophy winner Olie Kolzig was a late bloomer. Despite breaking into the NHL in 1989, Kolzig did not win a game with the Capitals until 1995 during his 14th NHL game and eighth start. Kolzig played no more than 29 games in a season until the 1997-98 campaign where at age 27, he took the starting spot from Bill Ranford. He became one of the best goaltenders in the league and one of the most popular players in team history.
During the postseason that year, Kolzig led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final for the very first time. Kolzig, nicknamed Godzilla for his fieriness, posted a 1.95 goals against average, a .941 save percentage, and four shutouts.
Two decades later, Kolzig was pulled off the Capitals bench and onto the ice by Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby after the team won the Prince of Wales Trophy for the second time in franchise history.
“For them to invite me into that picture was very special because that was a special moment,” Kolzig, the Capitals’ professional development coach, said to NHL.com. “For those two to consider me part of that group makes you feel like you’re a big part of it.”
After the photo, Kolzig hugged both players.
The Washington Capitals will be participating in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in two decades as they take on the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
After having a huge turnout for Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final, the Capitals will be opening up Capital One Arena again for a watch party to watch the away games. The doors open for both games at 7 PM. Game One is Monday and Game Two is Wednesday.
Heading into Wednesday night’s Game Seven, the Washington Capitals had not made the Stanley Cup Final in 20 years, spanning the entire Alex Ovechkin Era in DC. Caps goaltender Braden Holtby, who has backstopped the team during many of its second round exits, shut out the Tampa Bay Lightning in Games Six and Seven to push the team to the championship round.
He cried while posing for a team photo with the Prince of Wales Trophy.
Get your evenings cleared out one more time for the next two weeks, because your Washington Capitals have made it to the big dance. The NHL has released the full schedule for the Stanley Cup Finals, in which the Caps will face off against the Western Conference Champion Vegas Golden Knights.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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