Go Caps!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I've been a hockey fan for a long time, really getting into it when I was a kid growing up in Connecticut. When my team, the Hartford Whalers (originally World Hockey Association, then National Hockey League), was moved to North Carolina in 1997, my interest level in hockey declined. Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals were unexciting and not very good in the years BAO (Before Alex Ovechkin), and I never really got into the team much, although I followed them. Then there was the NHL lockout in 2004-2005, which killed the entire season. Zzzzzzzz.

Finally, with the 2005-2006 season, we started to see some excitement return, although the Capitals finished 27th out of 30 NHL teams that year. What changed was the rookie season of Alex Ovechkin, who won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year after finishing the season third in the league in scoring and tied for third in goals. In 2006-2007, the Capitals didn't do any better in terms of their win-loss record, but they saw other piece of the puzzle come together, as Alexander Semin scored 38 goals in his second NHL season. In 2007-2008, the Capitals added center Nicklas Backstrom (fourth pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft), defenseman Tom Poti, goaltender Simeon Varlamov, winger (not in a political sense - ha) Viktor Kozlov, and center Michael Nylander (originally drafted by the Hartford Whalers, by the way). Also, the Capitals changed coaches, replacing Glen Hanlon with Bruce Boudreau of the Hershey Bears. That season, the Cap's increased their point total from 70 to 94, going 43-31 and winning 11 of their final 12 regular season games (before falling in seven games to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs).

Finally, this year, everything clicked for the Caps, as the team finished with a 50-24 record and 108 points. That record made the Caps the second seed in the NHL playoffs, with a first-round matchup against the New York Rangers. After falling behind by 2 games in the best-of-seven series, the Caps are now on the verge of tying it up 3-3 and taking it back to D.C. for Game #7 on Tuesday. Right now (4:22 pm), it's 5-2 Caps in the third period, with about 14 minutes left. It will take an amazing comeback by the Rangers to prevent this from going to Game #7, although I've seen stranger things in hockey. For now, though, I say "politics is boring, the Caps rock!" Go Caps! :)

UPDATE 4:47 pm: Game's over, Caps win 5-3. On to game #7!