As the regular season is winding down and hockey fans around the US (but not Canada this year!) focus their attention on the post season, its easy to see the excitement around DC as Caps fans wonder if this could be the year. Josh Sharma is a northern Virginia native and THE biggest Capitals fan I know. I’ve spent many a nights at the Verizon Center with Josh cheering on Ovie and the boys. Josh has been kind enough to provide us with his thoughts on what hopes to be an exciting post-season for the Caps.
“The regular season is a great time to be a Caps fan”
My Dad has told me this for years now. So far he has been spot on, but you know what? The Washington Fan Syndrome burns hard in my veins and every year is THE year we are going to prove the skeptics wrong (kind of like that team in burgundy and gold, right?). Here we are, at the end of March. Staring down the barrel of a loaded playoff gun. The Washington Capitals could lose every game that is left in the remainder of the 2016 season and still be able to maintain the status as President’s trophy winners. Does this situation sound familiar?
Enduring injuries to key defensive players like John Carlson and Brooks Orpik along the way, and Jay Beagle being sidelined for a wrist injury that required surgery, didn’t make it easy. The Caps also parted ways with what was the current longest tenured athlete out of any Washington team, Brooks Laich. Somehow, the chemistry remains strong as coach Barry Trotz has not hesitated to shake lines up like a martini-shaken, not stirred. Key additions in the offseason, Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie, have brought that secondary scoring threat we have been seeking. Williams also brings Stanley Cup experience to the table. I mean, his nickname is Mr. Game Seven and he has three rings. The “kids” have also stepped up. Words cannot Describe Sir Evegeny Kuznetsov on the ice. Andre Burakovsky, yes another Swede you will love for years to come, has proceeded to evolve as a young player in the NHL and seems to be able to play with whoever Trotz throws him out with. Jason Chimera is one of the fastest NHL skaters at age 37. Karl Alzner has taken interest in scoring, which is nice. Coach Trotz has “rehabbed” Mike Richards (Get the joke?). Holtby is an anchor our ship needs and is having a record setting season. Backstrom remains the slickest zdwede in D.C. Oh yeah, and we have that guy Ovechkin, who leads the league in goals… again.
We currently are the best team in the NHL, yet despite that, we get very little respect. Why is this? Well let me tell you what EVERY fan of ANY team tells me. “Talk to me when you win a cup…or make it out of the first round.” I have dealt with the Penguins fans on the steps of Gallery Place. I have heard the chants from the Rangers fans in Verizon Center. Anyone I know who is a fan of a team from the Western Conference has thrown at me the East hasn’t won a cup in…. yeah let’s not talk about that. So what is the solution to the Caps haters? Simple, show up in the playoffs.
The Caps have secured home ice advantage throughout the playoffs as long as they are alive. The Verizon Center in the playoffs is an experience unlike any other. Having home ice should be a huge advantage for this team, especially in those nagging game seven situations. The wildcard in the east is still undecided and the Caps could find themselves facing any of the following – Detroit, Philadelphia, New Jersey, or a long shot at Ottawa or Carolina. So us Caps fans can be picky in who to root for in the final weeks of the 2016 season. Who would you like to see the Caps face in the first round?
At the end of the day, management and ownership are “all in” on this team, and so am I. All the pieces are in place and now it’s time to execute. It is time to be able to spend all summer telling those people who have looked down on you as a first round losing Caps fan, “HEY WE GOT ONE!!!!”
Rock the red, unleash the fury, get excited, stay up late on a weekday for your hockey team, spend the money on a playoff ticket, and do your part to support our boys.
Sorry Dad, you were wrong – anytime is a great time to be a Caps fan.