Getting on the Metro around 5 PM, things looked promising, with the number of new logo jerseys and other apparel increasing with each stop. Bobtimist noted a person whose pre-game odor was less than desirable, toting two separate bags of garbage with him to add nausiating punctuation. These are the things you don't get sitting in face-melting traffic on the way to FedEx Field.
Right off the bat this literally looked like a different type of season. The new hi-def scoreboard is downright snazzy, and the refurbished “Capitals” image at center ice invokes memories of the Capital Centre. All that was missing was Dale Hunter streaking across it to beat Ron Hextall on a breakaway in a Game 7 overtime. Pregame introductions were raucously received by the red-attired crowd, with predictable biggest cheers for Olie and Ovie, and slightly less predictable roars for Brash.
The Caps hit the ice looking sharp. Too bad the same can't be said for poor venerable Caps mascot Slapshot, the Eagle with an attitude, who tumbled to the ice caught up in the flag-waving that enveloped his child-entertaining self.
Pregame promotional items included new thundersticks. While Bobtimist Prime has sullen memories of thundersticks from 7-1 Penguins playoff nightmares, the DCO applauds this newfound technological wrinkle to said sticks. These 2007-2008 thundersticks feature lights that ignite as soon as your seven year old bangs them either together or overtop of your four year old's head. The result? 16 thousand plus with a pair of ET fingers.
The 'canes may be enemy number one tonight, but credit is due to them finishing god's work, abusing the Penguins to the tune of 4-1, with darling Crosby netting nothing, stretching his ineffectiveness streak to four games including their spectacular playoff flameout.
Michael Nylander is looking solid with his sixth child Niklas Backstrom on the line with him. The two continue to exchange passes like flirting toll exchangers. The chemistry is bubbling.
4:34 in the first and umpteenth Philadelphia Flyers can't-miss prospect Justin Williams heads to the box with a boarding call. The powerplay with both Alexes and that Nylander guy snap shots John Grahme's way. Who was Semin's center last year again?
While the power play didn’t strike in the first period, it again applied intense pressure, keeping play in the ‘canes’ zone for almost two minutes. Such was the impressive nature of the special teams (4-minute PPs that never got on track notwithstanding) that one member of DCO commented to the other that the Caps must have “the best 1 for 9 power play in history.” With a second period strike, they now own the best 2 for 10 power play in history).
We are staring at 11:21 in the first and the 'canes have yet to fire a shot Olie's way. The defense is looking super superior.
In our mildly scoffed-at 07-08 postseason awards predictions we awarded the Norris Trophy to an elite Capitals’ defenseman not yet acquired. Perhaps we were a bit hasty. John Erskine, we’re sorry for overlooking you. With a goal and an assist in his first two games, he’s bringing the O like Paul Coffey. With a steadying keeping-the-puck-in-the-offensive-zone presence on the blue line and an increasingly nasty demeanor in the defensive zone, he’s bringing the D like Chris Pronger. Overzealous, blinded-by-optimism comparisons? We’ll see.
After a first period of two, count em, two shots on net, the defense is looking stellar. DCO press box neighbor, and new homeboy, Justin Creech of dcmetrosports.com analyzes, "They are keeping the pressure out of the middle of the ice." The DCO wants people to keep an eye out for young Justin, for he is as solid of a sports reporter as there is out there.
Speaking of sports reporting, the DCO team is interviewed during that first intermission by Washington Times Sports Biz blogger Tim Lemke, who asks about the DCO's humble origins, why our homey Ted Leonsis would do something as crazy as give us access to the Caps like he does and other such things. The DCO's newfound celebrity causes a bit of a strut to formulate in their respective steps. The first intermission ends on that high in the clouds note.
25 hits 8 for one of those totally awesome goals that you like, totally knew was coming. Kozlov to Ovechkin is sounding delicious in the DCO's ears right now, and at 14:24, they finally fruition George McPhee's Kastan-like plan. Post game thoughts with Hanlon have the coach noting that, "That is the best exchange we have seen in this building in who knows how many years." One-nothing caps. Who was Ovie's center last year again?
What's the deal with this New York Times game night promotion? Seriously, we are supposed to fork over dough to read about Jaromir and the Rangers every day so we can possibly gain a Capitals towel? Strange indeed.
Olie has only had to bear 10 shots halfway through the second period and Milan Jurcina (the Wily Mo Pena of this brilliantly planned squad) flips a wrister that deflects off of several Hurricaines before settling into its home in the net. Two-nil Caps.
Boy these High-def screens really capture Boyd Gordon's ruggedness. The Caps defensive tenacity is off the charts. Sticks touch pretty much every Carolina Hurricaine chance, and Olie pretty much only had to stand on his head once on a two-on-one in the third. The Caps finish the 'Canes off, 2-nada.
"A lot of credit has to go to the forwards," says Olie. The DCO asks Olie in the locker room if it was one of his easier shut outs. Olie politely responds, "I wouldn't say that. The less shots you get, the harder it is. I wouldn't say it was my easiest," all to the tune of several reporters guffawing. The DCO would like to clarify that we just wanted Olie to say something else wonderful about the way the defense played and that we still love him.
The media announcer announces that 16,741 have attended tonight's game, which is not quite a sell-out, but pretty damn relevant. The DCO predicts more in the future, once this furious 'tism catches on.
Postgame: The DCO prods Alex Ovechkin in the locker room asking him, "Is this the best team in the Southeast Division?" To which he responded, in a totally, non-bulletin board material starting way, "Right now, I can't say we are the best. But I don't want to say that we are the best. We have to play hard the way we played the last two games." The DCO remains equally impressed with Alex's awesomeness on the ice and his awesomeness grasping the newfound English language, being both politically correct and grammatically sound is something this blog struggles with enough to appreciate the strides he has taken. More Caps' Postgame, Olie Kolzig plainly put forward the team’s expected result: “We plan to make the playoffs and surprise a lot of people.” His tone suggested an attitude much like that of another local team who defied expectations recently.