April 2, 2010
• 10: Ovechkin’s hat trick in game 2 against Pittsburgh last May, one matched by Sidney Crosby in a losing effort. I was NOT there for this one, but was going nuts in my basement and texting my friends who were there.
• 9: Game 7 versus the Rangers last April. I shared this moment at home with my wife. She loves hockey almost as much as I do.
• 8: Game 1 versus the Flyers in 2008. I was at this game. I’ve never been at a louder building in my life. The Caps erased a 3-1 2nd period deficit to win 5-3. I remember getting light headed from jumping up in the air when the Caps scored the go ahead goal. My throat was sore for a full day afterward. It wasn’t my first playoff game, but it was the first playoff game that I saw the Caps win. This game was also the last time I high fived a random stranger.
• 7: Caps winning the Southeast and qualifying for the postseason in the last game of the season against Florida, April 5, 2008. I still watch the last 30 seconds of this game on youtube every now and then. I decided exactly one day before this game that I wanted to go. I called a sales guy I used to know that worked with the Caps, and because he knew that I had bought seats for less meaningful games, he sold me four $55 seats for $35 each. People were paying two and three times face for this game and I got discount seats. The last minute and a half of the game was one of the coolest environments I have ever experienced. I smile every time I think of that night, including right now. The memorabilia collector in me wonders who ended up with the Ovechkin game used stick he chucked into the stands at the end.
• 6: Ovechkin scores 4 goals against the Canadians while enduring a broken nose, January 31, 2008. I took my boss and my wife to this game. I was playing broom-ball on the ice after the game, so I didn’t get to see Ovechkin’s fourth goal. My wife and I ran into some friends at the game and she left my boss and I to sit 4 rows from the ice. Ovechkin’s was the first NHL hat trick I had ever been in the stands for. My hat didn’t make it to the ice from the 400 level.
• 5: Bruce Boudreau’s first game behind the Caps’ bench, Novemver 23, 2007. This game was in Philadelphia, and I wasn’t there. I was however at Glen Hanlon’s last game as coach two days before. I was not part of the crowd chanting “fire Hanlon”. The change was needed, but I couldn’t bring myself to join the chant. Nicklas Backstrom got Bruce Boudreau a win in his 1st game with an overtime goal.
• 4: Ovechkin’s first Caps’ game, against Columbus, October 5, 2005. I was at this game. I remember going in wondering if this “Big O” guy could live up to all the hype. I’m glad we don’t call him the “Big O” anymore. I think I have the ticket stubs for this game around somewhere. They were big and fancy because it was opening night.
• 3: Juneau catapults the Caps to their first-ever Stanley Cup finals, June 4, 1998. This was before I got into hockey, but I do remember watching this game on TV. I started following the Caps regularly about a year later.
• 2: Game 1 of the 1996 Eastern Conference quarterfinals when the Caps overcame a 4-1 deficit to beat Mario, Jaromir, and the Pens 6-4. This was before my time, but any victory against the Pens makes me smile.
• 1: Dale Hunter vanquishes the Flyers in overtime of game 7 in 1988! This game may have been one of the first games I ever watched. The memory that stands out to me was thinking “Wow, they are celebrating like they won the game” after Hunter’s goal. I didn’t know that overtime in the NHL was sudden death. I asked my father several times in subsequent years to take me to a game, but we never went. I was honored to take my Dad to HIS first game sometime during the early 2000’s.
The set seems to be a little heavy on the recent history, mainly due to the Pollin family’s unwillingness or inability to produce video of some of the early years of the organization. I know there is a set out for the Blackhawks and several other teams. I feel very lucky to have seen as many Caps games as I have. I’ve been a hockey fan for about ten years and feel very fortunate to get to see a player the caliber of Ovechkin in my city. I hope you enjoyed this, it was great fun to write.