What a time to be alive! The Washington Capitals are one win away from lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup. I have to remind myself that this is real. This is so goddamn exciting that I don’t know how to act. I almost feel like it’s going by too quickly. Is there any way to drag this beautiful playoff run out for another month? Even if the Caps do end up winning the Stanley Cup, there will be a part of me that when the final horn sounds is a bit sad that it’s all over. That’s how much fun I am having watching this team. I don’t want it to end. What a run it’s been. After soul crushing exits in the playoffs throughout the Caps history, this team has made all of us who rock the red push those excruciating memories right out of our two holes and on ice for the time being. Those memories sure do stink but it makes all of this even sweeter.
When the Caps lost to the Pens in game 7 of the second round at home last year, I hit a low point as a sports fan. I was sitting in a bar in Brooklyn, NY, where I was living at the time, watching the game with two of the most obnoxious Caps fans in the entire world and about 20 penguins fans. When the clock ran out I wondered why the hell I do this to myself. The Caps fan to my right threw his can of beer across the bar and started screaming about how he hated this team almost as much as he hated his mother. The Penguins’ fans were doing some trashy chant about how awesome Pittsburgh is. The bartender was looking at me with such unabashed pity. It was a point in life where I closed my eyes for a second and evaluated all of the previous decisions that I had made that led me to this point in time. I loved the Caps with all of my little heart but this love was damaging my brain, my internal organs and putting me in harms way of a psycho chucking beer cans. I slowly walked out of the bar and made the two and a half mile trek through disgusting Bushwick, stepping in multiple piles of dog/human shit that constantly littered the streets, back to my tiny closet sized bedroom that was infested with bed bugs and mice. Just me, my thoughts and my beer stained Alex Ovechkin jersey. It was the ultimate walk of shame without the fun, one-night-stand. In that moment I knew that I had no choice but to do it all again next year and I was terrified. Most of the time when my favorite sports team is eliminated, I can’t wait to get back to that point next year and have a chance to watch them have another crack at it. That night I wanted the next year to go by as slowly as possible so I didn’t have to feel this way again. I couldn’t possibly not watch and my heart would be just as invested next time around.
I wrote a blog at the beginning of this Caps’ season after Ovi scored 7 goals in the first two games. I wrote about how I was talking to a friend of mine about Ovi’s amazing start and he said, “yeah but does it even matter?” He was clearly making the point that who the hell cares about what happens in the first week of the season. None of that matters. The regular seasons had been littered with great moments and achievements but let’s talk about April. Let’s talk about early May. And God knows we can’t even talk about June. I justified my excitement by talking about how the journey can be great even if the ending is brutal. Why can’t I enjoy the Caps’ great regular seasons even if there is a mighty chance, heavily supported by past examples, that it will end with a Mike Tyson sized body blow? We all die in the end, right? Does that mean we can’t enjoy life? This is what the Caps do to me.
While sitting in my hotel room in Disney World during game 6 of this years second round against the Pens, watching the game on my damn phone because Disney hates fun and didn’t have NBCSN on their TV, I had that feeling again. This could be the night when everything changes. I thought back to a year earlier, sitting in that dingy bar in Brooklyn, surrounded by a bunch of douchebags. I thought about how much difference a year makes. I debated internally whether I’d rather take that poop filled walk of shame in Brooklyn or walk through Magic Kingdom in 90-degree weather. But, when the third period ended and the game was headed to overtime, while nervous, I just kept thinking, this has to be the night. One goal. Just score the next goal. Ovi hits Kuzy with a pass up the middle sending him away, alone, in on Matt Murray. Please score. This is it. Please score. Common Kuzy. He deeks, opens up the five hole, and slides it through. Caps win. Just like that. Pretty sure the entire hotel heard me as I danced across the room yelling god knows what. I know there were a million Caps fans doing the same thing. Feeling the same way. That goal changed everything.
They couldn’t just beat the Penguins and then fade out. The Caps had to make a run all the way to the cup. What would be the point in finally beating Pittsburgh, finally making it to the conference finals, just to come up short? After taking the first two games in commanding fashion in Tampa, things looked damn good. Everything was right in the world. Then, all of sudden the Caps were facing an elimination game. Three straight loses and here we were. Two more wins and the Cup Finals were here. One more loss and everything that seemed to have changed this year, would all be forgotten and this season would be added to the list. Another long walk from somewhere to somewhere else, in my beer stained Ovi Jersey seemed too close. Not again. But this team wouldn’t let that happen. Game 6 was a hard fought, desperate effort that was I was lucky enough to be in attendance for. Those dudes weren’t losing that game. Gritty as it gets. Then there was game 7. The Caps were going to win. They had to win. They won. When Ovi scored in the first couple minutes of the game, it was over. The lightning didn’t score for the last 7 plus periods of the series. The Caps were going to Vegas.
The Cup Finals have been so damn awesome. It’s impossible not to enjoy every second of it. The scene in DC for every game whether a home game or a game in Vegas has been so cool to see. But, it’s obviously not over. Caps fans know damn well that it’s not over. I mean, the Caps are going to win The Cup but let’s not jinx it. There is no way they can be this close and not win it. There is no way this fan base and organization, after all they have been through can be this close to drinking every type of liquid out of Lord Stanley and not taste the sweet silver. When Ovi lifts the cup, it’s going to be one of the most badass sports moments ever. But let’s not jinx it. Screw it. Jinxes are bullshit. Lift the damn cup Ovi. Drink all the vodka you could ever dream of out of The Cup. Hand it to Nick Backstrom and let him drink brannvin straight outa that thing. Let Branden Holtby chug Moose Mead or whatever the hell they drink in Canada. Pass it to TJ for an IPA.
I know my fandom and emotional experience with this team in not unique. I think my experience pretty much sums up the last how ever many years for most Caps fans. I’m sure Caps fans have all had moments when they closed their eyes and wondered why in the hell they do this to themselves. This is just my perspective. My story as a Caps fan. One more win, baby!
My homework assignment was to list all of the things I would do for a ticket to a Stanley Cup finals game. I’m willing to except tickets to game 5 in Vegas or(hopefully not) game 6 in DC, or god forbid game 7 back in Vegas.
When I was 10, my Dad and I went to game 4 of the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals. We went to DC without tickets and it wasn’t looking good on the scalping front. The puck was about to drop when this guy comes up to us and asks us if we wanted to go to the game. Well, duh, Skippy. This dude had a company box and was able to get my Dad and I into his box for free. He gave us the front row seats and fed us all of the food and drink anyone could ever want. He treated us like VIP. I’m not big into religion, but if there is a Heaven, Chris from Cabletron is a first ballot inductee, no doubt. I hope he isn’t in heaven yet, and if Chris is reading this, I’m totally down to be your guest again.
Anyway, here are some things I’m willing to do for tickets.
- Take care of someone….like, get rid of them.
- Eat an entire cup full of Jerry’s toenail clippings.
- Watch an entire Orioles’ game
- Buy a Lamar Jackson jersey
- Pretend like I can tolerate Lacrosse
- Give Jim Tyler a bubble bath
- Be a pair of Jason’s sweatpants for a day
- Turn Down
- Listen to House Party on repeat until I punch something
- Own a Pug
- Have a 30 minute conversation with Vinny Cerrato about men’s hand size
- Hold an ” I support Dan Duquette,” sign at an Orioles game while staying and watching the whole game.
- Wash windows for liquor
- Try heroin
- Not shower for a month and then not shower for the next month either
- Go to Bushwick and spend a week doing nothing but cleaning up poop
- Boo Joe Flacco…..nope never mind, can’t do that one….ehhh cup tickets would be awesome…crap
- Wear my Alex Ovechkin jersey every day for a year
- Be gay in the Middle East
- Be gay in Alabama
- Always be grateful to the wonderful human who gives me tickets. I’ll be forever in your debt and it would just be a really nice thing to do.
ONE MORE WIN!!!!