Going into their game 7 matchup with my Washington Capitals against the Tampa Bay Lightning for the right to play for the Stanley Cup, it was already in my top five sporting events in my sports fandom. It already ranks up with the Washington football franchise title run in ’83 (see Riggo run) and the Bullets fever title run in 1978. I still remember the crowd chant of “…EEEEEEEEE…” for Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes and his turn around jump shot and the outlet passes of fellow HOF Wes Unseld.
The reason this game was such a big deal is the hope that it would end a 20 (!) year drought of not getting to the big dance. Back in 1998, the Caps played in the MCI Center, the first year of it’s existence. Even with that, we were not the hockey town that we are trying to be now. It was not a surprise that we were swept by the then powerhouse Detroit Red Wings.
But to paraphrase, as the song goes (for most of you, you will probably have to Google it) baby look at us now. In looking at the game last night, they showed a scene in which our home arena (now called Capital One) was packed with Caps fans wearing our red jerseys, better known to us as “rockin the red”. You going to hearing that a lot in the next few days.
The funny thing is, the game was played in Tampa.
After the game, the fans spilled out onto the streets. And I’m sorry, we did act like we had not been here before. Because we hadn’t. And this was just for winning the Eastern Conference championship. I mean, everybody, of all color and creeds are excited like the Pointer Sisters. And we all like it.
As for the game, it seemed like a formality. It’s rare that I get it right about my analysis for victory. Simply put, I had just three words: Ovi, Holtsby. Leadership. Ovi set the tone by scoring game’s first goal from his office and Holtsby stopped 29 shots en route to his second consecutive shutout.
I admit, I would be lying to you if I said it would be alright if we didn’t win the Cup. That the season was great enough as it is. So I won’t. In my best Chef Curry impersonation…Let’s Goooooooo!!