It’s possible that tonight will be the final Capitals game at Verizon Center this season. If the Caps lose tonight and on Saturday, that’s it for the year. That’s a bit of a downer note to start on, but I want the stakes to be clear: the family name is on the line.
So, Caps fans, do your thing. Judging by history, it’s going to be a big night.
First things first: it’s a #REDOUT at Verizon Center. If you’re attending, please don your reddest reds. (Might I recommend an RMNB shirt? They’re almost all red.) If everyone rocks together, the Caps’ home barn could and should look like a unified horde of smiling, crimson loons.
Warning: If you’re wearing a white shirt with some narrow-ass red stripes and you consider that sufficient, you might get side-eyed. We want absolute red, 100-percent saturation red, none redder, the kind of red that hurts your eyes.
Double warning: If you’re a business guy in a business suit and you think wearing a red power tie is okay, I don’t even know what to say to you.
Here’s a thought: If you have some old red shirts in your garage or other car-hole, maybe bring some extras with you. Hand ’em out to that clueless Caps fan on F Street who didn’t read RMNB. (Also, maybe ask him to read RMNB? We’d appreciate it.)
Now let’s talk about Tommy.
Who could ever be mad at this baby face? And yet, the New York Islanders are fixated on Tom Wilson, who injured the oft-concussed Lubomir Visnovsky last game in a clean hit (called for charging, but for which he will not face supplemental discipline). Visnovsky’s status for tonight is dubious, but Wilson’s is not: he will be a target.
While I’ve been skeptical about Wilson’s role on this team since the beginning, he’s acquitted himself within that role perfectly well. He’s a penalty factory, but he draws (20) more than he commits (16) — a skill the Capitals could use right now. The team is averaging just 1.75 power-play opportunities a game and have scored just one power-play goal. That last part isn’t anything Caps fans can fix (maybe Mike Green can?), but getting favorable calls isn’t entirely beyond the fans’ control. Working the refs and antagonizing the Isles (players, not fans– more on that below) may play to the home team’s advantage.
This is the theatrical dimension of hockey– more coarse and less corsi. Maybe Caps fans can help the officials locate the the dessicated remains of their long-dead senses of fair play. If that’s too much to ask, how about some soft calls in the Caps’ favor for once?.
I just don’t want to see the Caps resort to this for game six:
Random story: Back in high school, my friend CJ went out for the diving team. He wasn’t a great diver, or even necessarily a competent one, but he was a sweet guy, so we supported him completely. Whatever dive he attempted, usually some variation of a backflop, we cheered as if he had just won Olympic gold. His attitude was relentlessly positive, so we had to.
Does that mean we need a mocking chant for Jaroslav Halak? I don’t know. I’m still emotionally devastated by what he did to us on this same day five years ago (btw, thanks, JP, for the reminder, you monster), but I trust the fans in the arena to make the right decision. Whatever you do, do it loud.
Loud because I’m reminded of this same day, four years ago, when 18-thousand Caps fans with one voice let the league know who we are.
The Caps won that game 3-1 and advanced to the second round. (Let’s not discuss what happened in that second round.)
The fans at Verizon Center don’t have to revive the “we are louder” chant. It wouldn’t be unwelcome if they did, but looking back at all the wonderful output and creativity we’ve seen from Caps fans this season, I’m sure you can come with some brilliant and funny cheers.
Something about the Isles moving to Brooklyn? Something about the team not getting past the first round of the playoffs in over twenty years? Something about Halak possibly not being 100-percent comfortable playing against his old team?
Something about Ovechkin’s ranking relative to other superstar players? Something about the Holtbeast? Something about Dad Strength?
If you’ve got any ideas, share ’em in the comments.
And once you’re in the arena, start something new and spread it around. If someone next to you starts a new cheer, back ’em up. (I’d do it myself, but I’ll be on the couch with the bulldog.)
Just have fun with it. That’s the thing I think we as a community do best. We have moar fun. Fun is infectious to your friends and infuriating to your foes.
And that brings me to this last point. A lot of has been made in the last week about the wretched treatment some Caps fans received in Uniondale. That was poorly done by some Islanders fans, although I believe that behavior isn’t representative of the Isles as a whole.
When you see a New York fan tonight (a rare sight I hope), I trust you’ll make them feel as welcome in Verizon Center as they made our people feel unwelcome at Nassau. Literally kill them with kindness.
Wait. Let me start over.
Antipathy has its place, but it’s on the ice– between Wilson and Okposo, Ovechkin and Boychuk, Holtby and everyone who shoots at Holtby. There’s no place for hate up in the stands. We’ve got way too much in common for that.
Plus: nothing confuses a bully like being nice to him.
I’m usually pretty happy to watch games from home, where I can wear my pajamas and hang out with my dog and write some jokes for the website. Tonight, however, I’ll wish I were at Verizon Center with all of you, rocking the red, cheering on the guys, and generally having a party in the upper bowl.
I hope there are fist bumps and high fives and cry fives for the people in red. I hope there are polite handshakes and warm smiles for the folks in Isles garb. I hope there are rocked red outfits and raining hats and bailamos.
If Verizon Center could just sing “Bailamos,” that’d pretty much guarantee a win, right?
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