By Ian Oland and Elyse Bailey
There’s been an adorable trend in the NHL this season. Several teams have psuedo-adopted puppies to help promote the service-dog industry. Not only have these pups raised awareness for those special groups, their interactions with players have also given these NHL teams an extra dose of cuteness on their social media accounts.
Days before the postseason began, the Washington Capitals wanted to do something grander. Inspired by the Puppy Bowl, the Caps put their own hockey spin on the championship dog game.
This was the result.
First, John Walton previewed the stakes of this Very Important hockey slobber fest.
“This was the night that all Caps Canine fans were waiting for,” Walton said. “An inner-litter battle royale! Rules will be broken; teams will be tested. And these rescue pups will put it all on the line. There’s bound to be plenty of playoff intensity as the pups play for the championship in our Caps Canine Puppy Playoffs.”
“I’m pumped, Johnny,” Craig Laughlin, the color commentator, said – his volume at 11.
The game was hosted “live” at Olde Towne Pet Resort in front of a soldout crowd (of a handful of people). According to Walton, Olde Towne Pet Resort “is the perfect home away from home for your pet.”
The roster consisted of dogs from a litter of puppies from Homeward Trails Animal Rescue before they were to be placed in their forever homes.
Now let’s the meet the teams.
The first dog from Team Blue introduced was “fierce defender and fellow outdoorsman,” Mutt Niskanen. He’s wearing a hockey helmet in his bio picture.
“He’s a Mutt all right, John, but he plays like a purebred,” Laughlin observed.
Next up on the ice was Nicklas Barkstrom. “He’s honed his skills in the hills of Sweden,” Laughlin said.
We have no idea what that means.
Lars Yeller was then introduced to the roaring crowd printout pasted to the arena walls. “He’s actually got some Great Dane in him,” Walton observed. “He’s a working dog,” Laughlin surmised.
Next up on the roster was the illustrious Dmitry Furlov. What is his secret weapon? Laughlin let viewers know, “He can shimmy and shake. He throws you off on his plays because he wags his tail – you go the other way.”
In net? You guessed it. The best of the best, Braden Howltby! “He uses all four paws to stop the puck. He has so much agility post to post. How the heck can you beat a guy like that?” Laughlin exclaimed. You can’t because he is technically a dog, not a person.
“I don’t think you can,” Walton said.
“It’s the Great 8’s number one fan.” Where in the world did Team Red get a talent like this! Well, Laughlin let viewers know that Ofetchkin “honed his skills fetching stuff his whole life in Russia.”
While the name “P.B. Oshie” might confuse a lot of folks, especially ones that have never owned a dog, P.B. means “peanut butter”! Walton explained to his co-host, “Dogs love peanut butter, Locker. You knew that.” Locker also mentioned that P.B. Oshie is known to “always put the puck under the top shelf.” This is a good peanut butter pun.
Evgeny Furznetsov was mentioned next and honestly, he looks exactly like Kuznetsov himself. A little unsure, but overjoyed to be there.
Assistant captain Barks Orpik made a beeline straight to the goal and laid down. Walton theorized, “That’s different. Maybe he thinks he’s goaltending?” Locker thought, “Maybe he just needs a nap. He’s a veteran.” We have never related more.
In net for the Red Team is Pheonix Pupply.
Before kicking the game off, it’s important to make sure the ice surface is smooth and shiny (that’s the point of a ice resurfacer, right?). A brave soldier on the Capitals crew hit the ice with a mini ice scraper, or possibly a pooper scooper? At any rate, if that person had to pick up a turd they deserve a raise.
For goals, practically anything counted. If the puppy runs a stick, puck, or bone into the net it’s a goal. They put peanut butter on the pucks, which made the dogs very aggressive.
The puck dropped and while you usually see teams begin to battle for the puck, instead these pupparonis chose love. They began sniffing and licking each other right when it began. There was so much scratching, we were a tad worried about the flea situation.
As for the goaltenders, you know when you’re a kid and you’re on a soccer team and there is always someone sitting at the other end picking daisies? That’s what happened with Howltby and Pupply. The goalies slept in their respective cages until another dog walked on their face. Some of the dogs were more interested in getting some TV time than scoring goals.
Highlight fights of the game? We thought you’d never ask!
Ofetchkin was given a two-minute minor penalty for biting, which is obviously not allowed (*looks directly at Brad Marchand*). He was sent to the puppy penalty box, which was a dog cage decorated with a Capitals dog pillow, a Capitals blanket, and Alex Ovechkin pennants (seems pretty biased, but sure okay). That gave Team Blue a PAW-ER PLAY.
“Pretty plush sin bin if you ask me,” Walton said. We did start to imagine a penalty box in the NHL where players are given a blanket and pillow. Could be cute, BUT ANYWAY. According to Walton, Ofetchkin was “just itching to get back out there.” He was crying in the penalty box, even though he was just…in a bed. Which is what most of us do anyway. He’s not that special.
Another fight that occurred was when they all fought over Braden Howltby’s goalie mask.
This seems pretty unfair because if they were just jealous, maybe they should’ve gone to the dog store and gotten their own. Don’t take someone else’s things if you want them! That’s stealing! At RMNB, we are here to make sure you always learn a life lesson, even if it’s from a dog show.
1-0 Alex Ofetchkin
1-1 Lars Yeller
2-1 Alex Ofetchkin (2)
2-2 Nicklas Barkstrom
3-2 Evgeny Furznetsov
3-3 Dmitry Furlov
4-3 Evgeny Furznetsov (2)
4-4 Mutt Niskanen
5-4 Evgeny Furznetsov (3)
Here were the three stars (who definitely deserved extra treats).
#CapsCanines Puppy Playoffs 3 ⭐️'s of the game:
⭐️: Evgeny Furznetsov
⭐️⭐️: Alex Ofetchkin
⭐️⭐️⭐️: Nicklas Barkstrom
Watch: https://t.co/RFpu4pT3Px pic.twitter.com/Gk60B8C35j
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 8, 2019
In summary, if 16 minutes of dog puns and watching pups run out a lot of energy is your cup of tea…this is the program for you. Many props to Craig Laughlin and John Walton for giving the job (especially the jokes) 110 percent no matter what they are commentating.
So, who's doing the @russianmachine recap for this?
Peter Basset? https://t.co/3cuDhDcA4X
— Playoff Beagle, Pt. I: Enter The Jerks (@CapsRegalBeagle) April 8, 2019
Nope! Ian Houndland and Elyse Barkley
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