Monday, April 5, 2010

A Caps Memory

My buddy Scott recently posted a list of his favorite Caps games, which got me thinking about my personal favorite Caps games.

I rememeber my first game, against Winnepeg, somewhere in the 1984 or 1985 timeframe, probably December 17, 1984, because I remember the score being huge (7-5 Jets win).

I remember a November 8, 1991 game against Detroit that I won tickes to (Bob Probert scored 2 goals and fought someone, if memory serves me).

I remember a pre-season game on September 21, 2005 in which I remember thinking "that Bourque kid sure looks better than Ovechkin" in Ovie's first game at MCI Verizon Center...wrong. Because I remember the next pre-season game where he scored a hat trick against Pittsburgh.

I, of course, remember Joe Juneau's goal against Buffalo and, later, Esa Tikkanen's HUGE miss in the Cup Finals that, I insist, lost us The Cup.

But of all my Caps memories, one stands out: April 25, 1990.

The Caps were playing the New York Rangers in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after beating the New Jersey Devils in Round 1. My mom managed to get tickets to Game 4 of both the Devils' and Rangers' series', which were the first playoff games I ever attended. The Rangers had won Game 1, but the Caps had managed to win game 2 in NYC and game 3 at the Capital Centre. Game 4 was a close game and eventually went into OT. Then (from the Washington Post, 4/26/90):

Rod Langway, the heart, soul, brains and muscle of the Washington Capitals for the past seven years-precisely the length of The Cap Curse-took the game and perhaps the season on his stick and headed for the goal in overtime.
The great defenseman hadn't scored a goal in more than a year. At Capital Centre, he does everything else. But he doesn't score. Not once this season.
This time, just 34 seconds into overtime, he did, to give the battered, undermanned and underdog Capitals a 4-3 victory and a three-games-to-one lead over the New York Rangers...

It was the last playoff goal Rod Langway would ever score and he would go on to score only once more in a Caps uniform. When the puck went in the net and everyone jumped up, cheering, the guy behind me managed to throw his full, large beer into the air. It landed on 12 year old me, in a cascade of Bud Lite-iness. My mom looked appalled. The guy behind me looked terrified. Seriously, it was as if I pulled a knife on him. My personal reaction was slightly different.


I high-fived the guy. He was stunned... he shook his head and started laughing. First time my mom heard me swear, if I'm not mistaken. And I didn't get in trouble for it either. I did have to take a shower that night though, as going to school the next day smelling like a frat party didn't seem like an option.

That year, the Caps would beat the Rangers in 5 and go on to play in their first Conference Finals, losing to the Boston Bruins in 4 games. I went to game 4 of that series as well, a loss. But Rod Langway and a beer shower still made it a post season to remember.

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