As has already been well reported elsewhere, in the blogsphere and mainstream media, the Caps completed a 4-0 season series sweep of the Eastern Conference leading Ottawa Senators with a well executed game plan last evening that resulted in a 4-2 victory. The Senators Game was one of the games where season ticket holders got to exchange unused tickets for seats, as such I attended with seven of my United States Merchant Marine Academy Class of 1982 classmates. We had a few bites to eat and liquid refreshments at La Tasca on 7th Street before the game and then went to our seats in Section 118 (vice my usual vantage point in Section 103). Watching the game from 118 gives one a much different look at the Caps then watching from 103 since you are looking at the goal the Caps defend twice the goal that they shoot at. As such, we were in perfect position to watch some great saves by Caps Goalie Brent Johnson and two goal saving plays by Caps defensive stalwart Tom Poti. Whereas, we had to watch Mike Green's classic "Top Shelf" power play goal that started the game's scoring at 00:47 into the second period on the "jumbotron". After going up 2-1 at 15:03 of the second on a Wayne Redden wrist shot, the Senators tried to turn up the tempo and get 2 goals up on the Caps only to falter and find themselves deadlocked with the Caps 2-2 on a goal by Alexander Semin wrist shot just 23 seconds later at 15:26. The third period saw a power play goal by the Great Number Eight at 9:26 and another superb effort by Alexander Semin to net an insurance goal at 11:56. Following Semin's second goal the Senators were once again "buzzing" but the Caps repulsed several strong efforts and counter attacked. By the 15:00 mark Senator's Captain Daniel Alfredsson was clearly frustrated though the Caps nemesis Mike Fisher had two chances one was well played and broken up by Shoane Morrison and the other was thwarted by one of Brent Johnson's 26 saves in the game.
For me and my party the game was even better, getting 8 of my 220 college classmates together in one place, other than at our once every 5 year anniversary homecoming parties is a rare treat. Doing it and watching the Caps win is even sweeter. Following the game several of us who didn't have to be at work till later than 7AM this morning repatriated to Clyde's for a victory nightcap and to finish catching up on things relating to family, children, career and other mutual interests such as beer and scotch. As I reflect on the great friendships created during my time at my Alma Mater I really envy my son, who is a high school senior this year his upcoming four years. I'm also just very grateful for the life and fun career I've had so far even though my responsibilities at ICx Technologies required me to take a "Red Eye" back from San Diego, Monday Night/Tuesday morning to make our mini-reunion.
The victory last night means the Caps are still only 5 points out of the division leading Atlanta Thrashers and the faltering Carolina Hurricanes, however the Caps have played just 45 games while the Thrashers have completed 47 games and the 'Canes 48. The Caps next two games are at home - tomorrow against the 21-22-4 Edmonton Oilers and Saturday against the 20-22-4 Florida Panthers. Wins in both those games put the Caps right in the thick of the race for the Division lead and a playoff spot. The way they have been playing since Thanksgiving, you have to believe it is a possibility. For Caps fans this situation - contending for a playoff spot - seemed very hard to imagine just six weeks ago. Since the coaching change Coach Bruce Boudreau's team has captured 30 of a possible 48 points (62.5%) and have a 13-7-4 record - these guys are for real. Alexander Semin has 5 goals in the last 10 games (including his two last night) and seems to have either recovered fully, or more likely just come to terms with playing with an aching ankle. Ovie has 9 goals while Mike Green has tallied 5 times in the last 10 games as well. Additionally, the Caps have gotten goals in reasonable numbers from team members less frequently mentioned in that vein over the past 6 weeks and that has made all the difference in the world. The only two real disappointments since Thanksgiving were being shutout by the Boston Bruins 2-0 on January 3rd and loosing Center Michael Nylander for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury and surgery that was announced today. On to and through the Oilers and the Panthers - LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!