Saturday, April 05, 2008

SE Division Champions...what just happened here

From the high of training camp and the anticipation of the season because of the new additions to the team (Poti, Kozlov, Nylander and rookie Center Nicklas Backstrom ) to the low of Thanksgiving morning when the Caps organiziation finally fired Coach Glen Hanlon to the resurgence of the history making Caps (last in the NHL at Thanksgiving to first in their division), it's been a roller coaster of a season. The Caps are playoff bound for the first time since the 2002-2003 season. The Florida Panthers did the Caps a huge favor last night in beating the Carolina Hurricanes. It was up to the Caps to beat Florida tonight and take the playoffs and the SE Division title away from Carolina. The Caps did what they needed, too, beating Florida 3-1.

This wasn't a game for the rabid fan to enjoy, it was a game to endure. Most of the people around us felt like we did, clock watching, and just wanting the damn game to be over. The Carolina win was more fun. But, the Verizon Center rocked even louder than the Carolina game (the echo was amazing) and the end of the 3rd period was awesome with everyone standing up and clapping.

Tomas Fleischmann put the Caps up 1-0 in the 1st period, netting his 10th of the season. For someone who gets so much grief from Caps fans I was happy for him to get that goal. He's young. Watching Brooks Laich blossom this year makes me realize patience is needed before giving up on these young players.

The trade deadline players, once again, stole the show. Sergei Fedorov showed everyone just how much he wants to go back to the playoffs with his game winning goal at 15:03 in the 2nd. Matt Cooke made his presence felt everywhere and Cristobal Huet continued his sparkling net minding. Alexander Semin, 1 goal, 1 assist (to/from Fedorov) is clearly learning much from Fedorov (boy, I really want him to stay!!!!). Nicklas Backstrom got an assist on Semin's goal meaning he now holds the rookie assist record for the Capitals (1 better than Ovie!) Go Nicklas!

This night wasn't about Alex Ovechkin, who was held scoreless, but nevertheless, the MVP chants rang down at the phone booth. To those who said his team had to make the playoffs to be considered, well, how do you like this team & Ovie now?

Thank you Coach Bruce Boudreau. Everyone loves what you've done with this team. I know why your team in Hershey did so well and we're glad you're here now.

And, finally, my tribute to Olie Kolzig. In the season review the Caps played, they highlighted Olie's 300th win. He's a special and elite goalie, so congrats again Olie. The cheers of "O-lie" rang out loud. Thank you Olie.

Wow, the Caps now have home field advantage in the playoffs. How in the world did that happen? There are some injury issues (Brooks Laich, Jeff Schultz...ugh), but for one night, who cares. The Caps are in the playoffs and they just won the SE division.

Plus, there is more hockey for Caps fans coming's been way too long :)

Let's go Caps!

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