Thursday, October 05, 2006

Smell the Ice

This is the time of year that my fellow bloggers and the distinguished members of the press are doing their season previews - picking the final conference standings, reviewing offseason moves, grading the team based on preseason performance, etc. I'm going to skip this ritual fortune-telling, partly because I can hardly try to make a prediction based on the two preseason games and one day at training camp that I have attended and partly because everything that could be said has already been said, either here or by someone more qualified than me. Take for example the Post's Keys to the's a much more thorough and well-written recap than anything I could spew out at this point.

So instead, if I may, I'd like to get a little poetic and talk about why I love hockey...

Hockey is my relaxation, my happy place. Some people do yoga - I yell at hockey players. I love to just sit and watch the players skate; I love the sound of sharpened blades slicing through a fresh sheet of ice, the smack of the puck when it hits a stick, the muffled thud when a goalie makes a pad save. I love hearing the players bark at each other on the ice. I love watching the celebration on the bench after a goal is scored, and my heart breaks with each one of them when they lose the big game.

I take great pleasure in booing players I hate, cheering for players I love, and watching the next rookie phenom take the ice for the first time. I hold my breath during overtime, while my team is shorthanded, and when they have the lead with one minute left in a game. I mutter about how shootouts aren't really hockey and shouldn't determine the outcome of a game, yet stand in hushed anticipation as each shooter takes his turn.

My love for the game takes me to the cusp of another year, another 82 games of surprises and heartaches. We once again have a group of gritty, hard-working guys with a few flashes of brilliance thrown in - exactly the type of team we always love here in DC. I'm still not sure where they'll end up in April. They could be right in the thick of a playoff fight or they could once again be lined up for a top five draft pick. Either way, it'll be good to get back to the Phone Booth and watch it unfold, whatever "it" is. Not knowing is half the fun of being a sports fan in the first place - what excitement would be found if you knew before a single game was played that the Caps would win the Cup?

Okay, a little excitement maybe, but I'm telling you it's better this way...

We have a lot to look forward to this year. We have players looking to top career seasons, players looking to make their mark, and players trying to score "The Goal - Part 2". We have a team that, after winning 29 games last season, fully expects to contend for the postseason.

There are so many highlights to come - opening night is tomorrow night (see my gameday preview below) then we have the home opener against the Cup champs this Saturday. Jeff Halpern makes his hometown return in November when Dallas comes to town, and the Penguins will again make two appearances, bringing their new boy wonder Malkin along with our good buddy Sid the Kid for a next generation throwdown. All-Star festivities return in January, and I'm hoping they bring back the East-West format...can you imagine seeing Ovie and Crosby on a line together?

And let's not forget the handful of games on national TV. Oh, wait. That's not a highlight, that sucks. Three games? Really? The NHL schedulers can kiss my...

Ahem. Moving on.

So there you have it - the 2006-2007 preview, DCCapsChick style. It's a long season and there will be lots to talk about down the road. There's plenty of time to be pissed at players, coaches, the media; plenty of time for predictions, analysis, frustration, joy, tears.

For now, though, I encourage everyone to stop, breathe deep, and smell the we go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome thoughts on hockey and a game preview. Hockey is much better live, but it's still great on TV. And how cool would an OZZ line be for the Caps?

How long until face-off? :-)