Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Damn Dirty Birds

Usually I can wake up the morning after a loss and start looking at the positive things, the silver lining – that is, after all, my specialty. The most painful losses become learning experiences with the fresh eyes of dawn.

Not today.

No, my friends, today I choose bitterness and anger. Because that wasn’t just a loss to the Penguins...it wasn’t even just a loss to the Penguins with 8-9,000 of their closest friends in our building. It was a loss to the Penguins with 8-9,000 of their closest friends in our building on national television after dominating for the first half and jumping out to a 4 goal lead before losing...in a shootout.

I think the most frustrating part of last night’s result is the fact that the Caps actually dominated for the first half of the game and didn’t really play all that badly for the remaining half. They even managed to essentially shut down both Crosby and Malkin for the majority of the game. Forget the fact that each of them had a goal and an assist – every other time they had the puck it seemed like a Caps defenseman was on them immediately, making a great poke check or disrupting a pass.

That damn second period, though – it even started out okay, with the Caps scoring 2 quick goals for a seemingly unbeatable 4-0 lead. Unbeatable unless you’re playing the Caps, that is. Suddenly it’s 4-1...then 4-2, 4-3. Olie looks much smaller in net and Caps fans are starting to get nervous. That of course results in Penguins fans acting like themselves, getting bolder and more obnoxious with each goal.

Which brings me to my favorite and least favorite topic all wrapped up in one - mulleted, ugly-jersey wearing, jams-sporting, beer-drinking Penguins fans. You think it’s a stereotype, but then you see them and you know it barely begins to describe this phenomenon. And what is it about all fans from Pennsylvania that they can’t seem to figure out what sport they’re watching? I’m sorry, but if I have to hear “Let’s Go Steelers” or “E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!” at another hockey or baseball game I’m going to lose it.

By the way, why is it that when the other team’s fans start chanting we can’t seem to be able to out yell them? When fans start a “Let’s Go Pens” chant, the best thing to do is yell “Let’s Go Caps” as loud as possible, drown them out...but there we were, my sister, my roommate and I, yelling like morons – and people were staring at us like we were, well, morons. It’s a hockey game, people, not a symphony. You don’t have to wait for the organ to prompt you, or Goat or the Horn Guy; you are allowed to cheer on your own. Sheesh.

But I digress.

Back to last night – my section was pretty evenly split between Caps fans and Penguins fans, which is nothing unusual. All of a sudden a fight breaks out right there in the seats, and as quickly as that one is broken up it erupts again. Security comes in, people are ejected...and yet another fight starts a few rows back. Luckily everything cooled down and someone even texted a message to the screen between periods 2 and 3 that you might have seen: "Section 417 Can't we all just get along". I'll admit it though; I was nervous for a while – because as much as I love seeing fights on the ice, fights in the stands terrify me. It doesn’t happen all that often, especially at Caps games, but that’s the effect of evil Penguins fans in our building. They make otherwise mild-mannered Caps fans act like idiots. And I’m not excusing the action of the Caps fans, because they were there too; but when was the last time that happened against the Thrashers? Anyone?

Now that I’ve ranted and rambled a bit I feel I am finally able to end this on a positive note. After all, there was some good in all of this. Sure, they blew a lead...again. And Olie maybe wasn’t as sharp as he’s been these past few weeks. But the Caps managed to get a point and remain ahead of the Penguins in the standings, moving into 7th place. Clark put together an excellent game, with 2 goals and an assist. Ovie got 2 assists and finally, finally scored a shootout goal and you could see the relief in his celebration. Gordon played what I thought was one of his best games of the season, as did Laich – so close to the Gordie Howe hat trick, by the way; just missing that helper.

So we are humbled just a bit and we move on. Another evil team waits for us in the wings and the Caps have a nice long rest to think about what needs to change before they make their way to big bad Atlanta. The Caps and Penguins don’t meet until February, and the Pens don’t return to Verizon until March.

I think we’ll be ready for them.


FS said...

I wouldn't say there were 8-9k Pens fans. Attendance was right around 16K, and there's no way that the stadium was 1/3 Penguins fans, so I'm going to say that there were at most 5,000. It may have been worse upstairs, but in the lower bowl, the number of Penguins fans were isolated to small pockets around section 114 and section 116. There were exactly 2 penguins fans in my section, and they got tossed in the second period.

CapsChick said...

I don't know, it looked like more than 16,000 to me. And at least a third of the upper bowl was made up of Pittsburgh fans. The back of each section seemed to be all yellow and black.

Still, you may be right, it could be closer to 5 or 6,000 - what is it about Pens/Flyers/Rangers fans that each one of them feels like 10? They're just so obnoxious...

Victor said...

That's interesting. On the way to the car, my gf's mother commented the birds fans seemed to have calmed down. I remarked it may be the price of the ticket (section 113) keeping the a-holes away from our area, but she said that didn't stop anybody when they were in section 109 at the Cap Centre. I'll have to let her know about this, though I kinda hate to burst her bubble.

We had a couple of them scattered about our section, and they were, for the most part, well behaved if enthusiastically cheering for the flightless foul.

CapsChick said...

There were definitely more of them up in our section and the sections around us. I guess it's good that you guys down below couldn't really tell, but there were a lot of Pens fans up top. (of course, there were fewer after the first period - getting ejected tends to thin the masses.)

I bet the cost really did have something to do with it - it didn't stop them at the Caps Centre, but tickets were cheaper and their team was better. And as good as Crosby and Malkin are, it's probably still not enough to bring them down in groups as large on a Monday night.

Biff said...

I'm sorry to hear about the fights. Section 417 is my favorite place to sit, usually.

FS said...

Official attendance came in at 14,793, and that doesn't include no-shows.

So even if it was 1/3 pens fans, it was under 5K

Tyler said...

At least a third? Nah. Maybe 1,500 Pens fans. 2,000 tops. The rest probably got lost because they couldn't read the highway signs/Metro signs/etc.

I'm reading the new Carnegie bio and it points out that Pittsburgh peaked around 1900. That's over a hundred years ago. Ahem.

CapsChick said...

Alright, I think we've established that I am a horrible judge of numbers. Therefore I will put up this disclaimer - take my numeric figures with a grain of salt. In my eyes when I don't see huge patches of purple anywhere (aside from the Club seats) I assume it's a near sell-out.

Maybe it was just my section - it was definitely half Penguins fans.

And of course we know Pittsburgh is no longer the shining star of industry it once was...100 years ago...that's why they all live here!

FS said...

As some of my friends from the steel city say, "Pittsburgh. It's a great city to be from."

And I think one needs more than one grain of salt to go with your numbers . :p