Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Few Laughs, Some Mayhem, Some Carnage

We’ve seen it happen so much over the last two seasons – there’s a hit, a scuffle, a brawl ensues, line after line goes to the penalty box or the locker room, the ice is littered with gloves and other equipment...

Suddenly fans from both towns are frantically looking at their calendars, seeking out that inevitable rematch. Dates are circled in red. Tickets are purchased in bulk. The message boards virtually explode with fans talking trash about the other team, their fans, their uniforms – anything to get the bile flowing and the adrenalin pumping. We’re all thinking that obviously after such a hate-filled, intense, boxing match-like atmosphere, the next game is going to be nuts...there won’t be a player left on the ice!

...right?

It’s something that has obviously been on a lot of Caps fans’ minds lately, I’m sure. In the next two to three weeks the Capitals will visit Atlanta and Buffalo – one team that the Caps hate, one team that hates the Caps. Common sense tells us that these two games will be filled with fighting majors and followed up with possible suspensions and fines.

And yet in recent years, the actual odds of such a thing happening in reality have diminished. Take for example the faux playoff series between the Caps and the Canes that closed out last season. They met 5 times in 2 weeks – the first two games were fairly calm, but by game 3 it looked like things were starting to ramp up. There were 4 fights spread throughout the game and lots of chippy, physical play - a natural outgrowth of seeing each other far too many times in such a close period.

We all expected game 4 to be a big one, we waited expectantly for fights to erupt, and then...nothing. Nada. Zilch. Game 5, more of the same. Close games, both one goal affairs, but nothing out of the ordinary on the penalty sheet. Clearly the NHL spoke to both teams and told them to cool it or else...makes sense, since the whole reason for the tensions can be traced back to such a weird schedule created by the NHL.

To cut back on fighting, pit the same teams against each other every night for two weeks – brilliant!

But it’s not just in the ‘new’ NHL – I’m sure you all remember that infamous game between Ottawa and Philadelphia back in ’04. A record 419 penalty minutes were handed out as every line on the ice fought, including the goalies. By the end of the game, there were maybe 4 or 5 players on each bench. Everyone was certain that the next game would be the same way, but alas, it was not to be. Maybe it was because there was a month in between games, maybe the NHL stepped in there, too...I don’t know.

It just makes me wonder if the animosity that seems to carry over from game to game isn’t felt more strongly in the stands than it is in the locker rooms. I certainly hope not – it’s not that I want to see fighting every night, especially at the extreme level that some are predicting for these upcoming games. I just want to see a little passion, a little momentum – he hit your guy, now you go hit their guy...that’s hockey. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Until then I’ll hope for the best, so get out those red pens – December 15th, Caps visit the Thrashers. December 26th, Caps in Buffalo. To quote the message boards...is it too much to ask for a little mayhem and carnage?

5 comments:

FS said...

If Dale were still around, it wouldn't be a matter of "if" but rather a matter of "when"

CapsChick said...

Huntsy...he was awesome. We do have Brashear and Erskine, so something could happen.

Of course, Brashear was also on that 2004 Flyers team so who the hell knows anymore.

FS said...

At this stage in his career, Brashear seems content to let the Mayhem and Carnage come to him. Hunter on the other hand would pout if there was a scrum on the ice and he wasn't out there.

Victor said...

Nice little analysis...and upon thinking about what you wrote, you're right.

Still--I've got those dates circled, along with next Monday. Ovie & Semin vs Malkin & The Capt. of the Canuckian Diving Team. All that talent, in one rink, should make for some unbelievable hockey.

Found my way here via DCSportsChick. *Love* the picture of the dove--I was at that game, too!

CapsChick said...

I am so going to be there Monday night - as much as I hate them (just on principle), I'm excited to see Cry-Baby and Malkin. You're right, it's an incredible amount of talent.

With the defense of these two teams, I predict a high-scoring game.

Maybe Gonchar will even score a few...on his own net...