Sunday, April 29, 2007

Way Down South

Let's see, I've talked about our buddies in the Northeast Division. I've gushed about my love for the Atlantic Division. I guess that just leaves...

...ah, yes. The Southeast Division:

Florida Panthers - Of all the Southeast Division teams, Florida probably draws the least amount of ire among the Caps faithful. That may be changing if the Cats continue to beat up on the Caps, a disturbing trend over the last two years, but even those games have been for the most part mind-numbingly boring. They may not have Luongo anymore but the fact that they have Ed "the Balding, Drunken Eagle" Belfour doesn't help their case too much. Given his age and penchant for being stun-gunned, even his tenure in the Sunshine State may not last too much longer. Bottom line? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Tampa Bay Lightning - I find myself both equally repulsed by and enamored of the Lightning. On the one hand, having missed the one postseason matchup between the Caps and Bolts I probably don't harbor the same resentment towards the bolts as others. I also admit to being a fan of one Vincent Lecavalier (and feel free to rant and whine all you want, he's a damn good hockey player). On the other...well, their coach is certifiably insane, they insist on playing 3 players until they fall down from exhaustion, and their captain is a tool (man). So, tough call. I may need another 8 games to make up my mind.

Carolina Hurricanes - For whatever reason, the league and/or the scheduling gods seem to be trying to shove this rivalry down our throats. Two years straight we've had to play the 'Canes multiple times over short periods, creating mini-playoff series that have been anywhere from boring to great. Whether their little plot has worked or not remains to be seen, but I don't think many Caps fans were shedding too many tears when the 'Canes found themselves outside the playoffs looking in this year. Schadenfreude aside, there are any number of players in the red, white and black with the ability to get under the skin of DC residents, so stay tuned.

Atlanta Thrashers - Once again, I'm saving the best for last. This has been an interesting rivalry to watch, particularly in the post-lockout era. Many of the Caps have expressed their hatred of the Thrash, and let's face it, every good rivalry has to have the hate both in the stands and on the ice. We can all point to that infamous throwdown back in November and the ensuing hype for a graphic illustration of how much Atlanta is hated around here, but I think it goes back at least to the beginning of last season. There just isn't much respect among Caps fans for the team itself or the way Hartley coaches.


So there you are - hatred up and down the East Coast. Doesn't it give you a warm, fuzzy feeling to see it all spelled out?

It's interesting looking over the Southeast Division, the division with which we are supposed to have the strongest rivalries, one key thing seems to be missing - the fans. It's what makes the battles with the Penguins, the Flyers, even the Sabres, go from just another hockey game to all out war. When you're battling on the ice and in the stands, it just takes things to another level. The atmosphere is electric and hopefully it's something that, in time, we'll start to see develop below the Mason-Dixon line.

Because if we're going to be stuck playing these guys 8 times a year, I want a recognizable group in the stands each time that I can aim my beer at.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

5 comments:

hockeygirl said...

I'm really glad you're taking the time to do all these. It gives me a good idea of which teams I should like (the Caps) and which teams I shouldn't (the rest).

But Vinny... Who doesn't like him?

Elly said...

I had no idea that there was a forced Canes/Caps rivalry being shoved down your throat. Shows what I know, eh?

I agree with your assessment of the southern-most teams in general: they lack a bit of spirit. Sure, this doesn't go for all of their fans (we've got some great represenatives at HLOG), but it seems as though in general that they are a bit more tame than the ones in the north. I think probably climate and growing up playing hockey in school and such adds to that. I know I'm not a huge fan of NASCAR (although the rest of my state seems to be. sigh).

HG: Um....I don't particularly care for him? It's not that I don't like him, he's one hell of a player, and I enjoy watching him on the ice...it's just that whenever I get a chance to see him, he's usually beating the piss out of the Penguins with Mighty Mouse. I'd like him a lot more if he left Tampa Bay.

The Acid Queen said...

See, my thing with the Capitals is that I loathe the team (except Ovechkin and Gordon--well OK, and Kolzig), but I get along great with the fans because after the game I can talk about the Redskins with most of 'em.

Not a big fan of the scheduling, though. Artificially-created rivalries blow. It'll take time and either multiple playoff contests OR one really smokin' super-acrimonious blood-and-guts-filled playoff round to create any kind of rivalry between any of the SE teams.

CapsChick said...

HG: Just another public service I provide for all of you...otherwise you'd go around rooting for other teams in the East, and we can't have that! Oh, and I promise you there are many Caps fans who hate Vinny. MANY.

Elly: I may be oversimplifying a bit to say they're shoving a Caps-Canes rivalry at us, but it certainly seems that way. As for the SE fans, I've seen some diehards just like every other team - they just don't make the trek as often (which I guess I shouldn't really mind), although the Caniacs have been increasing in number over the past year or two.

AQ: Exactly. You hate the team but not really the fans...at least not yet. :) I do think a playoff series between the Caps and Canes would be a great one and would cement the rivalry a little more, definitely more than these 3 games in a week things they've been trying to pull lately.

And yay Gordo! I'm so happy other people know about him, he's the man.

WFY said...

Perhaps some playoff series will teach me to hate SE opponents, but I can't get fired up for them. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that none of the cities except for Atlanta (maybe) is D.C.'s peer. Philly, NYC (including NJ and LI) are all naturally rivals. I can get excited about playing those teams in anything. Raleigh? Tampa Bay? Who cares?