Monday, November 26, 2007

Gameday Preview: Caps vs Sabres

Who: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres
Where: Verizon Center
When: Monday, November 26, 7:00 pm

Broadcast Info: Versus, NHL Network (Canada); 3WT Radio; WGR550

Media Notes:
Caps' Website
Washington Post
Washington Times

The Caps have a chance tonight to prove they have in fact turned a corner when they take on the visiting Sabres, a team that has also experienced a recent resurgence. Like the Caps, the Sabres have performed well below offseason expectations and are only four points ahead of the Caps in the standings. While our boys have two straight wins under their belt, the Sabres are flying high with four straight over division rivals Ottawa and Montreal.

The last time these two teams met, the Caps blew a first period lead, allowing four straight goals in the second period en route to a 7-3 victory. Too many penalties, too many shots on goal, and too many turnovers gave the Caps just their second loss of the season (remember being over .500?). The Caps will look to use their revitalized power play and their more aggressive attack in all situations to make sure that doesn't happen again.

Two straight wins are nice and the return of offense is also great. The Caps have jumped out to three goal leads in both games, though, and almost given the game right back before finally finishing off their opponent. It would be nice to see them take a lead and hang on to it all the way through - shutouts, while always appreciated, aren't necessary. Just keeping a comfortable cushion would be great.

Tonight could also mark the return (for the third time...or was it the fourth?) of sniper Alexander Semin, who has been listed day to day and missed the last two games after tweaking his ankle yet again in practice last week. If Boudreau can find a spot for him that continues the offensive magic and power play dominance the Caps have displayed in their last two wins, this game has the potential to be explosive.

A Letter to Caps Fans

Dear fellow residents of DC, loyal supporters of the Washington Capitals and proud wearers of the red, white and blue:

As you all are aware, there are certain games that tend to bring out a fair number of the opposition's fans. We know them, we love them, we circle them on our calendars: among them are Pittsburgh games, Rangers games, and yes, visits from the Buffalo Sabres. These games are always extra boisterous and fun because there is that constant clash in the stands that takes it to another level. It's wonderful that these teams have such passionate, vocal fanbases and we welcome them to spend their hard-earned money on our team anytime.

As I'm sure you are also aware, these fans have a tendency to vocalize their support for their team in the form of chants - in this case, the somewhat head-scratching "Let's Go Buffalo" chant seems to be pretty popular. And again, that's great. Cheering for your own team regardless of where they may be playing is part of sports and a sign of true fandom.

The trouble starts when the chant becomes the loudest sound in the arena, the clarion call for all opposition fans to join in and have their cheer echo through our building. And the natural instinct by the hometown crowd is to boo in an attempt to cover it up.

Caps fans...please do not boo.

I've never understood this phenomenon. The sound of booing is an ugly sound and should be reserved for only the ugliest of situations (i.e., Jaromir Jagr touching the puck). I get that we want to drown out the sound of enemy chants and believe me, I'm all for it. But why boo?

Instead of voicing our displeasure with the opponent's fans, we should use our voices to support our own team. Nothing is more effective for drowning out the other team than starting up a cheer for our valiant boys that far outweighs theirs. A little "Let's Go Caps" goes a long way. The old school "Let's Go Capitals" would also suffice. Heck, even a Canadian-inspired "Go Caps Go" would work.

And you don't have to wait for the Horn Guy or Goat to get the cheer going - start your own. Be brave, stand up, and lead your section in the most beautiful sound there is. The team probably does not know why you're booing but they recognize the cheers of their faithful fans and you can bet it lifts them up.

On opening night the building was bouncing with energy; the chants were loud, proud, and constant. Olie even remarked that it sounded like what playoff games used to sound like - so they can hear us, folks, and they feed off the energy. Let's try and bring that energy every night, positive energy, starting with tonight's thrilling showdown.


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