Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rivalry Weekend: Caps Face Hated Penguins

So Hockey Mom sold her lovely club-level seats for today's battle against Cindy Crosby and his new and improved Penguins pals in anticipation that the boys' team would be playing for the League championship today. The good news is that their team won the regular season championship but the bad news is that they dropped the game after taking a pretty significant lead in the first period. The most disappointing part was that even though the opposing team had some incredibly talented kids on their team, some of their parents exhibited embarrassingly bad behavior in the stands. During our last game against this team, one guy ranted and raved at the refs to get a delay of game call as our coaches skated one our injured players (who suffered a broken collarbone for pete's sake) off the ice. Makes it really hard to wish a team well if those are the kinds of lessons and behaviors some kids' parents are teaching them (to win at at all costs). Now I get as fired up as anyone else but in the end I realize that it is just a game and the kids need to learn that you win some and lose some and sportsmanship is key on and off the ice.

So enough about that and onto the big news of the day which is the final regular season meeting of uber-rivals Capitals and Penguins. Fans and the media waited in anticipation to see how quickly the fireworks left over from the game would reignite into fisticuffs between Ovi and Crosby.

The boys in red definitely came back and played with the fever they've been missing the last few games and the hitting was off the charts. Tom Poti was dressed to help the defense, who've been fizzling as of late. And of course the Caps' faithful showed up in force, sporting pacifiers, Kleenex tissues and "No Diving" signs to express their dislike for the Penguin's famous Captain. Much to our dismay, it was Cindy that lit the lamp first for the dreaded Pens.

Alex Semin would have none of that and tied it up with a fabulous stick move made while balancing on one skate - another highlight reel goal for sure! His fellow countryman and former Capital Sergei Gonchar made his contribution to the physicality and intensity of this game, going to the sin bin twice in the first period alone for roughing and cross checking, respectively. But he emerged in the second period with a slap shot goal on Theo to give the Pens a 1-goal lead. New Penguin and former Islander Bill Guerin lit the lamp a third time for Pittsburgh, giving them a 2-point advantage.

The "Comeback Caps" did just that in the third with nearly back-to-back goals from Ovi and Brooks Laich to tie it at three each. And this one got even more exciting as we went into OT. Jose Theodore had some spectacular saves on both Crosby and Malkin yet despite having almost a 10 shots on goal advantage, the Caps were never able to "unleash the fury" as they did in the last meeting. This game was a heated battle until the bitter end and HM is shocked that there wasn't any throwing down the gloves, despite the exchanges of pleasantries following practically every whistle.

So this baby went into a shoot out - leaving Cap's fans at the edge of their seats. Semin, Kozlov and Ovi were all stopped at the gate by Pens' goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Theo then denied an attempt by shoot out wiz kid Kris Letang of the Penguins. But in the end, it was the highly disliked Sid the Kid who got the better of the Cap's net minder and won the game 4 - 3 for the visitors. Tough weekend for all of HM's teams - I feel like I need a Calgon moment.

Next up for the Capitals is a road game against the Nashville Predators - who recently schooled the Detroit Red Wings with a score of 8-0 (big ouch)!

In closing, Hockey Mom would also like to join hockey fans around the world in extending my condolences to one of the greatest hockey moms and ambassadors the game has ever known: Colleen Howe. The wife of Red Wings legend Gordie Howe (also known affectionately as "Mr. Hockey") passed away on Friday. Her contributions as a mom, wife, business woman, community activist and to the wonderful game of hockey, will never be forgotten.

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