Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Some Laughs, A Little Carnage, A Little Mayhem

[A little cross-posting action going on - I put this on my blog but thought it might be interesting over here, too.]

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!


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 Capitals' message boards...is it too much to ask for a little mayhem and carnage?


hockeygirl said...

I enjoy those games with the bumps and hits (clean, of course) that get each team riled up and passionate. You do need a little carnage and mayhem every once in a while or else it's a snooze-fest.

Jordi said...

Wait there was a full on brawl? I wanna see!

I love seeing teams get heated and go nuts, but at the same time I don't want anyone hurt. I guess that's why I still like the fights where both enforcers agree to fight before dropping the gloves instead of "you hit my linemate!" "oh no you didn't!" "you going down biiatch!"

Heather B. said...

I definitely think the fans are going to be more riled up than the players. Lindy seems to keep a tight leash on them. There might be some extra elbows and bumping as skaters pass, a little more hitting, but I don't think there's going to be anything major. We're not a very big team so fighting's not really something we do unless we need to :-)

That said, you might want to make sure Ovie keeps his head up when he's in front of Brian Campbell. Soupy won't pull himself out of a play to hit someone and he won't be dirty about it, but if the hit is there, he'll take it. And when he decides he's going to hit someone, woo, look out. He'll let loose with 2 or 3 hits a year that are just mind-blowing especially since he's not a particularly big guy.

Slightly off-topic, my husband has let go of his Ovie/Caps hate. He heard Ovie say he felt bad and hoped Danny was feeling okay and that made him happy. He was also impressed that your coach (whose name I'm sad to say I can't remember) said that if the roles were reversed he'd feel the same way and he totally understood why Lindy, the players, and the fans reacted the way they did. That is pretty classy.

So thankfully I can go on loving Ovie without sacrificing my marriage :-) Whew!

Rebecca said...

Glad your marriage has been saved, Heather! Incidentally, the coach's name is Glen Hanlon and he is classy - he's awesome, and absolutely the best fit as coach for this team. Of course, any guy who would flap his arms like a chicken at another coach (Atlanta's Bob Hartley...grrr) is okay in my book!

And I'm not too concerned about Ovie getting hit - he actually likes it, and he'll tell that to the player who hit him right there on the ice.

Yeah, he's a bit of a nut. That's why I love him.

Jordi: if you're asking about the full on brawl I talked about between Ottawa and Philly, go immediately to YouTube and type in Ottawa Philadelphia or Senators Flyers - there's tons of video on it, and it is truly incredible. A must-see for any hockey fight fan, complete with chaos and the ever popular goalie fight!