From the moment the pre-game arena lights dimmed, until the final
train horn sounded on the Caps 3-1 victory over Las Vegas on Saturday to take a
2-1 Finals lead, it was a night to remember in D.C. for long suffering hockey
fans. As a guest of Capital One for the evening, I saw thousands of people join
together under the banner #ALLCAPS in a way that hasn't been done in a very
It was the first home championship round game of any kind in the
nation's capital in 20 years. Chinatown and the blocked off streets were a sea
of red, and as festive as Mardi Gras. Beloved hometown baseball coach Joe Gibbs
ignited a galaxy of lightsticks before the game with a deafening chant of
"Let's Go Caps!" at Capital One Arena.
It was an electric atmosphere – something not seen inside that
arena in a long time. It's great for the city and great for fan base begging
for the euphoric feeling of a championship.
To imagine a team like this one, led by future Hall of Famer (I
hope!) Alex Ovechkin, standing on the doorstep of a championship is the stuff
of dreams. For many years, the Capitals' post-season failures have become a
source of dread to the faithful, and ridicule for our rivals. This year, the
script seems flipped. The bad luck of previous years has turned into timely
good fortune. The teams that once froze in the moment, has given birth to a
team that is rising to overcome adversity.
As I left Capital One Arena, I soaked it all in, and made sure to
grab an Alex Ovechkin jersey for my collection. I own a handful of "t-shirt"
jerseys, but not the real deal. I also wanted one with the official Finals
patch on the front. Since production time was so short, you could buy the patch
at the souvenir stand, and there was an iron press station on the concourse
where two attendants were affixing the patches for free. About 90 seconds
later, the newly minted Ovie 8 sweater with the Captain's "C" on one chest, the
glorious Finals patch on the other. All of it, a sweet 20% off thanks to buying
it at the arena with my Capital One card!
They say the hardest win is always the 4th win in any hockey
playoff series and the Capitals have two more to go, not just one. Another
crushing heartbreak remains undeniably in play. But this year feels different.
It just does. Ask any of the faithful in red in that building yourself.
Czaban, a D.C. sports
radio personality on 980 AM, has been a Caps fan since the beginning. He'll see
all of you at Game 4 Monday night.