For me, one of the best things about being a hockey fan is going to away games. You get to support your team on the road, see what it is like at other arenas, and of course have a mini-vacation out of it (if you are able to). I personally like seeing how other team's game day experiences are like. Some do it really well - like Nashville - while others - RIP Atlanta - weren't that good.
I was fortunate to be asked if I wanted to go to the Caps home opener against our Canes on Saturday, October 8. The Canes would lose 4-3 in Overtime, but I learned although we love to make fun of Caps "Fans" and their bandwagon nature, the Verizon Center is a pretty good venue to watch a hockey game.
A few things that I took note of at the Verizon Center. First, unlike the RBC Center their is not a metal detector, there aren't camera restrictions, and they only really check your bags. This surprised me being in the nation's capital. Sometimes I think the RBC Center has a lot more security than other arenas, I've been to. (Columbus, Nashville, Atlanta, and now Washington.) (I'm not sure how security is at the new arena in Pittsburgh).
Speaking of cameras, with the RBC Center size restrictions in mind, I wasn't sure what to bring. I took my trusty Canon Rebel XSI, but only by 55-200mm lens. I usually have a wide angle lens but after being told in Charlotte that I can't bring my camera bag with extra lens with me - I just took the camera. But at the Verizon Center - you had folks with attached flash and more professional type lens.
And speaking of photos, my set from the game (233 photos in all) is over at flickr. Or you can just make the jump for a handful with commentary. :-p
Verizon Center is in the heart of Washington, and so there isn't much room for an outside fan pre-game experience like we have in Raleigh. However, the Capitals do try to make up for it.
Outside the H Street Entrance - a local High School pep band performs. Now maybe, it's just the High School and College Marching Band in me, but there's nothing better than the sound of horns playing tunes to pump you up prior to a game.
The Caps also had two folks walking around, dancing, and greeting the fans --- on stilts. The girl on stilts was fun and friendly. The guy on stilts was fun and friendly, too, but had an odd resemblance to 'The Joker'.
So let's head inside for warmup's. Where we sat was the end where the Canes shoot twice, but where the Caps warm-up. Now I have plenty of photos of Canes but not a lot of Capitals - so apologies in advance for photos of Capitals during warm-ups. I did find the difference in Caps fans during warm-ups compared to our fans very interesting.
First, they don't make a lot of signs. Really there were only maybe three or four signs. And they weren't very original.
Speaking of Matt Hendricks...let's play make a caption!
One thing I liked at the end of warm-ups. Ovechkin, Mike Green, Backstrom and Semin stick around for the last 90 or so seconds and work on one-timers, deflections, and re-directs. This 'performance' got a round of applause from the Caps fans down or warm-ups. Just something neat I thought.
The Caps had a very low key pre-game. Unlike the Canes home opener the night before, they didn't introduce the players individually. They were might proud of winning the Winter Classic over Pittsburgh and their four straight Southeast Division Championships. A guy tried to heckle me about it. Caps Fan: "When was the last time you won the Southeast Division?" Me: "When was the last time you made it to the third round of the playoffs?" Caps Fan, chuckling: "You got me there!"
So let's get to the game and a handful of photos that I liked.
Justin Faulk is trying to skate through a first period check my Matt Hendricks....but who is that behind the glass? None other than, Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak, a Caps season ticket holder. He doesn't seem to be phased by the hit one bit.
Ruutu and Tomas Kaberle having a conversation during a second period faceoff. Imagine this conversation, if you will. Kaberle: "Hey, we're a palindrone!" Ruutu: "Do you mind getting your head into the game here?"
In my best John Forslund voice, "You are looking at Brian Boucher."
I really wonder who these two young Caps fans favorite player is.
The Caps celebrate taking at 2-1 second period lead as Tuomo Ruutu skates back to the Canes bench.
Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth before the start of the third period.
This is my favorite...Ruutu, unknown Cap, and Jeff Schultz battle during a faceoff.
Remember the girls that welcomed Caps fans back home during warm-ups. Well they also want to remind you that the Caps are on the Power Play.
And of course the Caps score...this made it 3-2 Caps...Staal and Harrison aren't happy. But Jokinen would tie it. Unfortunately, with the netminder pulled and frantic play in our end leading up to the tying goal. I was more into the game than the photos. THe sequence of Jokinen scoring the tying goal all came out blurry.
Hope ya'll enjoyed it, and if the masses - and powers that be - are ok. I'll have fan posts from hopefully three more away games this year. Nashville, Columbus and Detroit. Hopefully, we''ll be able to go to all three.