Five minutes for reading: Notes on the Washington Capitals

It’s time to get excited again.

In just under two months, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will once again grace the sporting world with its presence. The Cup Playoffs are simultaneously dreadful, astonishing, exhilarating and can turn even the most sane people into a raging nutcase. And yet, we love it all the same.

The Washington Capitals, winners of everything but the Stanley Cup, are once again in the driver’s seat to win the President’s Trophy. But there’s really not an argument to the contrary anymore.

This is the best team of the Alex Ovechkin era. There won’t be a better chance for the Capitals to win the Cup. For a franchise as snakebitten as this one, that’s enough scare you into a pillow fort. But it’s time to believe.

Bye Bye Bye

The Capitals are officially on their NHL-mandated bye week. The team’s last game was Saturday, and they won’t hit the ice again until next Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.

Some of the player’s have already taken advantage of this rare week off, doing whatever they need to in order to get ready for the upcoming stretch run. Maybe a run that will last until June.

The Capitals just finished a stretch of 21 games in 42 days, so a long rest is in order for a team who just lost its second line winger, Andre Burakovsky.

Coach Barry Troz has said time and time again this season that he wants to manage the team’s ice time to keep fresher legs ready for April and May, and this bye week should help that.

The year?

The age old question surrounding the Washington Capitals:

Is this the year?

Seemingly every year, there’s a new reason to believe that this is, in fact, the Capitals turn. A new goalie, improved defense, more scoring depth have been cited for years as the team’s problems.

Well this year, the Capitals have all of those things. In fact, they’re fielding a team with no discernible weaknesses. Frankly, that scares the hell out of Caps fans.

Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga wrote a terrific column about how this is the year. Finally.

The Capitals have one of the best goalies in the league, the best team defense in the league by far and enough scoring depth with the likes of Pittsburgh and anyone else that might face the Caps.

It’s a game of razor thin margins, so all it takes is one hot goalie to put the Capitals on the couch for May. But there isn’t a team in the league that matches up to Washington. Well, on paper.

Bunches of fun

The Capitals scoring over the last month has been, well, stupid. There really isn’t another word for how much the Caps have been scoring.

Five Capitals have over 15 goals this year, and there’s a legitimate chance that seven players end up with over 20 goals. 10 players have already scored double digit goals this season.

Since the new year, the Capitals have scored 4.52 goals per game. That would be good for first by one whole goal per game. The Capitals now have three legitimate, talented scoring lines and it’s showing.

Off the Ice

The Capitals have also drawn some attention from their off the ice events.

Braden Holtby will wear a “You Can Play” themed mask on Feb. 24. You Can Play is an organization dedicated to equality in sports, regardless of gender of sexual orientation.

The Capitals also hosted Fatima Al Ali, a woman from the United Arab Emirates and a Capitals fanatic. She got to meet Alex Ovechkin and team and broke down in tears at the sight of everyone in the locker room.

She dropped the ceremonial puck at the Red Wings/Capitals game that night too.

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Legal murder

The Capitals are actually destroying their opponents right now. And really, it’s not close.

The Caps have lost just three times since Jan. 1 and just five of their wins since then have been by one goal. Meaning, in the 21 games since the new year, the Capitals have won 13 times by at least two goals.

The team is slowly creeping away with the President’s Trophy race, which would be the team’s third in eight years.

The run is not likely to continue, especially as the playoffs draw closer, but for now, there might not be a better, more dominant team in sports.

It’s OK to worry about playoff failures and past defeats, but for now, enjoy the ride. There hasn’t been one like it in Capitals history, and there might not ever be another stretch like this one.

Five minutes for fighting is a newsletter where NHL and Washington Capitals fans can gather to get storylines on the team. Come for the hockey commentary, stay for bad hockey puns. Not affiliated with the Washington Capitals or the National Hockey League. Not even a little bit.

7 Reason’s Why OU Athletics Will Not Be What You Are Expecting

Rufus fighingBrutus
Rufus fighting Brutus

Whether you’re signing on the dotted line of your Letter of Intent, or, as it is less glamorously referred to, if you are a “normal” student, not a student-athlete; submitting your nonrefundable deposit reserving your spot in the year’s freshmen class. It means the same thing either way. It means that you are committing to be a member of Ohio University and #BobcatNation for the next four….or five…or even six years as a student, and as an alumnus every year thereafter. Before doing so, there are a few things you should know. Most importantly, you should know that we are Bobcats, not Buckeyes. No matter how many times you say, “I go to Ohio University in Athens,” your family and friends will inevitably believe that what you are saying is that, “I go to Ohio State in Columbus.” This is a common misconception that sadly every Bobcat can relate to. Although both are public institutions just over 70 miles apart, a drive of less than two hours, the schools could not be more different in terms of culture, specifically sports culture. Case and point, Ohio University has strong athletic programs, but if you are looking for a Division I school where the entire student body spends the weekends at the athletic fields singing our fight song, “Stand Up And Cheer,” regrettably that is not something you will find at Ohio University. If a “sports school” is what you desire, Ohio University is not the school for you. Here’s 7 reasons why:

1  The marching band (The Marching 110) is more popular than the sports teams.

 

If you journey to Peden Stadium to watch Ohio football, you will probably see a fairly hardy crowd around 20,000 strong. Unfortunately though, that crowd that was once 20,000 strong will likely dwindle to a crowd of less than 10,000 after the Marching 110 has completed their halftime performance no matter how close the game may be. The reality is, sad as it may be; people come to see the famous Marching 110, not the football team, a tradition that has been in place for decades.

Free Shirt Friday Giveaway
Free Shirt Friday Giveaway

2  Free merchandise and free food giveaways can dictate student support of athletics.

Just as fans tend to only come out to sporting events to watch the band, fans, students in particular have a tendency to venture to Penden, the Convo and Bob Wren only with hopes of getting free gear or free food. After the giveaways, crowds usually shrink.

3  Students would rather buy beer than a hockey ticket.

2015-16 Ohio Men's Hockey Team
2015-16 Ohio Men’s Hockey Team

For all varsity sports student admission is free with a student ID. Club sports on the other hand require a $5 student fee because they are club sports and thus not university sponsored. Ohio hockey is a powerhouse program with four ACHA Men’s Division 1 National Championships over the last 20 seasons. When you have more than 25 home contests a season at $5 a person, it doesn’t matter how good the squad is, students are not willing to spend upwards of $125 to go to every hockey game when that same $125 can be used to cover weeks’ worth of bar tabs. Students would rather spend money on beer than sports tickets, plain and simple, it gives them more “bang for their buck.”

4  You need sports jerseys……but for parties, not sporting events on campus.


At Ohio University, the highlight of spring semester for most students is fest season. The coming of fest season means that for about a month, from mid-March- mid-April, there will be various street fests each weekend around town. At these fests you can expect two things. 1) Drunken debauchery and 2) A plethora of sports jerseys. The irony rests in the fact that all OU students act like huge sports fans when it is fest season, yet they won’t support the Bobcats at sporting events on campus.

5  Student-athletes are relatively unknown on campus.


At bigger Division 1 schools high profile student-athletes like a Johnny Manziel or a Cam Newton find themselves on Sports Center on a weekly basis and carry the status of a celebrity on their college campus. Other students routinely ask these future professional athletes for pictures and autographs alike. At Ohio, we don’t have that problem.  Our student-athletes are not fawned over by the rest of the student body. In fact some of Ohio’s best athletes go unnoticed as they walk up and down Court Street. Even 6’10, 260-pound forward Antonio Campbell, who was recently voted MAC Player-of-the Year, went unnoted by my two roommates as we passed him on the street walking to class earlier in the semester. How two self-proclaimed and knowledgeable sports fans did not recognize a 6’10 basketball star complete with a signature mustache as he passed them on the street, I do not know, but at Ohio, where sports aren’t a big deal…..it happens.

6  At Ohio, you are at the mercy of #MACtion.


Being an avid fan of the Mid-American Conference means two things. 1) Be prepared for the unpredictable. Where the best team in the MAC can either kill or be killed by the worst team in the MAC any given week in any sport. 2) Be prepared for inconvenient game times. As a member of the MAC teams are forced to play at times that are less than great for fans and athletes alike. MAC schedules are riddled with mid-week night games late in the season when the temperatures are blustery, balmy and bitter cold. Why? Because that is the only time ESPN will put a mid-major school like Ohio on national television. What can be done about this? Absolutely nothing. What is typically done though is that students do not attend the games. For some the weather scares them away, for others it is class and homework that prevents them from attending the event. Any way you look at it, #MACtion, as great as it can be hurts the Ohio athletics culture.

7  PLAYOFFS?!?!…….Mostly just a pipe dream for a MAC school.


Ohio athletics is fairly strong across the board it has seen success in all major sports fairly recently, it has seen professional athletes come through its programs as well. Despite all of the recent success’s the Bobcats have had on the athletic fields there is one thing that we must keep in mind. That is, we are a mid-major MAC school. This means that although we may have success, although we may make it to the post-season, we will never have certain athletic experiences like a “sports school” like Ohio State will have. An appearance in an historic game such as the College Football Playoff, the Men’s Basketball Final Four, the Men’s Hockey Frozen Four, among others just isn’t feasible for a smaller school like Ohio. For this reason, athletics aren’t as crazed here. Deep down, all Bobcats know, whether we want to admit it or not, we seldom if ever have the opportunity to play in the biggest game on the biggest stage.

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio Hockey Fans Convert from Land to Ice

Every time the Ohio Hockey team scores a goal, hockey super fans run a lap around Bird Arena, decked out in green, waving a hockey stick flag to rally the crowd.

This year, the hockey-crazed students who dub themselves Gang Green have gotten some help running these laps regardless of how well the Bobcats score that night.

“We now have a large group of children who follow us around the ice each game,” Thomas Fankhauser II, the president of Gang Green, said.

Fankhauser said the group adds another runner with each consecutive goal scored, which is only one of the many traditions passed down that Bobcat fans look forward to  while watching a game.

When at an Ohio Hockey game, expect a Gang Green instigated “YMCA” dance along with Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” in between periods. The songs are what Fankhauser considers fan favorites.

“It’s a different atmosphere,” Michael Lively, a junior studying communication studies, said. “You can go to every game at OU for free, but (at Bird Arena) it’s sold out every game.

Though a goalie for Division II Ohio Hockey, Lively said the team is usually in the stands supporting Division I and vice versa. Getting a little of both worlds as a spectator and a player, Lively said the crowds at DI games are “energetic” and “the good kind of crazy.”

The crowd, Gang Green included, does not hesitate to yell and scream whether it’s complimenting Ohio’s “sexy goalie” or screaming “ya jackass” at a bad call.

Players from opposing teams sometimes come up and ask the group to take it easy on them, which Fankhauser said gives him reassurance they should give those opposing players the special treatment in heckling and name calling.

Other times, away players come up after the game to thank the “hockey maniacs” for making Bird Arena for one of their favorite venues to play at.

“When we arrived to the Gang Green section of the arena there was a note written by Iowa State’s senior goalie for Gang Green detailing how he had always looked forward to their games here in Athens because of the playstyle demanded by our smaller ice and the atmosphere established by Gang Green,” Fankhauser, a senior studying classical civilizations with a minor in Latin, said. “It was touching to see how much of a positive influence we have, not only on our own players, but also those of the opposing teams.”

March With Us: The OU Artillery

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of dedication is “a feeling of very strong support for or loyalty to someone or something: the quality or state of being dedicated to a person, group, cause, etc.” If you take one look at the fans who support the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team, you will see just that. They are dedicated fans who spend countless hours cheering for their team, traveling hundreds of miles for games, and always fly their colors proudly.

Ohio University students can relate to this kind of dedication, which is why when the CBJ Artillery decided to branch out, they chose OU as one of three schools to partner with. “The OU Artillery was formed this year to spread the word and fan base for the Jackets,” said Ben Khan, a sophomore and founder of the OU Artillery.

5thline
Photo courtesy of bluejackets.com

The CBJ Artillery was created by a trio of Jackets fans which included OU alum, Jordan Mills. “The Artillery was created out of a passion for the Blue Jackets and with the goal of uniting our fan base as one, as well as giving fans a platform to share their fandom on a larger scale,” said Mills. Within the year of their creation, the concept of “We Are The 5ht Line” was born and everything grew from there. “We wanted to give fans an identity, something to belong to,” Mills said.

OUartillery
Photo courtesy of OU Artillery Twitter

The expansion to college campuses in Ohio gives fans even more of a voice. Khan approached the CBJ Artillery with the idea of continuing the support and letting fans bond over what they love. The OU Artillery was the first branch created, soon followed by Miami and Ohio State University. Even though these three schools do not have any current plans of getting together, they do have lots of fun events planned in their respective areas this season.

The OU Artillery plans to meet during the season at Buffalo Wild Wings on Union Street. “BW3’s has offered us space to host viewing parties,” Khan said, “it’s a place where you don’t have to be 21 to get in and we are also planning to hold watch parties on Tuesdays and Thursdays to go along with the specials.”  Events this month occur on the 20 and 27, which are both Tuesdays.

At these viewing parties, the group plans on watching the games, handing out freebies and 5th Line gear, and bonding over the team they love. “We really just want to spread the word and the fan-base for the Jackets,” Kahn said, “I love interacting with everyone. We are just a group of bobcats who love the Blue Jackets.”

“If you’re coming to a watch party, I want you to meet new people, watch hockey, and cheer on the Jackets – that simple,” Mills said.

Make sure you follow the OU Artillery on Twitter and Instagram and stay posted for more details on watch parties. Also, if you have any ides for future events or things you would like to see, comment below or tweet at the OU Artillery!