On the eve of the last game(s) to be played prior to the two-week break for the Olympics, Washingtonians need to put down their Washington Redskin mock draft selections, and pay attention to what’s going on with their hockey team. And based on TV ratings over the past month, apparently some are. But for those of you who haven’t yet, listen up.
Just a stone’s throw from the DC Metro suburbs, the NHL’s greatest player is playing for the NHL’s top team. Alexander Ovechkin, who is a fricken bull in a china shop on the ice, leads the league in both points and goals scored. His physical presence is second to none, especially for someone whose an offensive juggernaut. Wednesday night’s goal that wasn’t (that really was), in which it appeared Ovi took out the entire Montreal Canadian team in the process, was a perfect example of why you need to watch him and this team. We’re not sure DeAngelo Hall or Dirty Thirty laid as much wood all of last season, as Ovi did on that single play.
As a team, the Capitals lead the Eastern Conference in points and are tied with San Jose for most points in the entire league. And whether you’re checking out the occasional game at the Verizon Center, or you’re simply watching them on TV, it’s hard to argue the “most bang for your buck” theory, when it comes to this team.
For starters, its hard to find a person, regardless of their interest level in hockey, who will tell you they had a bad time, or weren’t impressed with the NHL game they actually went to see in person. And from the television viewing level, we’re not sure another professional sport has benefited more from the technological advance that is High Definition, than hockey has.
Granted, the Masters golf tournament is a little bit money in HD (we’re golf nerds, sorry), as are the NFL telecasts, which have always been great viewing, but hockey has definitely been the big winner in terms of High Def television. Very rarely will you be unable to follow the puck, the ice looks like a mirror on you’re TV- its so placid, and in Washington, you get the Joe Beninati experience.
For those of you not familiar with Joe Beninati, once you watch a couple or three Caps telecasts, you’ll wonder how the hell this dude isn’t working at a national level.
A consummate pro who is always aware of the clock, the players involved, line shifts, etc.-all while bouncing conversation off a complimentary Craig Laughlin, listening to Joe Beninati call a hockey game is simply a great sports viewing experience.
His tone and use of hockey vernacular, are constantly on pace with the fast moving game that he’s calling. Him and Laughlin, with sometime “sideline” or studio reporting by Al Koken, are as good as any broadcasting lineup Monday Night Football ever threw out there, and that includes the “Dandy” Don and Howard Cosell days.
As a lifelong Washingtonian and Cap “fan”, who remembers the Home Team Sports days of Mike Fornes and the before mentioned Koken, and who can still vividly remember staying up until almost 2 a.m. Easter Morning 1987, to watch the 4 overtime “Easter Epic” between the Caps and the Islanders, we’ll still take Beninati and crew 7 days a week, and twice on Tuesdays.
The Capitals are coming off back to back losses, following a 14 game winning streak, and are going to have to “clean up” their play on their end of the ice, in terms of defending and clearing the puck. Their F-bomb slinging and no nonsense head coach Bruce Boudreau has indicated that this will be the focus while practicing with the players who aren’t making the trip to Vancouver.
So if pitchers and catchers reporting doesn’t do it for you, or if you’re bummed because we’re still 5 weeks until the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament, then do yourself a favor and check out the Caps Saturday night on Comcast.
You’ll get one of the top teams in the league, with the best player in the league playing for them, with a top notch play by play and color crew working the telecast. And it’s in HD, baby.
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