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Hey there, what’s left of the Washington Capitals’ fan base, don’t forget to give a big warm welcome to interim head coach Bruce Boudreau, who—last week—replaced former head coach Glen “Hugs” Hanlon after he was relieved of his duties. I’m only reminding everyone because it looked like none of you made it out for Boudreau’s D.C. debut against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night. In his post-game recap, the Washington Times’ Corey Masisak said 11,204 people were in attendance; I don’t know if Corey was there, but I sure as hell was, and I’d guess that that number is several thousand people too high—and at least a third of the crowd was cheering for Buffalo.
The other two-thirds of the crowd, meanwhile, didn’t have much to cheer for at all. Coming off of a modest winning streak—during which the Caps went 2-0 under their new coach, the first set of consecutive wins since the beginning of the season—the team had one of its most pathetic games of the season. (And, if you’ve watched the Caps at all this season, you know that’s saying a lot.) I guess you could cheer for Alexander Ovechkin’s highlight-reel goal, but that was also the only goal the team managed to score in the 3-1 loss. A few people might have cheered for the return of defenseman Steve Eminger—a once highly-touted prospect that has spent most of the season as a healthy scratch—but his performance was so poor that he’s already been benched for tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers. Really, the only reason to cheer was to drown out the cheers of Sabres fans. (Giving credit where credit is due: The meager crowd did manage to do so, thanks in no small part to the chant-raising efforts of the Horn Guy, aka Caps messageboard poster “SmileyPen.”)
The entire team—including Ovechkin—looked tired, as if it was playing its third game in four nights. Of course, the team was playing its third game in four nights, but the Caps need another excuse even less than they need another second-round draft pick. Constant turnovers. Boneheaded plays. Piss-poor passing. It was a truly painful experience, one that drew boos and jeers from the frustrated crowd. At one point, the team’s “Unleash the Fury” in-game video was played on the jumbotron; I responded with “Unleash the Futility” and received some sad laughter from those in my section. My friend—who I had convinced to come with me to the game—said, “[That] was the sorriest, saddest game I’ve attended in a long while.”
I’d have a hard time arguing with him. I asked him if he wanted a free ticket to tonight’s game as well. He declined. As has everyone else I’ve asked. I’ll be going alone. Maybe I’ll get a hot dog and drown the misery of being a Caps fan away in $7 Miller Lites. Go Caps.
Welcome to Washington, Mr. Boudreau. The word is that you’re a more vocal coach than your predecessor, and willing to lay into players whose performances are lacking. Please, for the love of God and all that is holy, unleash the motherfucking fury.