A Great Capitals Outdoor Watch Party Despite Some Glitches

When the Washington Capitals announced they would have an outdoor watch party for the banner raising ceremony, I was thrilled. I would get to begin the season right where last season ended. Between the Rock the Red carpet and the game itself, the pregame atmosphere was exactly as one would expect it to be. The streets were lit. In this piece I’ll weigh in on the pros and cons of what it was like outside Capital One Arena. Moral of the story is buy season tickets so you can be inside. The second moral is to be grateful. 

I would say the best part about having another outdoor watch party was it accommodated the fans who couldn’t afford a ticket inside the arena to watch the Stanley Cup banner raising ceremony.

Another part that was cool was that it wasn’t as crowded as it was during the Stanley Cup Finals which meant fans could move around and watch the game from whatever vantage point they liked. It also made it much easier to maneuver if one wanted to go to the bathroom, grab a bite to eat or a drink. When I went to Games 3 and 5 of the Finals, it was so crowded you could barely even move!

Nevertheless there was a bit of room for improvement. For starters, the game was shown on just one screen: the video screen on Capital One Arena above the McDonald’s that you can see from G Street. Knowing from the announcement that the Caps released, myself and two buddies were stationed at the proper location but it made me wonder how much of an issue it would’ve been for fans who weren’t aware that the game would be shown on just one screen.

During the Finals, there were two additional screens that showed the game on G Street that were positioned along the National Portrait Gallery, making it easy for fans to catch the game. Those screens weren’t there this time around.

Another early issue was the sound and the feed. During the ceremony, they showed the video that you would see from the Jumbotron inside Capital One Arena. That was totally OK while the waterworks were flowing as the Stanley Cup banner rose to the rafters. Only issue was they didn’t switch it to the NBC feed right away when the puck dropped.

There was almost a sense of de ja vu shortly after the game began. My friends and I celebrated like crazy when we saw T.J. Oshie light the lamp 24 seconds into the game. It was meant to be that Oshie scored the first Capitals goal of the season since he was the one responsible for instilling “back to back” thoughts in our heads when he started the “back to back” chants at the parade.

It was a strange goal though. My buddies and I were among the few who celebrated. As soon as that goal happened the game was paused and that’s when we’ve noticed they were switching the feed from Monumental to NBC Sports Network. We were wondering if Oshie’s goal counted in the first place then realized there was a tape delay. The whole crowd went crazy when they saw it on NBCSN’s feed which was identical to what we initially saw.

Another issue that made it tough to follow the action was that we could barely hear the game sound. Not to take away from the local street artists, you guys kill it and you do you! But the noise from the music was loud so that was a factor. At the end of the first period, my friends and I got some food and relaxed at a nearby bar so we can better hear the feed and follow the action. The Caps were leading 2-0 at that point with Evgeny Kuznetsov adding a power play goal a minute and 23 seconds later.

The Caps poured on the goals in the second period with four more with Alex Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, new guy Nic Dowd, and John Carlson lighting it up. It was around the scoring barrage that we came out. What we observed was that many fans had left. My guess was they either headed home or realized the city wasn’t packed like it was during the finals and decided to use their patronage at one of the Chinatown bars. With the prices of beer inside the arena, I don’t blame them one bit! Though I can’t wait to try out the self-pouring beer stations during my birthday next month but that’s a topic for another day.

Nevertheless despite those small mishaps, I was just grateful to be there. . I was grateful to be with two buddies of mine and celebrate last season’s magical Stanley Cup run one last time before we invest our energy on this Caps team with hopes they’ll do it again. In the end, the experiences you create with people is what matters the most. It’s about making the best of situations instead of complaining and looking at only the negatives. Overall, it was a great Opening Night and still a fun night downtown. The Capitals also won 7-0 so that made it icing on the cake.

Now we turn our attention to the game tonight as the Capitals and Penguins renew a rivalry that will only be more intense now that we have a Cup to call our own. Other than that, I’m very happy that next time I am in D.C. during a Caps game I will be right where I belong… In the stands cheering on the boys in red.

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