Friends in (Not So) Far Places; Wells Fargo Center

Yesterday, March 6th, 2019, was my 25th birthday. Coincidentally, our Washington Capitals took a short train ride up to Wells Fargo Center to take on the Philadelphia Flyers, hoping to extend their four-game win streak. Despite having attended nearly 70 Caps games over the last three years, I had never attended an away game. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to finally watch my favorite team take on a division rival in a barn that ISN’T Capital One Arena. Thanks to a friend of mine (whom I met through the Capitals), we snagged tickets through the Caps Road Crew, booked an Airbnb, and drove up to the City of Brotherly Love.

Now, I’ve heard a lot of rumors about Philly sports fans; how they’ll trash talk you, throw beer at you, and challenge you to meet them “out back after the game”. How they’ll burn their city, win or lose. With that being said, I am a strong believer that if you go into a situation looking for issues, you’ll find them. I personally just wanted to have a good time in a city I haven’t visited since that 6th grade field trip, in a new arena, and watch the Caps snag a win for my birthday. From DC, the trip is only about 2 1/2 hours, without traffic. Side note: if you’re ever in Philly, and want to try something new, Banana Leaf is a hole-in-the-wall Malaysian restaurant, and it was INCREDIBLE. Donning our jerseys, we set out on an adventure. After visiting a number of local sports bars, per locals’ recommendations, and befriending a handful of Flyers’ fans, we jumped on a free shuttle (shout out to Chickie & Pete’s) to Wells Fargo Center, thus officially entering ‘enemy territory’.

I’ll be honest with you, I truthfully didn’t know what to expect. I prefer to let my experiences speak for themselves, rather than rumors and anecdotal stories from others. While in line, we were lightly harried for wearing ‘Crapitals’ jerseys, but once we thanked them for beating Pittsburgh in the Stadium Series, it didn’t last. There’s nothing quite like a mutual distaste for a team to bring rivals together, eh? Once inside, we headed down to the glass for the pregame skate. Everyone I interacted with, Flyers fans and Caps fans, were wonderful. First of all, the new sound system at Wells Fargo Center…? Yeah, we need that at Capital One Arena. It is loud, it is reverberating, and it is deafening. There was A LOT of red in Wells Fargo, which was amazing to see. Being so close to DC, it is so easy to just drive up to Philly for a game. At times, our chants were louder than the home team. The cheers for Caps’ goals were LOUD. It seemed as though Flyers fans didn’t truly start ‘cheering’ until they scored their 3rd goal. But they BOO’ed. A lot. Despite being surrounded by Flyers’ fans, there was no name-calling, no beer-flinging. As someone who attends A LOT of hockey games, I am not bothered by the casual chirping and trash talking. We had started a “Let’s Go Caps!” chant, and was just told to “shut the f**k up”. No big deal. Some may be bothered by that, so if you’re easily triggered, I’d recommend you watch from the comfort of your own home. I, however, draw the line at targeting a single person. Generalized cheers and jeers are are just a part of hockey.

The only issue we had all night was a single woman a few seats down from us who took the chirps a little bit too far, and a man who screamed some unintelligible nonsense at us with three minutes left in the game. Belligerently, she began to swear at us, making excuses for her behavior because its ‘her house’ (which to an extent is acceptable). What at first was innocent haggling evolved into targeted ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’. Maturely, we were non-reactive. Regardless of venue, when you go to watch a hockey game (or any event), the best way you can respond to harassment, is to not respond at all. The row of guys in front of us would trash talk, we’d trash talk back, but at the end of the night, we shook hands and parted ways. We got some “Ovechkin Sucks!” and “Holtby Sucks!” chants, but that was to be expected. We sat in the lower bowl with the Caps Road Crew, so I assume we would have had more issues if we had sat in the upper levels. Again, if you’re looking for trouble, you will certainly find it. However, if you are simply looking to enjoy a good hockey game, and aren’t easily upset, I would recommend Wells Fargo Center to any hockey fan. The best part of all, the Capitals won 5-3 on the road, and extended their streak to 5 wins, and are again first in the Metropolitan. Overall, I would chalk this up to a positive experience, and I absolutely intend on returning to Wells Fargo Center in the future.

My ratings for Wells Fargo Center are as follows:

Parking: 4/10 (we took a shuttle to the arena but it looked like a massive logistical nightmare trying to leave WFC).

Security: 10/10 (they’re strict with what is allowed in [posters under 14×14, no flags, noisemakers], but they were super efficient and appeared to like their job).

Concourses: 8/10 (the upper concourse was recently renovated, but I didn’t see it, so I’m rating the lower level concourse. It is older, but it’s much larger and not as crowded, even during intermissions).

Prices: 6/10 (overpriced, but typical for the event).

Sound System: 10/10 (I would rate it higher if I could. Recently updated, deafening, reverberating, definitely the best part of the arena).

Jumbotron: 9/10 (large, presumably what the new Jumbotron will be like at Capital One Arena, cool information and statistics centrally located, didn’t obstruct view).

Seats: 5/10 (decently sized, but old and worn, and many were in the process of breaking).

Intermission Entertainment: 6/10 (two bouts of mites-on-ice, a performance by the cheer squad, and some weird commercial break games)

Hometown Fans: 8/10 (its Philadelphia, they’re passionate about their sports. There’s always that occasional bad apple wherever you go).

OVERALL RATING: 7.3/10

 

Braden Holtby and John Carlson Lead Metropolitan Division to All-Star Game Win

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and defenseman John Carlson were well represented at the NHL All-Star Game in San Jose last week. With coach Todd Reirden at the helm of the Metropolitan Division, the trio contributed to wins over the Atlantic and Central Divisions to win the All-Star Game and split the grand prize of one million dollars. Continue reading “Braden Holtby and John Carlson Lead Metropolitan Division to All-Star Game Win”

Jakub Vrana’s Two Goals Lead Caps to 5-3 Win Over Flyers

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CAPITAL ONE ARENA – The Washington Capitals were leading the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 just over the midway mark in the second period. The Flyers were looking for some kind of momentum to tie the game. As they had the puck in the Caps zone, Jakub Vrana stayed on his man and forced a turnover off an errant attempted pass from Sean Couturier and went off to the races. Vrana flew up the ice with only goaltender Mike McKenna to beat. Vrana went to his left and beat McKenna above the glove in the top corner.  Continue reading “Jakub Vrana’s Two Goals Lead Caps to 5-3 Win Over Flyers”

The Origin of Gritty: The Story Behind the NHL’s Newest Mascot

With the Washington Capitals taking on the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena, FiCP takes a look at the fascination behind the NHL’s newest furry friend. Ever since the Flyers have introduced their new mascot Gritty to the entire hockey world in late September, hockey fans worldwide have became obsessed with the big eyed, orange furred phenomenon. Here is the story behind Gritty’s origin.  Continue reading “The Origin of Gritty: The Story Behind the NHL’s Newest Mascot”

Top 10 Capitals Games to Look Forward to This Season

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The dog days of summer are almost over and soon enough Capitals players will return to the ice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex to begin training camp. Players have already stopped partying and started training as they gear up for a chance to defend the Stanley Cup. Here are the top 10 games to look forward to this upcoming season.  Continue reading “Top 10 Capitals Games to Look Forward to This Season”

Caps Down Two at Home: Game Photos Habs and Flyers

The Washington Capitals have lost their last three games, two of which they played at home. Mel was in the house to get photos for you. Unfortunately there aren’t many happy moments from the games; however, we love us some player pics.

Photos by Mel: @smel18 on Twitter

The Washington Capitals have lost their last three games, two of which they played at home. Mel was in the house to get photos for you. Unfortunately there aren’t many happy moments from the games; however, we love us some player pics.

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This represented the third loss in a row for the Caps, having lost to the NJ Devils upon their return from the Bye Week. Given that there was some degree of struggle before the Bye Week, we aren’t too inclined to blame it on the break. After three games one can hardly stay with the “rust” excuse.

Continue reading “Caps Down Two at Home: Game Photos Habs and Flyers”

A Sweet Road trip- A Photo Gallery

This weekend we took FiCP on the road yet again to our favorite Pennsylvania destination- Hershey! The Outdoor Classic between the Bears and Phantoms was set for Saturday the 19th on the coolest stage in Hershey; Hershey Park Stadium. We had such a blast and are thrilled to share some awesome photos from the weekend!

Prior to the game there was a fanfest which included signings by some of our favorite alumni!

 

Before the game began we caught some of the boys playing a little soccer or football on the field.

 

It was a littttlleeee bit chilly as you can tell:

 

The pomp and circumstance during the Bear’s entrance was so exciting and made you forget the temperatures even if just for a moment…

 

We must say though, the Phantom’s jerseys were a sight to see… we’ll let you judge for yourself.

But perhaps the most entertaining part of the evening were the mascots!

MeLVin the Phantom’s mascot was on and off “battling” with Coco the Bear’s mascot:

Capitals Defense Struggles

We knew there would be some growing pains this year for the Capitals and Saturday we saw how real the problem is. Matt Niskanen is on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) and will be out for at least 10 games or 24 days. That was a blow to the blue line.

With Nisky out the door opened for Madison Bowey to finally see his NHL debut. We were pretty excited about it as we wrote Saturday. Unfortunately it was not as great a debut for him as it was for Hershey teammates Djoos and Walker. For example, he lost his stick and was outplayed by the Flyers which led to a goal by Wayne Simmonds. He ended the game a -3.

Bowey wasn’t alone with the defense struggles. John Carlson had two penalties for slashing, a turnover, and an assist. We need to see more consistency in his play. Brooks Orpik, with a -2 also recorded an assist. More consistency issues. Dmitry Orlov, while shooting at the net also had a -4. Awful for him. And Aaron Ness wasn’t really visible this game.

The Caps just couldn’t get the momentum to  stop the fast skating and slick passing of the Flyers. 

On the positive side, Christian Djoos was the only defenseman ending with a +1. Even when the Caps lost to Pittsburgh it was Djoos who stood out. Read more here.

  • Nick Backstrom remains solid with a beauty of a goal- a five game streak with 11 points. And Jakub Vrana is finding his groove with a goal himself. 
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov now has 11 assists. We are ready for his first goal of the season!

All-in-all, it was a brutal game. The forwards didn’t seem to connect, the defense wasn’t where it needed to be, and Grubi had a few errors of his own. There were too many turnovers. All part of the process of a team early in the season that is adjusting to change. They have time to focus on those gaps in performance and right the ship. 

Caps practice Monday, participate in a season ticket holder event, and practice again Tuesday before they meet the Maple Leafs at home at 7 pm. 

NHL Expansion Draft: Goalie Watch

Now that the complete available lists are out, Caps fans are wondering if we might really lose Philipp Grubauer to George McPhee (GMGM). He has lots of  interesting  picks available to him.

If McPhee is looking for experienced starting goalies, there are some great players on the list. With the Pittsburgh Penguins releasing Marc-Andre Fleury following the playoffs, GMGM now has a goalie with Stanley Cup experience to add to his list of possible number one goalies. And then there is Robert Luango who could come in as a number two behind Fleury, although his is one of the oldest goalies in the league at 37.. Of course there is Michael Neuvirth who McPhee hired and fired so we don’t really see him as a viable pick given how much young blood there is on the available list.

GMGM can pull up to three goalies from the available list. We would think McPhee is going to go with a mix of experience and players who he and the coaching staff can groom over the next couple of years as they come together as a team. No one expects greatness right out of the gate, but if they even want to prove themselves contenders, they will need a strong goalie in the net who is ready to face down opponents in the Western Conference.

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From our perspective, we think Grubauer really should be his number one choice but we expect him to go with Fleury. Picking Grubi means that Phoenix Copely is safe with the Caps and could become the back up goalie. Bottom line, the pool is wide open and George McPhee has been known to do the unexpected. Going with some veteran players might be safe, but we could all be surprised in the end.

Here is the list of now available goalies:

Dustin Tokarski – Ducks
Louis Domingue – Coyotes
Anton Khudobin – Bruins
Malcolm Subban – Bruins
Anders Nilsson – Sabres
Linus Ullmark – Sabres
Brian Elliott – Flames
TEddie Lack – Hurricanes
Michael Leighton – Hurricanes
Cam Ward (G)om McCollum – Hurricanes
Mac Carruth – Blackhawks
Jeff Glass – Blackhawks
Joe Cannata – Avalanche
Calvin Pickard – Avalanche
Jeremy Smith – Avalanche
Oscar Dansk –  Blue Jackets
Anton Forsberg Blue Jackets
Joonas Korpisalo Blue Jackets
Henri Kiviaho – Stars
Maxime Lagace – Stars
Kari Lehtonen – Stars
Antti Niemi – Stars
Justin Peters – Stars
Jared Coreau – Red Wings
Petr Mrazek – Red Wings
Edward Pasquale – Red Wings
Jake Paterson – Red Wings
Laurent Brossoit – Oilers
Jonas Gustavsson – Oliers
Reto Berra – Panthers
Sam Brittain – Panthers
Roberto Luongo – Panthers
Jack Campbell – Kings
Jeff Zatkoff – Kings
Johan Gustafsson – Wild
Darcy Kuemper – Wild
Alex Stalock – Wild
Al Montoya – Canadiens
Marek Mazanec – Predators
Keith Kinkaid – Devils
Scott Wedgewood – Devils
Jean-Francois Berube – Islanders
Christopher Gibson – Islanders
Jaroslav Halak – Islanders
Magnus Hellberg – Rangers
Antti Raanta – Rangers
Mackenzie Skapski – Rangers
Mike Condon – Senators
Chris Driedger – Senators
Andrew Hammond – Senators
Steve Mason – Flyers
Michal Neuvirth – Flyers
Marc-Andre Fleury – Penguins
Aaron Dell – Sharks
Troy Grosenick – Sharks
Harri Sateri – Sharks
Jordan Binnington – Blues
Carter Hutton – Blues
Peter Budaj – Lightning
Kristers Gudlevskis – Lightning
Jaroslav Janus – Lightning
Mike McKenna – Lightning
Antoine Bibeau – Maple Leafs
Curtis McElhinney – Maple Leafs
Garret Sparks – Maple Leafs
Richard Bachman – Canucks
Ryan Miller – Canucks
Pheonix Copley – Capitals
Philipp Grubauer – Capitals
Michael Hutchinson – Jets
Ondrej Pavelec – Jets

 

 

Caps Lose Intensity Match to Flyers in OT

Wednesday night rivalry.

The Washington Capitals versus the Philadelphia Flyers.

Both riding some great win streaks. Both bringing their all to a heated competition. Both bringing hatred for their opposition. This promises to be a great game!
The first period was intense. It was fast-paced. Both teams playing with ferocity. While it was not necessarily the no holds barred, constant fisticuffs we have come to know between these two teams, it was a great battle between two great teams. It was relatively quiet the entire period. The Caps committed the only penalty of the period. At 6:16 into the period, Daniel Winnik was called for tripping Wayne Simmonds. Flyers only had one shot on goal during their powerplay but did not score. The Caps drew first blood when Andre Burakovsky scored with 1:30 left in the period. Caps up, 1-0.
The second period was very similar to the first. Lots of back and forth. Some great chances by both teams. However, most chances were met by even better saves by the goalies. There were three penalties committed. There were also three goals scored. The penalties were committed by Lars Eller and Justin Williams for the Caps and Shayne Gostisbehere for the Flyers. Williams and Gostisbehere were matching minors so the teams played 4 on 4. Goals were scored by Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux for the Flyers, and Lars Eller for the Caps. Caps and Flyers tied, 2-2.
The Flyers started the third with the remnants of a power play, but could not convert. The third period was a very similar look to the first two periods. Lots of back and forth. Tom Wilson started getting pretty physical. While on a two on one, Wilson laid a Flyers player out in front of his own net. A few seconds after that, Wilson and Simmonds exchanged aggressive hugs next to Braden Holtby. One of the refs took a puck from Simmonds off his body and went down. Luckily he was ok and stayed in the game. With 1:43 left in the game, the Caps got their first powerplay of the night when Radko Gudas was called for hooking Wilson. However, the Caps could not score and the game goes to overtime.
Caps started OT with an abbreviated powerplay, going 4 on 3 for 12 seconds. The Caps did not score, so back to even strength they go! Holtby stood tall, making some great saves to keep the Caps in this game. Steve Mason was not tested much in OT, but when he was, he was phenomenal as well! Neither team scored, so we go **Wes Johnson voice**

TO A SHOOTOUT. Flyers elected to go first. Gostisbehere was up first, and lost the puck. TJ Oshie went first for the Caps and scored. Claude Giroux was up next and was denied by Holtby. Evgeni Kuznetsov was up next but was stopped by Mason. Jakub Voracek scored. Nicklas Backstrom was denied by Mason. Simmonds scored. Williams missed.

Flyers win, 3-2.
Not gonna lie, that one stung a bit. Well, at least we got a point, right?

Caps are now 19-8-4. Their next game is against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday at home in the Verizon Center at 7pm. See ya then, Caps faithful.