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The Caps' greatest games

A 10-disc collector's edition of the Caps' 10 greatest games went on sale this week, and I was lucky enough to procure a review copy. Now, naturally enough, I was hoping for plenty of early- and mid-'80s selections, complete with old-school Home Team Sports intros, Larry King sideline shots, and images of '80s-vintage Al Koken.

Alas, a full six of the 10 Greatest Games came in the Bruce Boudreau era, which seems a bit implausible. Seven came in the Ovechkin era.

That leaves only three true vintage games: Game 6 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Final against the Sabres in which the Caps advanced to their first Stanley Cup, Game 1 of the 1996 playoffs against the Penguins in which the Caps rallied from down 4-1, and Game 7 of the 1988 playoffs against the Flyers, the first seven-game series win in franchise history.

I watched a good deal of that game, and it's 16 kinds of awesome. Koken is indeed in the booth, though he's not pictured. The Cap Centre is going bonkers. Players are looking retro. And Dale Hunter, after scoring the series-clinching goal, while getting ready for his star turn in front of the camera, cracks a cold one. Unclear exactly what he was drinking, but it looked tasty.

This is what I needed after a day featuring steroid investigations, government memos about Gilbert and coach-player confrontations. A few shots of the awesomeness follow.

At least three things are awesome about this end of period scene. Players have to walk right by the fans on their way to the dressing room, without even the glass that guards the tunnels nowadays. Rod Langway has no helmet. And yes, that kid is rocking the Philly Sucks sign. This is 23 years ago, and yet the sign holds up just fine over time. Better than the haircuts, that's for sure.

Awesome: the giant HTS graphics.

Forever awesome: the original Caps logo.

And while it might not be Rock the Red, the Cap Centre was just incredibly white. In, uh, multiple ways. The white pom-poms were everywhere, and when people stood and waved them, it was a great television moment.

"They're all wearing white, shaking white pom-poms and they're standing here at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland," was the call, heading into overtime.

Yes, Langway sans helmet was awesome. But so is stripes here. Apologies for not knowing his name, and I'm sure you longtime fans will know it instantly, but goodness.

And how about the ad on the dasher boards for Trump's Castle? Never even heard of it. I guess the name has since changed.

And boom goes the dynamite, yet again. Well done, fans of 1988. Well done indeed. I fully expect a painting to surface from 1814, with James Madison fleeing a burning White House while holding a piece of parchment on which his secretary had blazed the words "Britain Sucks!"

Awesome: Pete Peeters's blazing white mask. I mean, it's hard to make 'em more plain-spoken than that. Maybe if he painted some vanilla extract on top, I guess. Or pasted some white construction paper to the side. A Brent Johnson/Led Zeppelin model would likely have caused several Peeters seizures.

"The Capitals really with no great tradition, Philadelphia has it all," Koken said as the end-game neared. Maybe so, but HTS had nifty graphics.

Jokes aside, it's impossible to overstate how weird it was watching a game from 1988. In addition to the lack of glorious HD, there's no score constantly shown on the screen, and no running clock, either. This little guy only showed up as the periods neared their end. How did our forefathers survive? They were a hardy bunch, no?

And for some reason, the power-play countdown was a lot, lot easier to read.

Oh. You again. Unbelievable. One random game from 1988, and no fewer than three "Flyers Suck" shots during the broadcast. And there weren't a whole lot of crowd shots, either. Maybe they had limited angles.

Love the on-ice coach handshake after the Caps were victorious. Especially love Mike Keenan's suspenders.

And one final bit of awesome.

"How about the play by Larry Murphy!" Koken said, when he could finally speak over the crowd noise. "Look at the alertness! He gets the puck and a perfect pass [to Hunter]....This is why he was acquired. Puts a couple moves, right between the pads to send out those demons that have haunted this franchise since the inception."

"Well, we're not chokers, anyways," Hunter said after swilling from his beverage. "We showed that we're not chokers."

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 24, 2010; 8:41 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Next: Boudreau: "There was nothing to be found"


Probably a Diet Coke. He also had them kept in a cooler in the penalty box at the Cap Center.

Posted by: hockeyguy1721 | March 24, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Keenan looks fresh from a supporting role in the movie "Strange Brew."

Posted by: pepperjackb | March 24, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

i needed this. thanks, Steinz.

Posted by: bottomfeeders10 | March 24, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Opened in 1985 as Trump's Castle Hotel Casino, Trump Marina became its current incarnation in 1997.

Posted by: wwkayaker | March 24, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Not mentioned here is that the Caps' TV play-by-play man in 1988 was Mike Fornes, IMO the best they've ever had. As I recall, he had the job for only two seasons and left on his own. He was from rural Michigan with a young family and commuted to all of the games, leaving his family in Michigan. My understanding is that he grew tired of the travel and wanted to spend more time at home. Last I heard, he was working in radio in Michigan. Many in these parts like Joe Beninati, but, in my mind, JB will always take a back seat to Fornes. I can still hear his call of the Hunter was much like Frank Herzog's call of the touchdown scored by John Riggins against the Dolphins in the Super Bowl...lots of emotion.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | March 24, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

oh HTS

Posted by: hockeypunk | March 24, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I was there! Still remember Hunter's goal. One of my best Cap memories next to when Hunter put Turgeon into the boards. Sorry.

Posted by: boot1 | March 24, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Hunter's Shot:

Embedded at the bottom are the national TV calls of the goal from Canada (TSN) and the US (ESPN).

Posted by: EdTheRed | March 24, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Wow HTS i totally forgot about them.

Posted by: MNMNT | March 24, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: EdTheRed | March 24, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

As always, awesome commentary. But I ask, how can 1988 be 23 years ago? That was the year I graduated high school. Man, I must be old.

It's always striking to me how much smaller goalies used to be.

Posted by: nafspac | March 24, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I can still remember sitting in the Cap Centre parking lot listening as Ron Weber played his joyous call of the Hunter goal over and over on the postgame show that night.

This would be Exhibit A to show Pittsburgh fans when they charge that there were no hockey fans in Washington until last season.

Dan, as for why there aren't more mid-80s games, it's probably because there weren't many dramatic playoff wins by the Caps back then. The few playoff series they did win, they won pretty easily, while the memorable playoff games back then were mostly excruciating losses (losing two-goal lead in third period of game 5 to Isles in 84, outshooting Isles 40-20 in deciding game 5 in 85 at home but losing 2-1, the four OT loss to Isles in 87, every loss to the Rangers--who finished 32 points behind the Caps in the regular season, in the second round in 86, losing a 4-1 third period lead to Flyers in game 4 of that 88 series). I am surprised, though, that something from the 90 run to the semis isn't in there--like the game 4 win at Cap Centre in which Langway scored the overtime winner.

Posted by: TheFingerman | March 24, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

This is awesome. I'm going to have to get this DVD asap.

Out of curiosity, what games are featured from the Ovi era?

Posted by: MillBurray | March 24, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The channel you cheer for...HOME TEAM SPORTS!

When baseball season comes around, I could use some Mel Proter and John Lowenstein pics from the '80s.

Posted by: gkronenberg | March 24, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I know it was a loss for our guys, but I was suprised that epic 4OT, 4-3 game 7 loss to the Islanders (1987) wasn't included. For sure that was G Bob Mason's finest moment, esp. when his face mask got knocked off and he stopped the puck under his body. I didn't have HTS at the time and listened to Ron Weber on radio instead, and it was insane. :) Just needed a happy ending...

Posted by: blackjack65 | March 24, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Ice Breakers, Goal Shakers: The Caps!

And, as mentioned before: I always loved: "The Channel You Cheer For: Home Team Sports."

Posted by: jpalexa1 | March 24, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

looks like the King of Beers to me

Posted by: JohnMTaylor | March 24, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I didn't realize the Caps had 10 greatest games to choose from. Can't wait for the Wizards DVD set to come out.

No sense in making any baseball jokes since both the Nats and Bucs suck beyond compare.

Posted by: MDPensfan | March 24, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Haven't read through all of the comments so I apologize if someone has already mentioned this -- check out the Caps Complete Schedule on It still lists the Caps Home Broadcasts as being on HTS (as opposed to CSN).

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | March 24, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Mike Fornes coined the phrase..."A deke, a shot and a goal!!!"

Posted by: djdavew2002 | March 24, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Awesome. Just awesome. Dale Hunter, HTS, the Cap Centre, and white-outs. Arguably the greatest goal in Caps history, next to Juneau's game 6 ECF winner.

And yes, Mike Fornes is the best PBP man EVER for this franchise, with all due respect to Ron Weber. Jeff Rimer wasn't bad either. Sorry JoeB fans.

I also agree with blackmjack65 about the Isles game. Classic.

Bring back the Patrick Division!

Posted by: paperboy76 | March 24, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, most of the greatest games the Caps played in during the 90s were OT playoff losses.

Tony K had a whole bit about choking dogs.

Posted by: stormblue | March 24, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

That seven of the games are from the Ovi era just shows that the NHL knows where its bread is buttered.

Game six of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals has to be in this collection. It's still the greatest moment in Caps history. I saw a replay a few years ago on the NHL network. Even knowing the outcome, I had this overwhelming sense of dread after the Peca goal.

Also, Lary Murphy? Woop! Woop! Woop!

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 24, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Weber was the best. Loved Fornes but Weber usually went solo (on the radio-much harder) and lived & died with the team (without being an overt homer). I remember they replayed Weber's broadcast of this game on the next Saturday afternoon (I think).
Somewhere in my garage I have some cassettes of Weber (possibly this rebroadcast, but definitely his last post-game broadcast). When I find them I need to have my techie daughter digitize them for blog posting.
Great blog post, DS. Thanks

Posted by: pgeagle | March 25, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

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