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."
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