Johansson on the bench just after scoring his first NHL goal (photo by me)
The best seats I've ever had for a Caps game were still in the days of the Student Rush promotion, when I sat sixth row in section 112 or 113 for a November 6 game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
My friend's fiance is a season ticket holder, and while she usually accompanies him to games, I tag along if she's unable to go. So I was planning to be at last night's game against the Bruins anyway. But turns out, through some miracle twist of fate, he managed to snag glass seats behind the Capitals bench.
It was an unbelievable experience sitting right there. I couldn't see much of the action due to Bob Woods being parked in front of my face for 2/3 of the night, and Dean Evason for the other third, but it was interesting to watch the players interact on the bench no more than two feet from where I was sitting. So here are some random observations of the evening, since my night was near limited to watching the guys on the bench.
- No one seemed more excited for Marcus Johansson's first NHL goal than Alexander Semin. Off on the other, small bench where the backup goaltender usually sits, Johansson joined Semin there after coming to the bench from his goal shift. Semin gave the rookie a huge hug.
- Speaking of Semin, he had a great game. In one shift, he picked up at least three giveaways that his linemates gave up and singlehandedly kept the puck in the offensive zone. He also was very in tune with what was happening on the ice while he was on the bench. He jumped to his feet and protested a questionable penalty call on the Capitals (I believe it was when David Steckel was taken to the box for tripping in the second period).
- The guys who ask the most questions to coaches on the bench are David Steckel and John Carlson.
- Michal Neuvirth must have really been sick, because not only did I not even see him leave the ice, but he never returned back to the bench.
- The smell of sweaty hockey equipment does get pretty rank as the game goes on, but for me it just brought me back to my days of playing hockey and smelling like crap.
- A big chirper on the bench is Jason Chimera. I'm not sure who the Bruins player was (it was quick, it may have been Brad Marchand), but as he skated by the Caps bench, Chimera said something to him and the player responded, "Hey, f**k you." That's hockey, folks.
- Matt Hendricks is a creature of habit and has OCD tendencies worse than most goalies. I've noticed that when the guys get on the ice for the game, he instantly starts stretching his arms and shoulders using his stick. Sitting behind the bench, I discovered that after every single shift, he takes a water bottle and douses the back of his neck. Every shift. Without fail.
- I situated myself at the tunnel as the guys came down to take the ice for the first period. Getting the glove bumps from several of the players was awesome.
- For my first appearance on the Versus telecast... I was busy tweeting. Quite fitting, really. (on second look, I may have actually been taking a picture)