Caps-Pens: How I Experienced Game Six

Erin NewsomeContributor IMay 12, 2009

Andy, my husband, had to attend a mandatory, four-hour company event Monday night. We knew this for weeks. 

What we didn’t know was that the Caps would be playing the Penguins in an elimination game that same night. Down three games to two in the second round of the Eastern Conference Championships, the Caps had to win in Pittsburgh to force a Game Seven which would be decided back on home ice in DC Wednesday—or be knocked out. 

The puck was dropping in Game Six at 7:00 pm.  Andy would not be home until 9:00.  What were we going to do? 

Andy and I developed a system for similar situations in the past which he dubbed “entering the cone of silence.”

We DVR the game, tournament, or match depending on the sport. We ask our friends and family not to update us via text message, e-mail, or phone.  We stay away from news and radio reports. 

Then, when we are finished with our appointment, wedding, conference, etc., we settle in and watch the game. We are not the sort of fans who are content to hear the score and rejoice or lament in the result. 

We have to be there, urging on the team at every face-off, power play, or save.  We have to be involved, even if the result was long-since decided without us. 

Some of you will understand, some of you will not. Moving on…

This method has a 94.6 percent rate of success. Despite the immense risk, we had no choice but to engage the cone of silence for Game Six.

Saturday’s Game Five loss at Verizon Center set the tone.  Sunday was spent reliving the horrible calls and feeling cheated from the night before.  

Monday was twitchy. The entire day was terrible. 

We were both nervous wrecks. Around 3:00 pm we stopped talking to each other. 

Commence cone of silence mode. I was waiting. 

I couldn’t communicate with anyone. On my way home from work I listened to the pregame to feed my appetite for all things Caps. 

I needed to feel like I was participating—giving them what I could before I had to tune out.  A storm rolled in and before I knew it, I was waiting again.

When Andy burst through the door at 8:48 pm with all the fury of a red-clad Capitals fan at five minutes to go in the third period, I first noticed the new suit.  He looked handsome. 

“Must have been expensive,” I thought.  What woman doesn't speak up at the sight of an expensive looking suit whose purchase was not discussed with her? Clearly something was different.

He was drenched from head to toe, his playoff beard adding a kind of wildness to his already fiery expression.  I then noticed the new gym bag, with its emblazoned company logo as it hit the floor in a tremendous crash. 

For a brief moment, we stared at each other—he still standing in the open doorway—panting; I, clenched in a ball of nerves on the couch in anticipation for the game, already in progress; the cat having bolted for the bedroom due to the aforementioned gym bag crash.  No words were spoken, yet so much was said. 

We both changed into our respective jerseys—his an authentic, signed Alex Ovechkin jersey, mine a cheap, replica Mike Green jersey that in comparison is frail, malleable, and wouldn’t hold up well in a playoff series.  Something tells me there’s an analogy to be made there, but since I’m blinded by my love for No. 52 I will refrain.

Now, both rocking the red and seated, albeit uncomfortably, at the edge of the couch and atop our hands, we pressed play. 

Most of you know what happened in that game.  I will not relive the details here except to say this. 

Wallowing in disappointment, nay despair, after witnessing Steckel miss the open net in Game Five on Saturday, seeing him score that goal in OT in Game Six sent such a sensation up my spine, the only way to release it was to produce a tremendous scream of laughter.  The sound that came out of me can only be described as both a scream and a laugh. 

My face took on a permanent grin.  Not only had the Caps won, they had won with poetry in Pittsburgh.  I think I ran through my entire 675 square feet of condo. 

At 10:36 pm, one minute after my heart restarted, approximately 38 minutes after the game was decided in real time, and approximately seven hours and 36 minutes of no communication, my husband and I finally spoke to each other.  “Lay out the tickets for Game Seven.”