Washington Captials-New York Rangers: It Doesn't Have To Be Ugly

Scott ZweibelContributor IApril 27, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 26: Michal Rozsival #33 of the New York Rangers hits Sergei Federov #91 of the Washington Capitals during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 26, 2009 in New York City. The Capitals defeated the Rangers 5-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Lots of trash talking? Check.

Big Hits? Check.

Fights? Check.

Drama? Check.

All things typical of a long and hard fought playoff series. Some things though, in this quarterfinal matchup between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers, need to stop.

First off, head hunting. I do not care what team you follow, or what side you are on, intending to injure an opponent is disgusting.

Sean Avery took a run at Mike Green in Game One, Colton Orr took a run at Niklas Backstrom in Game Two, and Donald Brashear nearly decapitated Blair Betts in Game Six.

No hit to the head should be legal, and retaliations are just as bad. I think Brashear did something stupid by possibly taking himself out of Game Seven (pending disciplinary action by the NHL).

Secondly, fans everywhere need to keep themselves in check. This a game, and passion, desire, and love for your team are all great things.

However, when you go too far and you threaten other fans, cause fights in the stands, and begin to hurl more than words, this becomes less about the game and more about anger management.

If (and I say a big "if") Capitals fans at Verizon Center crossed the line, they were wrong.

Just as poor a response was made by Rangers bench boss John Tortorella. I go to many games at Verizon Center as a Washington Capitals season ticket holder, and I believe that we have a very supportive and respectful fan base in our building. I was disappointed by both sides during Game Five in Washington, and I was further appalled by some of the conduct towards myself and the few Capitals fans that made the trip to The Garden for Game Six.

After attending Game Three (also a Capitals victory) alone on Monday night in New York, I was rather "proud" of the 200-level Ranger fans for having restraint and not crossing the line.

Though with the Rangers wilting in Game Six, Madison Square Garden "400-level Blue Seats" fans gave us an earful, a dousing or two, and the odyssey of a lifetime getting out of the building alive.

There's a difference from showing passion for your team, and making opposing fans uncomfortable. Many thanks to the Ranger fan that lifted his shirt to show me his knife, that was very classy of you and your fan base.

Finally, all the moaning and crying about the referees in this series. The players are crossing the lines (and breaking the rules) and they are getting called.

The Capitals took 11 penalties in Game Six. If it had not been for the offense and some decent penalty killing, I think the series would be over. The Rangers too, have been guilty of taking dumb calls this series. Weak hooks, lazy holds, and just plain stupid roughings are going on, rather than disciplined hockey.

I expect both coaches to issue stern warnings to their squads before Game Seven. I also believe we as fans should remind those around us to show respect for the game by being good spectators.

Just as much as the players are ambassadors for the product displayed by the NHL and their respective teams, the fans are ambassadors for their home arena. Everyone needs to show respect to the game first, and love for their team second.

On to Game Seven, Rock the Red!


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