Wednesday, January 31, 2007



The driving is easy on this part of the tour, but we move along quickly. We arrive at a place, watch the game, and move on to the next place after the game. I'm having trouble remembering where I am sometimes. But for the people who know me, they'd say that's normal!!!! I'm glad I have a calendar all mapped out with the schedule, or I'd have trouble remembering what day it is. We left Philadelphia after the game and drove part way to Washington DC. It is another short drive, but we stopped for the night outside of the city. In the morning, we drove into the city and Graham attended the practice. It was in one of the most unusual spots I'm sure in the whole NHL. The Caps practice rink is on top of a parking garage that is attached to a large downtown shopping mall. There are two ice surfaces and they are right on the top floor of the parking garage. One ice pad is a public rink and there were a number of people out for a public skate. The other ice pad is where the Caps practice. A most unusual location for sure. The St. Louis Blues have their practice rink attached to a shopping mall, but it is at ground level. Afterwards we checked out the local sights. It was once again pretty neat to see buildings that I have heard so much about or have seen on television, right in front of me. The building that of course stood out right away was the Washington Monument. It rises out of the city like a giant upside down icicle and you see it from everywhere. Nearby are the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Monument. Across a nearby bridge you are in the community of Arlington which is where the Arlington National Cemetery is located. It is also where the tomb of the Unknown Soldier is, and the final resting place for President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Buried alongside them are two children who died in infancy. A guard is stationed at their gravesite at all times and the eternal flame burns constantly. It is a very peaceful calm spot. As you walk around, you see row after row of simple white headstones which identify each soldier that is buried there. The white markers are very similar to the ones in the Mennonite Cemeteries near our hometown of Elmira, Ontario. Our touring ended with nightfall approaching and we returned to our hotel near the airport. Gameday started early. The game was at 1:00 PM. The Caps looked flat for most of the game and lost by 4-1. This puts our record at 14 and 10. Some home teams need to start winning. It is now the All Star Break which goes into next week. We didn't get picked for the all star team, so with this being our 24th stop, we decided to take a break. We have seen 9 games in 15 days. We are off to Vegas. Now that should be a relaxing rejuvenating break. NOT. See you after the break.

Graham's Game Report

Jan 20, 2007
Verizon Center
Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals

Today marked the last games before the players and these two tired travellers take a five day break for the All-Star festivities. I had the chance to catch up with a few of the Capitals at practice the day before the game at their practice facility which is located on the 8th floor of a parking garage attached to a large mall. Being a little weary ( and naturally a bit slow) I actually phoned our team contact on the way to the rink to ask where I could park. Doh! I had a chance to chat with three former OHLers with ties to our family. Brent Johnson was the goaltender in Owen Sound during Dan's first two seasons in Owen Sound and Matt Bradley played in Kingston during Dan's junior years and he and I share some fastball connections from the Stittsville area. Steve Eminger also played for the Kitchener Rangers during my brother Jeff's time there as an assistant and then head coach. I also chatted with Guelph native, GM George McPhee, who remembered skating in the old Elmira bandbox for the Guelph Jr B club. Unfortunately Dan's former teammate Brian Pothier from the Turner Cup champion Orlando Solar Bears was under the weather and didn't attend practice. Dan and Brian played their first NHL games together after being called up from Orlando for a late season game against the Ottawa Senators. An exciting time and a cherished memory.
The game was a brutal one for the home team which was very surprising given that both teams have a realistic shot at a playoff run. The Caps started quickly with a powerplay goal from Zubrus but that was all the fans had to cheer about except the spectacular goaltending of Ollie Kolzig. He gave the home side a chance to steal points until an empty net goal with under a minute left sealed the deal for the Panthers who outshot and outworked the home side and left town with a 4-1 victory. Shots were 42-18 Panthers as Eddie Belfour needed to withstand only a few brief Cap flurries for the win. A series of giveaways by both the forwards and defence kept Kolzig busy throughout and allowed Florida many point blank chances including a second period Washington powerplay which resulted in Josef Stumpel's game winner. I'm sure the Capitals will want to forget this one as quickly as possible and start the second half with a fresh perspective.

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