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Bear Essentials On the Road: Washington

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Bear Essentials on the Road: WASHINGTON, D.C. (Verizon Center)

Where are we going?
A familiar sight. (photo:
“The sights and sounds of the nation’s capitol inspire millions of visitors every year,” says D.C.’s official tourism website.  “Packed with famous sights, free attractions, and an endless calendar of special events, Washington D.C. offers year-round inspiring experiences.”

The capitol city has about 572,000 residents, according to the 2000 census, and attracts countless more visitors each year.

“Casual cafes and upscale bistros line the trendy streets of Georgetown, while the downtown district sizzles with a host of new restaurants,” continues the website.  “Spontaneous Jazz notes tumble out the windows of U Street’s nightclubs, while world-class performers take the stage at the highly-acclaimed Kennedy Center.”

And, you know, there’s all those monuments and government offices.  Oh, right – the White House, too.

Where are we playing?
Verizon Center (photo: Verizon Center)
The Verizon Center, “located in the heart of Chinatown…is only a few steps away from the White House,” says the arena’s website.

It opened in December 1997, so the arena, which cost $200 million to build, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.  It hosts over 220 events and concerts every year, and through its 10 years, has “entertained over 24 million patrons with over 2,070 world-class sporting events, concerts and family shows.”

The Verizon Center has played host to a WNBA All-Star Game, NCAA tournaments, the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals, figure skating championships, as well as tons of concerts and shows – U2, the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi and Disney on Ice.

“The longest-tenured events for the building are the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington International Horse Show,” says the website.

The arena includes 104 luxury suites and six executive suites, as well as a restaurant for club seat and suite ticket holders, a club for VIP season ticket holders, and a health club and hair salon.

Who are we playing?
In June of 1972, Abe Pollin was granted the rights to an NHL team in Washington, and the Capitals were born.

The team played their first game on October 9, 1974, losing to the New York Rangers.  October 17 marked their first win, a victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.  Their first shutout did not come until February 1975, and the team’s first hat trick – by Ron Lalonde – came in March of that year.

In 1982, the team hosted the NHL All-Star Game at the Capital Centre.

The Caps first Stanley Cup appearance came in 1998, when they played the Detroit Red Wings, who won the series in four games.

This season, Washington left-winger Alexander Ovechkin is on pace to reach the famed 60-goal season mark.  He has had four hat tricks this season, including one against the Bruins that contained his 50th goal.

When are we playing?
3:00 p.m. ET

Who's playing for us?
My guess is the same lineup as yesterday -- and since Alex Auld beat Wash last time out, maybe Coach Julien will give Tim a break after his starting two straight? Since there is no morning skate, we won't know much until after noon.

Is the game on?
NESN and WBZ have your TV and radio coverage, so whether you’re at home or in the car, be sure to check out the game!

9:09 a.m.
Just waking up. No need to be running around when the bus is not until noonish. It's gray and overcast here, which does not reflect the mood of the B's travel party. Yesterday was one of the best comebacks I have seen since I joined the organization, and it was really terrific to see Andrew Ference, as stand up a guy as there is in the game, get his first in that situation. And then, to see veteran Aaron Ward pick the club up on his back and put the game away.

Tremendous. Just tremendous.

So, let's see where Mr. Ward's goal leaves us, standings wise (courtesy

Washington Capitals
Eastern Conference
Rank   GP W L   OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10
1 New Jersey Devils* 72 42 24   6 90 188 168 22-12-1 20-12-5 6-3-1
2 Montréal Canadiens* 73 40 24   9 89 230 200 18-13-5 22-11-4 7-3-0
3 Carolina Hurricanes* 73 38 30   5 81 220 228 21-12-3 17-18-2 8-2-0
4 Pittsburgh Penguins 71 40 24   7 87 213 195 20-10-5 20-14-2 5-3-2
5 Ottawa Senators 72 40 25   7 87 230 210 21-12-3 19-13-4 4-5-1
6 New York Rangers 72 37 26   9 83 188 177 22-13-1 15-13-8 7-2-1
7 Boston Bruins 72 37 27   8 82 188 200 19-14-4 18-13-4 4-4-2
8 Philadelphia Flyers 72 35 27   10 80 219 207 16-14-6 19-13-4 5-2-3
9 Buffalo Sabres 73 34 28   11 79 227 214 18-13-5 16-15-6 4-4-2
10 Washington Capitals 72 34 30   8 76 210 212 19-15-3 15-15-5 6-3-1
11 Florida Panthers 73 34 31   8 76 197 204 16-13-7 18-18-1 7-2-1
12 Toronto Maple Leafs 73 32 31   10 74 205 227 17-15-5 15-16-5 6-3-1
13 New York Islanders 73 32 34   7 71 176 219 17-16-3 15-18-4 2-8-0
14 Atlanta Thrashers 73 31 34   8 70 195 243 18-16-3 13-18-5 2-4-4
15 Tampa Bay Lightning 72 29 35   8 66 203 230 18-17-2 11-18-6 4-5-1
So, thankfully, the B's are in seventh. And they have the relative buffer of having eighth place Philadelphia and three points between them and Wash. But a win today, would go far to allay any fears that might be floating in the psyche of anyone who bleeds Black & Gold.

11:46 a.m.
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
Getting ready to head over to the Verizon Center, which I have never seen.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen much this time out, and there won't be too much of a photo album from this thip. It was pretty much - into town -- sleep -- hockey -- on a plane.

I do hope that we come back some time where I can get an afternoon to return to The Mall and see the sights. I am particularly wanting to see the WWII Memorial, as it was built after I came to Washington on "Close Up" back in 1993.

1:44 p.m.
Not much worse for a people person -- in case you haven't guessed, that's me -- than to be in a 18,000 seat arena, alone.

And that is where I find myself at this moment, with no text messages, no e-mails and no phone calls.

BTW: It hurts to be so popular, no autographs please.

In any case, I have left the relative safety of the B's locker room and the Washington Press Lounge, which is different than the Washington Press Club.

As the Bruins filed in to the building, the club seemed ready to take on the ultra hot Washington Caps, particularly after the boost provided by the Bruins overtime win on Saturday afternoon.

Aaron Ward spoke about his big goal yesterday. For those of us who will never end a pivotal NHL game with a overtime ending goal, I asked him to describe the feeling:

"It's just disbelief when you end it," said the veteran defenseman. "When you end it and you just realize that it's over

"There's no continuation of the game, it's all said and done.

"You've done something pretty big," he said, in a humble tone.

I can't imagine the feeling in the roomif Boston had not come back and the B's faced the Capitals in an even BIGGER game today here in Washington. As it is, Alex Auld (today's starter) and the B's will face the Capitals with Mr. Ovechkin and Co. already in high gear.

As you can see from the standings above, Washington is on the playoff bubble and really needs a win.

"It's the reality of the schedule and we have to face that," said B's head coach Claude Julien of the increased importance of every game down the stretch.

"We've got to try and handle it the best way we know how."

How is that?

That would be by playing Bruins hockey, of course!

2:34 p.m.
As expected, Alex Auld led the Bruins out of the room and I think it is now safe to say that Glen Murray will play in his 1000th career game. Now, there was nothing wrong with Glen, but I just did not want to jinx the whole thing.

A decent guess...
Stuart-Wideman (sg) Thomas
Ward-Ference (bg) Auld
Lashoff-Hnidy Go Bruins!

I must say that I like the way everyone looks in warmups, which obviously means nothing, but I do think that the momentum from yesterday has carried over. There is a bit of a swagger back in the B's strides.

Yesterday, Coach Julien saw today's game as one way that the B's could keep their share of "Big Mo."

"I think it’s kind of a relief, as far as what has happened to us," said Coach. "I’m kind of glad we don’t have any time to enjoy this, because I think we need to build on this, not sit on it. We need to go back out there tomorrow night and have that same kind of effort and try and get some momentum going our way here.

"So, I don’t mind the fact that we’re playing tomorrow, playing against a team, that I think, is so underrated. It’s good that we were able to get that win. Hopefully we can build on it."

Ok, my friends. I am on the Running Recap, today. See you over on the front page. JB

3:00 p.m.
PS> By the way, Vladimir Sobotka is listed as a scratch. I figure that puts him in the middle of Reich and Thornton. Schaefer is the other scratch.
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