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Will Caps fans tune out the team without a title?


Will Caps fans tune out the team without a title?

It seems the folks at Bleacher Report enjoy poking the Caps fan base, and they've done it again. The latest BR proclamation said that the Washington Capitals need to bring home the Stanley Cup in the 2012-2013 season, or risk losing some fans.
"If ownership wants to continue to have a successful franchise, the real winning must start now," Bleacher Report said. "Yes, Capitals fans are loyal, but their patience is running out. Anything other than a Stanley Cup Championship is now considered a failure."
The authors point out the differences in the D.C. hockey crowd between diehard fans who will always attend Caps games, and some of the newer fans, attracted to the winning team and the successful branding and marketing efforts seen inside the Verizon Center.
Last season, the Caps snuck into the playoffs after a disappointing regular season that featured a coaching change. More mediocrity, and early round playoff exits, and the Bleacher Report crew expects empty seats for Caps hockey.
Maybe new coach Adam Oates will be able to get this talented collection of Capitals to perform at their highest level, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. If he does, the Caps will continue to enjoy great crowds at Verizon Center. But if the Caps stumble early in the season, or worse, what happens?
There has long been a feud between the bandwagon Caps crowd and the diehards; is this the year the bandwagon fans stop showing up?
Also a quick link to the District Sports Page. They've got some great pics of Rod Langway taking in the Potomac Nationals game at Washington Capitals Day yesterday. Slapshot and the Red Rockers also attended the minor league baseball game. I think the cross-sports D.C. promotional scene is a good thing; let me know what you think. I know for some it is a transparent attempt at selling more tickets and merchandise, but maybe I just dont have my cynic shades on today.

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Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.

The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.

Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”

The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.

February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.

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3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.

Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.

Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.

2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.

Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.

3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.

Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.