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  Where to Go to Watch the Capitals
By M. Franco Salvoza Staff
Tuesday, June 9, 1998

    memorabilia Hockey memorabilia at the Penalty Box in Alexandria. (By Reginald A. Pearman Jr./
Surely you've noticed by now. White pom-poms and blue and gold jerseys are popping up around town, while water cooler chat centers around Olie "Godzilla" Kolzig's monstrous saves and Peter "Bonzai" Bondra's blistering slapshots.

Washington – not what you would call a hockey town historically – is warming up in a big way to the Capitals, now that the team has earned its first-ever playoff berth in the Stanley Cup Finals, hockey's equivalent to the Super Bowl. Unless you were lucky enough to get tickets for Games 3 and 4 at the MCI Center, chances are you'll have to catch the Finals action on TV, starting tonight at 8 on Fox. Don't stay home – join your fellow fans in chanting "Olie! Olie!" at one of these fine drinking and cheering establishments:

    Penalty Box At the sign of the stick and puck. (By Reginald A. Pearman Jr./
The Penalty Box
Probably the best recommendation for this cozy upstairs bar in Old Town (111 King St., Alexandria; 703/683-0313) comes from the Caps themselves – Adam Oates, Joe Juneau and Chris Simon are spotted here regularly on off nights. Owned by former Caps defenseman Bryan "Bugsy" Watson, this bar has a small section resembling a players' bench, while almost a dozen TVs and photos of classic hockey moments (remember Bobby Orr's 1970 Cup clincher?) adorn the walls. The 25-cent buffalo wings and $5.75 buckets of beer push "The Box" over the top, but show up early, as this tiny place has been jammed as early as an hour before game time.

Back when the Caps used to play at the USAir Arena in Landover, Langway's (9430 Annapolis Rd., Lanham; 301/577-7997) in suburban Maryland was only a handful of exits away from the game – perfect for a bite and beer before or after. Now that the Caps play downtown, this place is off the beaten Beltway path, but sure to be packed with diehard hockey fans. And yes, there's a reason the name sounds familiar – Langway's is owned by former Caps captain and defenseman Rod Langway.

Velocity Grill
Even if you don't have a game ticket, go early to the Velocity Grill inside MCI Center as a normal patron and watch the game there. Velocity boasts more than 88 monitors and flat-panel digital screens to catch all the breathtaking action. A hundred beer taps and your normal salad and sandwiches fare round out the offerings; but the electric atmosphere from inside the arena is sure to find its way down the concourse to the Velocity Grill.

Champions, a raucous Georgetown classic, always offers tasty fries and a wide selection of beer, not to mention a die-hard sports crowd.

    the Rock Caps fans react to a hockey game at the Rock. (By James M. Thresher/The Washington Post)
The Rock
Just a stone's throw from the MCI Center, expect the playoff atmosphere to waft over to this three-floor sports bar downtown. The Rock has TVs scattered over three floors, red-felt pool tables, a cigar lounge, a rooftop deck, Rolling Rock and tasty nachos for your added enjoyment.

Dave & Buster's
This amusement-park-in-a-mall is best known for housing dozens of the latest videogames, as well as virtual reality toys, pool tables and faux blackjack games. But the bar area at Dave & Buster's is quite roomy, with several dozen TVs on all four sides of the bar broadcasting all the action.

Damon's in Franconia
Though it has more of a family atmosphere than the others, Damon's in Franconia (7027 Manchester Blvd.; 703/719-0670) offers several huge screens and comfortable booths where you can stretch out, snack on the tasty ribs specialties and cheer the team on. In between periods try the free trivia game on the smaller monitors near the bar.

Crystal City Sports Pub
Crystal City Sports Pub, a gem tucked away in Crystal City, has expanded, giving pucks fans prime viewing options; TVs of many sizes are scattered throughout over several pool tables.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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