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  For Caps, It's Time to Bring Out the Animal
By Tony Kornheiser
Washington Post Columnist
Tuesday, June 16, 1998; Page D1


Tony Kornheiser

For inspiration I quote now from Joseph Blutarsky's impassioned speech in "Animal House":

"Over? Did somebody say 'Over'? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!"

("Germans?")

("Forget it, he's rolling.")

"And it ain't over now. Cause when the going gets tough . . . the tough get going. Who's with me?"

I'm with you!

Wormer, he's a dead man. Niedermayer? Dead. Marmalard? Dead. Fedorov? Osgood? Yzerman? Dead.

You think the Red Wings have this series in hand? Don't make me laugh.

(Well, actually, if you can make me laugh with a good joke, please fax it to me, and I'll use it in my annual New Year's joke column.)

Pardon me, I digress.

The Red Wings? Ha! Don't make me laugh.

Oh, sure, the Red Wings think they're sitting pretty now. Their fans wore their jerseys to MCI Center Saturday night and chanted "Sweep! Sweep!" And if that weren't enough, they hurled the final insult at us, literally — a freakin' octopus!

There it was on the ice at the end of the game, an octopus.

(Do you think a Red Wings fan hauled that all the way from Detroit in his pants? Man, that must have been one gamey bus ride. By the way, I have to say I was appalled by the amount of folks wearing Red Wings jerseys Saturday. There must have been 3,000 of them. How many of them were really Red Wings fans — and how many were typical Washington politicians, trying to switch over hastily to the winning side?)

But let's look at the bright side:

How about all those savants in Detroit who predicted the Red Wings would sweep the Caps in three, and there wouldn't even be a fourth game.

Well, what are we playing tonight, arena football?

Speaking of football, Washington would be in much better shape if this were the Redskins against the Lions. The Lions have never beaten the Redskins in Washington. You could look it up. The Lions couldn't beat the Redskins if the Redskins walked off the field at the start of the fourth quarter. Sadly, these aren't the Lions, and Scotty Bowman isn't Wayne Fontes.

Hey, you know what I just thought of — Michael Jordan's got nothing to do tonight. He loves Wilbon. You think he'd come here and play on the same line with Oatesy and Joe Juneau? Jordan can beat Detroit. He's been beating them this whole decade.

I've read that no team since the Maple Leafs in 1942 has come back from love-three to take the Cup, and consequently Ron Wilson is extolling his players to "Remember 1942." (Which may be too much for hockey players to remember, since they already have to remember to wash their hands after using the facility, and remember to dial 10-321.)

Boy, would I love to be a fly on the wall when Wilson starts talking about the 1942 Maple Leafs. Wilson has been so strong talking about karma, and ghosts and demons, and so effective asking for a volunteer to be the Caps' Neil Armstrong. I think Wilson should make that speech from "Henry V," when Henry exhorts his troops on the eve of the battle of Agincourt, telling them to fight fiercely by his side against terrible odds and promising them that everywhere in England, when the story of the battle is told, "We in it shall be remembered. . . . We few, we happy, we band of brothers." Wilson should tell the Capitals that's exactly what the Toronto coach (Bowman, no doubt) told the Maple Leafs in 1942. How would they know different? How many of the Caps know Shakespeare? They probably think he played right wing for Winnipeg.

Of course for the 1998 Capitals to emulate the 1942 Maple Leafs — which, I believe, was the team Dale Hunter broke in with — they'll probably have to alter their offensive strategy. I'm not a hockey expert, but it occurs to me that to score a goal you actually have to shoot the puck; I heard Bowman say that at a Mensa meeting once. This was a problem for the Caps in the first period the other night, when they managed just one shot.

That is not a misprint. One shot in the entire period. Maybe they thought it was soccer.

You don't have to have Terry Sawchuk in goal to stop one shot per period. Chris Osgood can stop one shot per period. Charles Osgood can stop one shot per period.

By the time the Capitals recorded their second shot, Detroit already had 16. Again, I'm no hockey expert, but 16-1, that bites, right?

I probably should admit here that I'm feeling a little stupid for bringing Tony's Zamboni into play. Down 0-3, it would appear that my Zamboni is lying at the side of the road like a junker, with its tires flat and its giant roller rusted. But if I feel stupid, how stupid do you think the people in promotions here at The Post feel about the giant sign they've got up facing M Street — the one that's shaped like a clipboard with the number "4" on it?

The idea was that after each Caps win we'd rip down a number, from 4 to 3 to 2 to 1, until the Caps had won The Cup. This is the motif Wilson had been employing in the Caps locker room, where in successive series against Boston, Ottawa and Buffalo, he'd ripped down numbers from 16 to 4. It must have seemed so promising last week when our 20-foot sign went up.

Except we're still on "4."

And it looks like we'll be on "4" for the rest of the millennium.

At the moment our giant "4" appears to be an ad for George Michael.

But let's not lose faith.

How tough can it be to beat the Red Wings four straight?

Okay, let me rephrase that.

They're not gods. They put their pants on the same way the Caps do — and their pants are red! They look like skating tomatoes out there. How dare they throw octopus at us? We should throw basil and mozzarella cheese at them.

Oh, you might find it instructive that after falling behind 0-3, the team Toronto came back to beat in 1942 was Detroit.

Let's hear it now, all together: "Remember 1942!"

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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