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 Capitals Section
 NHL Section

  Finally, Players Getting Recognition
By Rachel Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 8, 1998; Page B10

Capitals Logo The Washington Capitals, who usually practice in front of no more than a dozen people, skated onto the ice at their Piney Orchard facility yesterday to find more than 600 fans waiting for them. The Capitals leave today for Detroit, where they will face the Red Wings in Tuesday's Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

"Now we are starting to get watched closely around here, and it feels really good," right wing Peter Bondra said. "We had a [neighborhood] block party and there was a big cake for us and a sign that said, 'Go Caps.' Everywhere we go, people start recognizing you — it's not like before. Now they say good job, or even when you are driving in your car they wave at you and say good job."

A group of young boys spent much of the practice chanting, "Olie! Olie!" and were rewarded when goaltender Olaf Kolzig was among several players who signed autographs after they got off the ice. Many of the fans were dressed in Capitals clothing, and a few had signs, including one that read, "The Eagle Has Landed." . . .

Left wing Todd Krygier, who missed the final two games of the Eastern Conference finals with a groin injury, participated in the practice and said he is feeling better. So is defenseman Jeff Brown, who has missed the playoffs with post-concussion syndrome, although Coach Ron Wilson said he isn't sure when either player will be worked back into the lineup.

"I don't know if Todd will be able to play in the first game because he had some days off, but he said he felt really good," Wilson said. "I didn't talk to Jeff; I don't know how he feels. . . . I said, 'Stick another pin in your head,' because he's been getting all this acupuncture like Paul [Kariya] to get over the post-concussion syndrome. When he feels good, if he can contribute, he'll play. I wouldn't hesitate to throw him in there if I think he can get the job done." . . .

Right wing Brian Bellows missed practice to spend an extra day in Minnesota with his pregnant wife, who is due in a couple of weeks. If the baby is born during the finals, Bellows said Capitals owner Abe Pollin has offered to fly him home to be present for the delivery.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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