“Country roads, take me home/To the place I belong/West Virginia, mountain mama/Take me home, country roads.”
There in the midst of the team’s successful five-game, 10-day road trip, Oshie’s individual goal song was born: “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” by John Denver. It was played after Oshie’s tying goal Monday night in the Capitals’ eventual 4-3 shootout loss to Arizona, and fans quickly took notice and sung along — exactly how Oshie planned it.
“There’s different ways to pick a goal song,” Oshie said. It is either “something that is important to you and gets you going or gets the crowd going, so I figured the best part of playing in front of our fans is them getting involved, and I figured everyone, or at least most everyone, knows at least the chorus of ‘Country Roads.’ ”
As some fans have begun to recognize, the Capitals this season have decided to let players choose their own goal songs at Capital One Arena. Some have been more keen on the decision than others, but all agree the ability to personalize their celebrations has benefits.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Oshie, who has been advocating for individual goal songs since appreciating baseball’s walk-up music as a spectator at a St. Louis Cardinals game six years ago. “I think it’s cool for the guys to express themselves a little bit and a way to get the crowd into it, and you know with what the Nats did with the one song in particular over there, I think it’s a cool thing.”
Just a few Capitals have chosen goal songs for the remainder of the seasons, with the rest either still deciding or having no preference, in which case the team’s game operations staff makes the call.
For example, Lars Eller, who is nicknamed “Tiger,” has had Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” play after his goals. The nickname originated when Eller was asked during a team seminar in 2017 to name his spirit animal and he yelled out, “Tiger!”
John Carlson, who has 30 points (eight goals, 22 assists) in 20 games, was given “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry, and “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band was chosen for Evgeny Kuznetsov, in reference to his signature bird celebration. When Tom Wilson has scored, the arena has played “Whip It” by Devo, a nod to one of Wilson’s nicknames, “Whip.”
But as players have started to catch on, some jumped at the chance to make their own choices.
Kuznetsov wants his new goal song to be “Get Low” by Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, but a misunderstanding Monday meant that “How Low” by Ludacris was played after his two goals against Arizona. Kuznetsov quickly made the correction and is now set for his next home goal.
Kuznetsov, who said he was told his choices were limited to “French, Spanish, English but not the Russian for some reason — it is not allowed,” heard the Lil Jon song on the video game “Need for Speed: Underground,” which was released on multiple platforms in 2003.
Kuznetsov is a big fan of hip-hop and rap, which is big in Russia. He said he has a lot of friends who are popular artists in his home country and “believes they are friends with me, too.” He can relate more to their songs, the way they rap about things closer to home, and at the end of the day, Russian always will be his first language.
“For me, it doesn’t matter what type of music. I still don’t understand half of the song,” Kuznetsov said.
Captain Alex Ovechkin’s pick is “Still D.R.E.” by Dr. Dre, a song that he chose for the NHL All-Star Game. He agreed with Kuznetsov, saying he would prefer to use a Russian song, but “Still” is at the top of his list.
“I just love that song,” Ovechkin said. “I think people get pumped to listen, and it is pretty sick.”
The list continues with center Nic Dowd, who chose “You Can Call Me Al,” by Paul Simon. A good “old school singalong song,” he said his wife’s family introduced it to him, and the couple used it as the recessional song at their wedding.
Forward Brendan Leipsic, who scored on the road Wednesday in the Capitals’ 2-1 shootout win against Philadelphia, picked “Levels” by Avicii. Reason: “It’s a banger.” Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler hasn’t made his official choice but thinks “Kids” by MGMT, released in 2007, would be a popular choice and a good way to get the crowd into it.
Center Nicklas Backstrom chose Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” the 1987 version, a song he remembers from his youth.
“I think it’s cool, but, yeah, I don’t care too much,” Backstrom said. “I don’t score too often. Sometimes here and there.”
Others such as Jakub Vrana are still deciding. Vrana said he’s very picky with his song choices, and because he likes so many tunes — he has a dedicated playlist — he needs a while to think it through. He has considered what “Americans in D.C.” like to listen to but thinks he will just choose the one he likes best. The Capitals’ next game at home is Friday against Montreal.
“I’ve been saying for the last six to seven years now that we should have our own goal songs, so it’s cool,” Oshie said.
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