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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » NHL: Washington Capitals - 10 Greatest Games
NHL: Washington Capitals - 10 Greatest Games
Warner Bros. // Unrated // March 23, 2010
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted April 4, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

I make no secret of the fact that I'm a fan of the Washington Capitals hockey franchise. But the team's cup wasn't always so full of financial milk and honey as it is now. I'm barely old enough to remember the "Save the Caps" campaigns that were started to keep the team in Washington; however, the team's acquisition of defenseman Rod Langway in a trade from the vaunted Montreal Canadiens in 1982 was the first piece of the puzzle for consecutive years of success in the regular season.

However, the puzzle was never quite complete. That success in the regular season was just that; the team could never make it to the next gear and translate that success into the playoffs, with a four-overtime loss in the wee hours of a 1987 Easter Sunday in the last game of a Best-of-Seven series against the New York Islanders, which served as the quintessential heartbreaker. The team would persevere and eventually appear in the 1997-98 Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the Detroit Red Wings in four games. Then, the dearth of talent within the Caps pipeline was starting to whither, and soon General Manager George McPhee found himself in what fans have called "The Rebuild." The philosophy was to trade a roster player for a prospect and draft pick, and more emphasis was placed on smarter drafting and landing a group of long-term talent.

The philosophy started to take hold when McPhee landed Alexander Ovechkin with the first overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft. The 6'2", 235-pound Russian-born left wing has since become a whirling dervish of activity when on the ice. Not only is his scoring talent prodigious, but he also has a desire to hit anyone who has the puck. He is a potentially generational talent with international appeal, something that the Washington, D.C., sports landscape has rarely seen. In early 2008, he signed a unprecedented 13-year contract to remain in Washington. McPhee has had continued to successfully draft players who are up-and-coming superstars in their own rights, including center Nicklas Backstrom and defenseman Mike Green. The result is a Caps team that seems to be on the verge of achieving greatness. With this in mind, the National Hockey League has decided to release what they believe are the ten "Greatest Games" collection from the Capitals. The list includes the following outings:

4/16/1988 - Dale Hunter scores the series' winner in overtime as the Caps beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 to win Game 7 of the Patrick Division semi-final.

4/17/1996 - In the Eastern Conference quarter-final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team rallies from a three-goal deficit to win 6-4.

6/4/1998 - Joe Juneau scores the overtime winner in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, and the Caps go onto their first (and only) Stanley Cup appearance.

10/5/2005 - Ovechkin's first NHL game is a sign of things to come; he scores two goals and helps vanquish the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2.

11/23/2007 - After more than a decade of coaching in various minor-league hockey systems, current Caps coach Bruce Boudreau makes his NHL debut a good one, with an overtime win against Philadelphia.

1/31/2008 - One in a continuing chapter in Ovechkin's book; hit someone, break your nose, and score four goals, including one in overtime to close out a 5-4 win against the Montreal Canadiens.

4/5/2008 - The team finishes an incredible regular season by winning 11 of their last 12, including this 3-1 finale against the Florida Panthers to gain their first playoff appearance in five years.

4/11/2008 - Ovechkin's first NHL playoff experience is equally memorable, with Ovechkin leading the team to a come-from-behind win over Philadelphia.

4/28/2009 - Russian legend Sergei Fedorov, in his first and last season with the Caps, provides the game-winning goal in Game 7 against the New York Rangers, leading the Caps to win 2-1 in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and advance to play Pittsburgh and superstar Sidney Crosby.

5/4/2009 - Ovechkin and Crosby live up to the hype, with each scoring a hat trick in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semi-final matchup, with the Caps winning 4-3.

Now at first glance, the list would appear to be slightly befuddling. Seven of the games are from 2005 or after, but there were certainly memorable moments pre-Ovechkin that could have made this list. As I understand it, there's been a archive deficiency for the team through the years, but still, this list is slightly disappointing because of some of the memories it omits. Yeah, the first playoff game was great, and the Ovechkin-Crosby matchup is great, but they both led to series losses, so who wants to remember that?

Sore feelings aside, I find it hard to begrudge the league (and the team) the opportunity to make a few bucks and give people who don't normally watch Ovechkin's antics the chance to watch some of his work. If nothing else, when we watched the games again, my wife was flinching and cheering at the same moments she was when we were watching the games from our arena seats, so getting a chance to recreate that for someone is always fun to watch.

Still though, there's a feeling that this collection feels incomplete and without some of the better moments. With this Capitals team, I can't help but feel that the best moments lie ahead, be it in 2010 or in future years, so I'm looking more toward whatever Volume Two will bring, rather than what Volume One has.

The Disc:
Video:

There's a couple different ones here; the first eight games are in 1.33:1 full frame, while the last two are in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the latter two presumably in part because the games aired in high-definition. These are straightforward reproductions of their original broadcasts, and there's been little to no noticeable edge enhancement or other noise issues in the image. Things look like they did when they first were on TV, right down to the cheesy graphics from the 1988 game.

Audio:

Two-channel Dolby stereo on all 10 games. Like the video, these are accurate and straightforward reproductions of the games, with hiss and mosquito noise at a minimum (assuming you can hear them at all). They sound fine.

Extras:

Zip, zero, nada, nil.

Final Thoughts:

The "Greatest Games" Collection for the Washington Capitals doesn't feel like it earned its name, but for fans of the team, it'll likely be picked up as a means to get yourself ready for the next big hockey hurdle (the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs). Hopefully, the boys can succeed to the point where these 10 games are replaced with a number of more exciting events, making this set as moot as possible. Recommended for fans of the team and worth a rental for hockey fans.

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