April and I love hockey. We’re big fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets (her) and the Washington Capitals (me). With both of our teams poised to go to the postseason, we decided to do a playoffs edition of our annual hockey+beer post, Pucks and Pints.
And then we found out we were playing each other in Round 1.
But we wrote on, and also had fun texting each other and doing what we do best when we watch hockey: drink beer. Read on to see how we’re handling the best and most stressed time of the NHL season.
Each year, Sonora and I discuss our favorite hockey teams and the beer we love drinking while attending the games. Well this year is no different except for the fact that our favorite teams battled it out in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in history.
It looked promising for the Jackets, who took a 2-0 lead in the series while on the road. My son and I attended the first home game back in Columbus, hopeful the Jackets would take a commanding 3-0 lead. After three periods, the score was tied. It took double OT to decide the outcome. Unfortunately the outcome wasn’t in the Blue Jackets favor. Washington won and proceeded to win the next three games, beating the Jackets and ending their season. It was a hard fought, HIGH anxiety series. The best way to calm my nerves – DRINK!
Nationwide Arena has come a long way when it comes to craft beer stands, more and more show up each year. One thing that stood out to me this year was that Brew Dog had taken over. They have beer stands throughout the arena, and brew my drink of choice during the playoffs – Hazy Jane. A Vermont Style IPA with plenty of fruit character including pineapple, stonefruit, mango and hints of lime peel. Smooth going down and it tasted even better in my new playoff cup. Another favorite during the season was Land Grant’s Beard Crumbs, an oatmeal raisin stout.
I’m still licking my wounds from the early exit but don’t feel too bad for the CBJ. It was a great season with highs and lows and many milestones achieved for the organization, from rookies breaking franchise records to being the third team in NHL history to post a win streak of 10+ games in consecutive seasons. Last year the Jackets went on a 16 game win streak, the second longest win streak in NHL history, one short of tying the record held by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Speaking of the Pittsburgh Penguins, if there’s one thing our teams have in common, it’s that we get crushed in the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins (and we despise them). I’m sure Sonora will be on edge of her seat for the second round against the Pens. Best of Luck!
There’s a famous tweet that me and other fans retweet every year come playoffs time. It says, “Why watch overtime playoff hockey when you can just snort cocaine and ride a motorcycle out of a helicopter?” There’s no better way to describe the playoffs.
The Capitals are notoriously unlucky in the postseason. We’ve never won a Stanley Cup and haven’t made it to the Stanley Cup finals since 1998. The past two years have been especially hard because we built a monster team, one that killed it all season and won the President’s Trophy twice in a row, and then lost in Round 2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It’s a tense time but it’s a fun time. You cannot beat the energy of a playoffs game. The teams play harder and the fans cheer louder. My husband and I went to Game 1 of Round 1 against the Blue Jackets. We were there for their first loss — a disappointment, even with some decent beer in the arena. I bought Devil’s Backbone Eight Point IPA in an attempt to conjure luck for the Great 8 himself, Alex Ovechkin; but alas, the game went to overtime and we lost.
I am superstitious when it comes to sports and I channel those superstitions through beer. Each postseason, I have an ongoing charm: I never drink beer from the opposing team’s state during a given series. I gave up all Ohio beers during our series against the Blue Jackets, and I’m on my third annual giving up of all Pennsylvania beers as we face the Penguins. Maybe third time’s the charm?
My husband, though, seems to have discovered his own charm. He doesn’t like sour beer. As we watched Game 5 of Round 1 in a bar, he sampled Kindred Spirit’s Boyzen da Hood and liked it. He ordered a pint – and the Caps won in overtime.
For Game 6, he bought a pack of Three Notch’d Passionfruit Gose, and drank one during the game. The Caps won and advanced to the next round.
We went to Game 1 of Round 2 against our notorious playoffs villain and had no beer. The Caps lost. Game 2 is today (April 29), and we’ve still got the Passionfruit Gose in the fridge. Three guesses what he (and I) will be drinking!
Win or lose, hockey is a blast to watch and I do look forward to cheering on the Caps with a beer in hand and the hope I cling to despite repeated postseason losses. It’s got to turn around sometime, and I’ll be there to toast them with a pint when it does.