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‘They have the drive’: Capitals fans ecstatic about the team’s new season

"I am confident that we have the team to do it again," a Washington Capitals fan from Howard County, Maryland, told WTOP outside the Capital One Arena, where the Caps beat the Boston Bruins 7-0 in Wednesday's home opener. See photos.

WASHINGTON — Washington Capitals fans seem to be riding one giant hangover from the end of last season into the start of this one.

Before Wednesday’s home opener against the Boston Bruins, many fans showed up outside Capital One Arena in Northwest D.C. hours early to see players walk a red carpet. Lucky fans got to take selfies with Alex Ovechkin and company, as well as grab autographs.

There was also a strong turnout for the first outdoor viewing party of the year, in the usual spot at G and 7th streets Northwest outside the arena.

They watched the big video board in anticipation of a major moment — a confirmation that last season wasn’t just a wild dream. 

When they got their first look at the huge, red Stanley Cup Championship banner that would soon hang from the arena’s rafters, most cheered and applauded.

But, as the banner began to rise, the crowd quieted, and some people could be seen wiping away tears.

Inside the arena, the Caps and their fans enjoyed video montages of last season before the game. The fans, many decked in red and many sporting Ovechkin’s No. 8, sang along to “We Are the Champions” and shook their team-distributed glow sticks, The Associated Press reported.

“You are the world’s greatest fans,” Caps owner Ted Leonsis told the crowd, “and, tonight, we get to recognize the world’s greatest hockey team.”

The Caps went on to beat the Bruins 7-0 behind a pair of goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov and one apiece from Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie (just 24 seconds in), Nic Dowd, John Carlson and Lars Eller.

“They made it OK to believe,” said ceremony emcee John Walton, the Capitals’ radio voice.

Back outside the arena, fans shared their thoughts about what the new season might bring.

“I am confident that we have the team to do it again,” Kassie Coulson, of Howard County, Maryland, told WTOP. “I think they have the drive, and the fan base, and the backing.”

Marty Gottlieb, of Silver Spring, agreed. “I’m real excited. I mean, they brought back pretty much their entire team,” he said.

“The biggest concern I have is the loss of their backup goaltender (Philipp) Grubauer. He won a lot of games for us last season,” Gottlieb added. He also voiced a bit of uncertainty about the Caps’ new coach, Todd Reirden.

And that was something Todd Bolton, of Smithsburg, Maryland, brought up, too. “Barry Trotz is gone. He’s the fifth winningest coach in NHL history, and he made a difference, I believe,” Bolton said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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