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Chris Koves, a Caps fan since 1982, said if the team does make it to the conference finals, he would be happy with that. Mr. Koves, an Arlington resident, said his fandom began in 1982 - the year he was born.

“I’ve been a fan all my life. This is a young team, and they’ve had so much success recently. They are so close to doing some really good things,” Mr. Koves said.

He compared the excitement around the team to that of a college team.

“A Caps game is an event. It’s a party everybody wants to go to,” Mr. Koves said.

The hockey converts include Mr. Koves’ friend Mark Brook, a Southern California transplant who has lived in Ballston for less than three years, but he acknowledged that the Caps already have supplanted his former team, the San Jose Sharks.

“If they meet in the finals, I’ll be pulling for the Caps,” Mr. Brook said.

“I’ve been going to games all my life, and I go to Redskins and Wizards games. But the atmosphere at a Caps games is one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

Alexandria residents Lisa Gasparotti and Kristen Wheeler, sporting Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom jerseys, respectively, are mothers of autistic sons who play hockey.

Ms. Gasparotti recalled the day when her son, Sami, met Green, who posed for photos and spent time talking with her son. She bought her jersey the next day and has been an even bigger fan of the team since.

“The players spend time with the fans. They engage them,” Ms. Gasparotti said.

“They’re a great team. They play together so skillfully; it’s not a lot of individuals doing their own thing. It’s great to see them doing so well. When you go to Verizon Center, everyone is wearing red and everyone is screaming. It’s great,” Ms. Gasparotti said.

Ms. Wheeler said her son, Jacob, wants to be a goalie because of Michal Neuvirth, and her jersey was a present from her husband, who teases her about the intensity of her Caps fanaticism.

“The game is so passionate. It moves, it’s exciting, there’s constant motion,” Ms. Wheeler said.

It helps that the Caps are winning, but Ms. Wheeler said that’s not why she’s a fan.

“My son is glued when hockey is on. Nothing has ever engaged him like this. It’s just the best sport ever.”