April 27, 2011
The Caps are enjoying some much deserved rest as they wait for the second round of playoffs to begin. The team ousted the New York Rangers on Saturday in a less than dramatic 3-1 win. They returned to Washington for Game 5 after winning Game 4 in a double-OT nail-biter. Despite being the No. 1 seed, the Caps were viewed with scrutiny as they are struggled to advance past the first two rounds in recent years. They had a poor record against the Rangers this season. Jason Chimera was the hero of the night, scoring 12:36 into the second over-time and pushing the Rangers to the brink of elimination. The Rangers held a demanding 3-0 for most of Game 5, but third period goals by Alexander Semin and Marcus Johansson (who scored twice) brought the Caps back to life and set up the overtime win.
The Caps will face either the Sabres or Flyers in the next round; the teams are going to a deciding Game 7, which the Caps will undoubtedly be watching closely. While the Caps are enjoying some time off, they are still practicing and focusing on moving past Round 2. Coach Bruce Boudreau knows that this is just the beginning, telling reporters outside of their training facilities on Monday: “There is plenty of work left. The story now will be, ‘Well, they haven’t made it through the second round since 1998 or something.’” It’s true, 1998 was the team’s last (and only) Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Winning only 1 out of their 3 weekend matches against the Pirates, the Nats have again fallen to under .500 (10-11). Surprisingly, they are only third in their division with both the Braves (11-13) and Mets (9-13) struggling not to fall irretrievably behind. Off-season investment and Philadelphia transplant Jayson Werth hasn’t made good on the $126 million price tag. He was only hitting .214 with five RBI’s and three homeruns going into Sunday’s loss to the Pirates. The first baseman voiced his frustration to reporters, saying, “I feel like I know what I need to do, which sometimes, I guess, the biggest obstacle is figuring out what exactly is wrong and working in that direction. I’m not lost, so that’s good. It’s close. I feel like it’s close.” Let’s hope Werth’s bat wakes up soon. The Nats start a three-game series against said Mets today, both teams hoping to improve their records and move up in the standings.
Before the Expos were uprooted and renamed the Nationals, many Washingtonians had another home team: the Baltimore Orioles. For the first time in many years, the Birds started off the season looking well, good. They were at the top of the standings ahead of both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately, after two three-game matches against the Yanks (Friday’s game was postponed.) and a series against the Indians, the Orioles have fallen to the bottom of their division and are now a lousy 8-12. The good news is that the season is still early, and there’s plenty of time for the Baltimore Birds to channel some of that early season magic. Next, they will host the Red Sox, who themselves are struggling to keep up with New York.
Though the owner-imposed NFL lockout has been lifted, there have been no noticeable changes to the situation. A handful of Redskin players reported to Redskins Park on Monday, only to be told to go home. It remains to be seen whether or not players will begin to workout and train on team property, or if they will wait until a new agreement is reached. Whenever the players do return, they will have some company. The NFL draft begins this Thursday, and the Redskins have been vocal about filing several holes in their roster.