May 3, 2011
While the Caps are known for continually making it to the playoffs, they may be better known for not playing very well once they arrive. The team finished the season at the top of their division, ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning, whom they had trailed most of the season. In Round 1, they skated past the Rangers in five games, but Round 2 has them down two games to none to the Lightning. The Lightning embarrassed them at home twice last week, including an overtime heartbreaker last night. After a first game loss on Friday, the Caps seemed poised to even it up 1-1 on their home turf that last night. Unfortunately, the team was unable to capitalize on power plays and looked sluggish against the aptly-named “Lightning”. While Ovechkin was able to tie the score with just 68 seconds left in regulation, overtime was over just as quickly as it had begun. Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier scored his second goal of the game just over 6 minutes into overtime.
The teams will resume play tomorrow with two games scheduled in Florida before turning to Washington. While the Lightning are riding a 5-game winning streak, the Caps are not conceding anything yet. They were in a similar position two years ago, when they overcame a 2-0 game deficit to beat the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. While he was no doubt disappointed, Ovechkin is resilient and isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. “Well, the series is not over,” he told reporters after the game. “We’re going there and we’re going to win two games. It is going to be hard, but right now in this situation, we have to win.”
While the Nats played poorly against the Mets, losing both Tuesday and Wednesday’s games, they avoided getting swept by New York, winning 4-3 on Thursday. Friday saw them start a four-game weekend series against the Giants, in which they’ve won two of three games. The Giants have been unable to score more than two runs against the Nats in three straight games, falling to the Nats again yesterday 5-2. Their two runs were scored in the second; afterwards the team was shut out and pitcher Jordan Zimmerman held them to just four hits over the next seven innings. The win was an ERA-booster to Zimmerman, who entered Sunday’s game with a 4.55 ERA and left it with an improved ERA of 4.29. Ivan Rodriguez was the other standout for the Nats, snagging two hits, a run and two RBI’s.
Tonight’s game will conclude the four-game series between San Francisco and Washington, and in a serendipitous turn of events, tonight is Military Appreciation Night at Nationals Park. The event was planned far in advance, but falls on the heels of the announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden. It will no doubt be a memorable night, transcending much more than baseball.
Despite a court injunction that reinstated the players’ lockout, there was a much needed injection of life into the NFL via the 2011 Draft this past weekend. The first round started on Thursday, when the Redskins were slated to have the No. 10 pick. Surprisingly (or not), the Skins opted to trade down for more picks in subsequent rounds. They gave up their 10th pick for the 16th in the first round and the 49th in the second round. They continued this trend in following rounds as well, ending up with 12 picks overall. The No. 1 pick was Purdue University defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, whom they hope will play outside linebacker opposite Brian Orakpo. Noticeably absent from their draft selections was a quarterback pick, leaving fans wondering if McNabb will stay, if the team’s going to take a chance on Rex Grossman or if they’re going to use free agency to fill that gap. Stay tuned!