Classy. The Washington Nationals are not as near and dear to my heart as the Baltimore Orioles, but they did something super awesome on Thursday, when they had Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward throw out the first pitch before their game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ward getting the opportunity to throw out the first pitch after a career year is cool enough on its own, but doubly so because it came on Jackie Robinson Day at Nats Park. Ward wears #42 in honor of the Dodger legend.
After getting some advice from Nats pitcher Ross Detwiler, Ward stepped to the mound confidently and delivered a perfect strike. Though the heave was a bit of a moonshot.
On Wednesday, Washington Capitals third-round pick Chandler Stephenson played in his first game as a Hershey Bear. His team battled the Norfolk Admirals, with whom they were tied in points for eighth and final postseason spot but held the tiebreaker, on the road.
What could be a bigger downer than giving an interview right after missing playoffs by by just four points? How about giving an interview after missing two playoffs by four points in two months! Because’s that’s what happened to Evgeny Kuznetsov: first in the KHL, when last year’s Gagarin Cup finalist Traktor came up short, then again when the Caps missed their chance by the same margin.
That was on Kuznetsov ‘s mind when we chatted on breakdown day.
But what of the Caps’ Swedes? After winning a silver medal in Sochi, Marcus Johansson will likely not represent his home country due to a broken arm. On Thursday, Pär Mårts, Sweden’s national team coach, told Svenska Dagbladet that Nicklas Backstrom has turned down an invitation to play in the tournament this year.
When asked why, Mårts said Backstrom won’t be playing “for family reasons.”
Before he became the Caps’ radio play-by-play guy, John Walton did public announcements for the Cincinnati Reds and called three Hershey Bears Calder Cup championships. He’s already had a great career, but tonight he’s be calling the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs for NBC Sports. That’s a whole ‘nother level.
If you tuned into NBCSN, you heard the dulcet tones of @WaltonCaps telling the story of the Anaheim Ducks vs the Dallas Stars.
Every year I’ve enjoyed watching the Jerseys off Our Backs ceremony. It was always fun watching fans and players interacting in that fashion. And every year, afterwards I would turn to my mother and say, “Someday that’s gonna be me.”
Last Tuesday I came home from work to the surprise of a lifetime from my mother.
“So, I just got off the phone with our new ticket rep… She just called to say ‘hello’ and chat…. Oh, and by the way we’re doing Jerseys Off Our Back on Sunday.”
I almost cried when I heard those words. Our family had never won ANY prizes through the Season Ticket Holder contests, so this was a gigantic surprise. For the next few days, it was all I had on my mind: Who would I get?? Someone I adore?? Will I be able to retain composure, or would I be overcome by teh feels and crumple to the ice in a teary ball?
Sunday came around, and two periods of hockey later, I was leaving 104 for the last time this season to check in for the event. I ended up being early, so I caught the first half of the third period from the top of the steps. But soon, we all had envelopes in our hands and were making our way downstairs to wait for the end of the game. Overtime and the shootout was spent in a hallway by the visiting locker room, so we had no TV to watch the end of the game on. Thankfully, the guy in front of me got CSN on his smartphone so we were able to see the (unfortunate) end of the game. Once the Lightning had made their way to the locker room, we all headed out onto the ice!
My hands were shaking. I was gonna be third to go, which was better than first, but I still had the jitters. Soon enough the spotlight was on me and I was told to open my envelope. I was overjoyed by the number inside: 16.
John Carlson, drafted in 2008, is the most recent Caps defenseman selected in the first round. (Photo: Andre Ringuette/Getty)
Reading the comments in Ian’s post covering the draft lottery, most fans seem convinced that the Capitals must select Haydn Fleury with their 13th pick, if he’s available. It’s easy to see why: Fleury, who plays for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, is a responsible defenseman in a draft dominated by forwards. It is likely that 13 out of the 15 top picks will be forwards. And the Caps blue line struggled with injuries and inconsistency all year long. Defense hasn’t been Washington’s forte for the better part of the Ovechkin era, and those defensive shortcomings have often been pegged as the key to the Caps’ early playoff exits (or, this year, pre-playoff exits).
Despite all of this, I’ll disagree with the notion that the Caps should select Fleury, or any other defenseman, with their first-round pick.
The Stanley Cup playoffs start today, and the Washington Capitals aren’t a part of it. While that sucks, life must go on. The good news is that the quarterfinal round is the best week or two of hockey all year, and there’s a bunch of good match-ups to watch. There’s also a couple of garbage match-ups too, but what are you gonna do?
I’ve asked the RMNB crew to share their brackets, and they did, and they’re all really bad. Even mine is bad. Not as bad as theirs, but still really, really bad. Making predictions is a sucker’s game.
Come read our stupid predictions and share your own in the comments!
Head coach Adam Oates of the Washington Capitals is. That sentence is still correct in the present tense. I’m astonished.
This is not another article listing the problems with Adam Oates, or even the problems with George McPhee. This is an article, the last in a series, describing the Capitals on a week-to-week basis using quantified analysis. If at any point the following article reads like a hitpiece against Caps coaching or management, that’s only because the math totally hates them. It’s not me, I swear.
Also, I think Dmitry Orlov is gonna be real good someday. Let’s do the numbers one more time!