Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday Puck Talk Week #11

This week, I look at the Capitals and Penguins rivalry, HBO 24/7, the World Juniors, and Sidney Crosby's point streak.

Leave comments, questions, or suggestions for next week! Leave them here or email

Monday, December 27, 2010

Caps' Kids in WJC: Day 2

While yesterday all five of the Caps World Juniors prospects were in action, only Philipp Grubauer of Germany.  Despite giving up four goals in the first period of his debut yesterday and being pulled after that period, he got the nod again tonight.  This time he got through the first without a problem, stopping every piece of rubber that came his way.  He let in a goal just eight seconds into the second period, Germany was able to recover and tie it up at one before the end of the frame.

Grubauer held up under siege toward the end of the third period, and the teams headed into overtime tied at 1.  Just over a minute into the extra frame, Germany took a penalty.  Slovakia was able to convert with just under a minute and a half before the shootout would have begun.

This brings Grubauer’s World Junior record to 0-1-1.  He doesn’t have as strong a team to work with as the other Caps prospects, as last year Germany wasn’t even eligible for the tournament.  The overtime loss to Slovakia is respectable for the German program.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), Cody Eakin and team Canada take on the Czech Republic at 4:00pm.  Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and the rest of team Russia will take on Marcus Johansson’s home land in team Sweden at 7:00pm.  Patrick Wey and team USA will play Slovakia at 8:00pm, while Grubauer and team Germany get their first day off of the tournament.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Caps' Kids in WJC: Day 1

The 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships began today in Buffalo, N.Y, and all five of the Caps prospects participating in the tournament were in action. It began today at 12:30 when Germany took on Switzerland. Prospect Philipp Grubauer minded the net for the German team, who had to fight back from an early 4-0 Swiss lead in the first period.  While Germany would go on to score three goals, it wouldn't be enough to complete the comeback and Grubauer picked up his first loss of the tournament.  He was relieved by backup Niklas Treutle during the first intermission.

At 4:00 pm, excitement filled the air as longtime rivals Canada and Russia faced off to open their tournament play. Three of the Caps prospects played in that game, with Cody Eakin suiting up for Canada and Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov playing for Russia. Eakin played a feisty game, creating chances for himself and his linemates. He even drew a penalty, even though he took a slashing call halfway through the third period as well. Overall, he did his job and filled his role, helping Canada to a 6-3 victory over Russia.

Capitals @ Hurricanes Preview 12/26/10 (Video)

Despite a snowstorm, the Capitals were able to make it to Raleigh the day after Christmas to take on the Hurricanes for the fourth time this season.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

World Junior Championship 2011 Preview

A look at this year's World Junior Championship, which starts tomorrow. Team Canada and Team Russia will face off, while Team USA will play at 8pm on NHL Network.  Team USA looks to win just their 3rd gold medal in tournament history and their 2nd in two years.

Who do you think will win the tournament? And which of the Caps prospects will impress the most? Will there be another John Carlson-like moment, and if so who will have it? The journey begins tomorrow. Comment or email in your thoughts!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Caps Bear Down in 5-1 Win

The 2010 Calder Cup championship team seems to be the gift that keeps on giving.  Three representatives of the 2009-2010 Hershey Bears scored tonight in the Capitals’ 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils: Andrew Gordon, Jay Beagle, and John Carlson (in that order).  At a time when the teams’ top players are dry on offense, it was a boost the Caps needed.

The youthful injection was visible from the start.  The Caps’ younger Gordon scored at 16:41 into the game, a game that had little momentum or intensity until that moment.  It was his first career NHL goal in his fifth career NHL game.

“It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Gordon said, “I came here wanting to contribute and show I could do it up here.  I’ve had a couple of opportunities the last few games but finally got a nice one to squeak through on a great pass.”  Gordon later added an assist on Jason Chimera’s goal, recording the first multi-point NHL game of his career.  Chimera reached a milestone on the play too, notching his 200th career point.

Beagle would be the next Bear to contribute.  His goal came almost halfway through the game, at the 10:01 mark of the second period.  It also felt good for Beagle to get a goal against Martin Brodeur, a player he grew up watching.  “Marty, you know, he’s an intimidating guy,” Beagle said, “I saw him in warm-up, and grew up watching him, and to score on him was obviously a great thing.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday Puck Talk Week #10

We skipped over week 9, but here is week 10. I talk Perreault, 24/7, Pens and more.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Capitals @ Bruins Preview (Video) 12/18/10

A look at tonight's fourth and final meeting between the Capitals and the Bruins.

Remember to send in suggestions for Tuesday Puck talk! Leave them in the comments or email in at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Apologies and Looking Forward

A Surprising Balance

Last night, the hockey world watched the premiere of HBO’s 4 part series, 24/7 Penguins Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic.  Expectations were through the roof, and HBO Sports had a lofty history of the 24/7 series and Hard Knocks to live up to.  It did that: and then some.

Every single aspect of this show was impeccable.  I will get to the editing and production in a little bit.  An entire book could be written on that alone.  The first thing I noticed when the show started was how even it was.  They must have taken a stopwatch to the footage to be as accurate as they were.  There was the exact same amount of time spent on each team and its players.

You may say “Well, that’s their job,” and you’d be right.  But the fact is that objectivity is hard to fully achieve.  While everyone in the media is supposed to be completely unbiased, that isn’t the case.  Just tune in to any locally broadcast sporting event and you will see the bias.  It isn’t intentional, but when you spend enough time with someone, you tend to take their side in matters.  Beat reporters are glued to the hip of their team, and it can result in coverage that is a little slanted.

Using this same logic, you would think that the HBO producers would have developed biases by now, seeing every aspect of the life of every player on each team.  If they have, none of it showed through in the broadcast.  Not being partial after following someone for 24 hrs a day is incredible to me all on its own.

And that’s before you get to the actual production of the show.  Let’s start with the editing.  I don’t know how many of you have ever edited video, but it’s a fairly painful process.  It’s awesome to watch the final product come together, but you want to include everything.  You can’t but you want to, and it makes cutting very difficult. 

They have 24/7 footage of two teams, their coaches, and select players to go through.  That’s not including game footage.  Snipping all that down to 55 minutes is difficult enough, even without the quick turnaround.  The show aired Wednesday and contained material from Sunday night.  For some perspective, I did a 1-minute sports update every week for our TV station that included B-roll. It took me 20 minutes to edit. Now imagine having to do that with 24/7 worth of footage for a 55-minute show.  Yeah, not a single member of that crew slept the last two nights.

The most impressive part of the show for me was the scene that tracked the Caps’ 7-0 shutout loss at Madison Square Garden.  The music choice was phenomenal, building a mood that brought you through what the players were feeling.  The lack of narration gave it such a feel of raw emotion.  One of the most personal speeches given was also heard during the 2nd intermission, when assistant coach Dean Evanson told them to “Pick up your sock,” and “F-ckin’ compete.”  It was an emotionally charged segment that really gave the audience a look into the psyche of the Capitals.

If this is a glimpse of what is to come, than yes please.  The opening episode had all the makings of an Emmy Award-winning series.  Hopefully the fates of the teams will change slightly so that we can get a more complete look at all the personalities, but so far, this show gets a huge A+.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Panthers @ Capitals Preview (Video) 12/9/10

Here is a preview of the first meeting of the season between the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals.  The Caps swept the series last season.

Remember to send in questions for PFC Dowd to  Its also never too early or Puck Talk suggestions!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Send in your Questions for PFC Dowd!

For those of you who follow me on twitter, you know I have a brother in the Army who I refer to as PFC Dowd.  He is currently training and getting ready to head to Special Forces selection camp.  He will be home over Christmas, and I'm going to interview him for a video.  

So I'm sending this out to all of you: What do you want me to ask him? It doesn't have to be Army-related, but if that is what you're curious about, ask!  He is also very politically savvy and loves hockey, so those questions would work as well.

Leave questions in the comments or email them in at  

I hope to give you what you want, so send them in!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Puck Talk Week #8

This week I cover the Capitals' current slide, Perreault, the Penguins' hot streak, injuries and the WJC.

Remember to email in every week with feedback and suggestions. Email  anytime to!

Haynesworth Suspended for the Rest of 2010

There is never a dull moment at Redskins Park, and today was no different as the team announced that defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is suspended for the final four games of the 2010 season.

The drama surrounding Haynesworth kicked into gear when he refused to attend any mandatory camps during the offseason.  He was the only player who took his option, while the rest wanted to get started right away learning a new system they would have to play under new coaches Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan, and Jim Haslett.  Haynesworth cited the fact that he ahs been a veteran in the league and knows how best to prepare himself for the season. He claimed he was working out on his own.

Many of his own teammates said that all would be forgiven if he came in once mandatory workouts began and put in the effort.  They said if he came in ready to play, there would be no problem.  Well, then Haynesworth missed the first mandatory camp.  Everyone thought, ok, he will come in ready for training camp.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Maple Leafs @ Capitals Preview (Video) 12/6/10

A look at the game tonight between the Maple Leafs and the Capitals.  Roster juggling, mystery everywhere!

Remember to send your suggestions for tomorrow's Tuesday Puck Talk! You can email them in at or leave them in the comments or tweet me @KGDowd.  I love the feedback!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Earning Respect: the P.K. Subban Case

As you all know, I’ve played on various sports teams my entire life.  I’ve been playing basketball since 1st grade, and I’ve played at recreational, travel, AAU, and varsity levels.  I played AA ice hockey for almost 8 years.  I have played various levels of softball, soccer, and lacrosse as well.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me say that throughout this entire athletic career, I’ve always been a proponent for paying dues.  As a freshman, I was more than happy to get the water bottles, make sure all the balls were in the bag, and bring the medical kit everywhere.  Frankly, it made me feel like I was part of the team.  I felt like I was doing what all those had done before me, and that made me feel closer to the team. I felt like I belonged.

This is why I hate it when professional rookies like Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys refuse to carry pads off the field.  Its why I love it when the team then drops a $50,000 plus dinner bill on him at the rookie dinner.  These are dues you have to pay, and considering the actual paycheck you’re getting, I feel athletes can suck it up, swallow their egos, and earn respect of their teammates.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Capitals @ Stars Preview (Video) 12/2/10

A look as the Caps take on the Dallas Stars in the second half of their 2 back-to-back game road trip and Scott Hannan makes his debut with the team.

Update: Raycroft will be in net for the Stars against Michal Neuvirth (or David, as the Blues announcers called him last night).  Poti out, Hannan will be paired with John Erskine.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Capitals @ Blues Preview (Video) 12/1/10

Here's a look at tonight's matchup between the Blues and the Capitals.  Both teams with back-to-backs, with their last meeting (on the birthday of yours truly) ending in a shootout.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday Puck Talk Week #7

This week I talk about the Fleischmann trade for Scott Hannan, injuries and the implications that has on equipment, and the Sidney Crosby slew foot. Enjoy, and as always please leave comments/suggestions for next week!

Check out my post breaking down the trade for more info and analysis on Hannan and what it means for the Caps.

Capitals Send Fleischmann to Colorado for Hannan

The Washington Capitals have traded underachieving center/wing to the Colorado Avalanche for defensive defenseman Scott Hannan.  The two teams have reportedly been in talks since August, and were finally able to get a deal accomplished.  Both players are set to become unrestricted free agents after this season.

Trade rumors involving Fleischmann have been making the rounds since the trade deadline last spring.  They heated up during the offseason, when it is believed that the fall through of a trade involving Fleischmann was the reason Eric Belanger ultimately was not re-signed by the team.

The Capitals had been wearing a little thin in defensive depth, and this trade allows them to feel more comfortable with that.  Instead of having to rely on inexperience call-ups like Brian Fahey, the Caps will have an 11-year veteran to help pick up the slack.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tuesday Puck Talk Suggestions

Hey everyone! As always, please send along any questions or suggestions for Tuesday Puck Talk tomorrow.  You can leave them in the comments here or email me at  I promise to talk about it!

Cody Eakin Invited to Canada WJC Camp

Capitals prospect and Swift Current Bronco Cody Eakin has been one of 39 players invited to Canada’s selection camp for their 2011 World Junior Championship team.  The 19-year-old Winnipeg native was selected by the Capitals in the 3rd round (85th overall) in the 2009 entry draft.  The tournament will take place in Buffalo this year.

Eakin impressed at both Development Camp and training camp for the Capitals this summer, and he even played his way into the 2nd line center debate.  Though he is small at just 5’11, 179 lbs, what he lacks in size he makes up for in speed and agility.  He is a power skater, a tough forechecker, and has the work ethic and skill level to fill a role on any type of line.

In 24 games while serving as captain for the Broncos this season, Eakin as lit the lamp 12 times and added 15 assists.  Those 27 points rank second on his team and 36th in the WHL.  With much more skilled players being invited to the camp, that is probably not the role that Eakin could fill on the team.

What Eakin does bring to the table, however, is his speed, work ethic, and his hard-hitting style of play coupled with noted leadership abilities.  Should he make the team, Eakin would likely serve a third-line role, which happens to be the role he appears to be groomed for at the NHL level.

As rosters start to be released by the various countries, there are a few more Caps prospects to keep an eye on.  Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Patrick Wey, and Philipp Grubauer are all candidates for their countries’ teams.  As rosters are announced, updates will be posted here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hurricanes @ Capitals Preview (Video) 11/28/10

A quick recap of the game against the Lightening on Friday and a look towards this afternoon's game against the Hurricanes.

Here's a link to the Hockey Writers article I reference.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Three Years Later, Sean Taylor's Death Still Cuts Deep

It’s been three years since a great free safety was taken from us far too early. Sean Taylor was born April 1, 1983. He was only 24 when he was murdered in his Miami home on November 27, 2007. It wasn’t quite the shot heard around the world, but it was certainly a shot heard around DC.

Taylor played his college football at the University of Miami and was a member of the Hurricanes’ 2001 national championship team. In his junior year, Taylor was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s bet defensive back. He finished first in the nation in interceptions (10) and tackles (77). He scored three touchdowns off of interceptions that season.

Following his junior year, Taylor entered the 2004 NFL Draft and was taken fifth overall by the Washington Redskins. He then signed a seven-year, 18 million dollar contract with the team. Taylor had a successful rookie season, emerging as the Redskins’ starting free safety by the third game. However, signs of trouble off the field surfaced as he received a $25,000 fine from the league for missing part of the mandatory rookie symposium.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Capitals @ Hurricanes Preview 11/24/10 (Video)

Here is a look at tonight's matchup between these two Southeast Division teams.

First Quarter Awards

I hate predictions in sports because it is one field where you really never know what is going to happen.  A great player could have an off year or a bad player could have a career year, bounces go every which way, and surprises (both good and bad) pop up all over the place.

That is why I refrain from making pre-season predictions.  I do, however, want to take a look at who I would give the awards to should the season end today.  The quarter pole mark of the season gives a large enough time frame to judge performance so far, so these are who I would give the NHL Awards to based on the first quarter of work this season.

Calder Trophy: Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes

The seventh overall pick in the 2010 Draft took the league by storm right from the beginning.  He currently leads all rookies in scoring with 16 points, 4 ahead of those tied for second at 12.  He is third on the Hurricanes in scoring, and he has found a knack for timely goals.  He is thoroughly outplaying fellow 2010 draftees who were supposed to be more offensively potent than him; players like Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin.  People didn’t have high expectations for him in the beginning, but as the Hurricanes turn over from an old guard to a new, Skinner will be a big part of that rebuilding.  No rookie has had as big an impact on their team, and with no rookie outscoring him, he is the front-runner for the Calder so far this season.

Runner up: Michal Neuvirth, Washington Capitals

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Are You Thankful For?

Hey DC sports fans! What are you guys thankful for this season? A winning hockey team? A revived spirit in the Wizards and Redskins? Hope for the Nationals future?

Email me at and let me know what you're thankful for this sporting season.  You may include your name if you want, but you can also choose to remain anonymous.  I hope to put them together into a post for Thanksgiving.

So please, write me and let me know what you are thankful for!

Tuesday Puck Talk Week #6

This one had to be done in two parts since photobooth cut me off. I tackle the Caps loss last night (including the Ovechkin post game controversy) the Tampa Bay Lightening and Steven Stamkos, and Marc Staal and headshots.

Any comments, questions, or suggestions let me know in the comments!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Caps vs. Devils Preview 11/22/10

A look at tonight's game between the Capitals and the Devils.  It is the second meeting between the two, with the Caps taking the first in their season opener 7-2.  The game is probably most remembered for the fight between Ilya Kovalchuk and Mike Green.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Caps Miss Chances, Fall to Flyers in SO 5-4

It was an expected wild affair at Verizon Center tonight, but after a rollercoaster of penalty kills and power plays, to many missed chances, and a standout performance by rookie Marcus Johansson, the Capitals eventually fell to the Flyers in a shootout 5-4.

The game started off with chances everywhere.  Alex Ovechkin had a breakaway that beat Flyers goalie Brian Boucher, but was unable to beat the post as it rang wide.  This would tell the tale of Ovechkin’s whole night, which ended with an assist, a -1 and 3 shots on goal in 22:51 of total ice time (with an average shift length of just over a minute).  He also missed when his number came up in the shootout.

As Ovechkin’s mojo troubles continue, it was a different MoJo that stole the show tonight: Marcus Johansson.  He was all over the ice and opened the scoring 8:10 into the game with his second career goal.  On a line tonight with Jason Chimera and Matt Bradley as Bruce Boudreau continues to shuffle the lines, the trio sustained a high energy level throughout the game.  They were hard on the forcheck, and Chimera scored the power play goal that tied the game at 3 near the end of regulation.

Flyers @ Capitals Preview (Video) 11/20/10

Here's a video preview of tonight's tilt between the Capitals and the Flyers at Verizon Center.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nancy Lieberman: A Historic Game

Tonight was a huge night in sports.  No, I’m not talking about the Tampa Bay Lightening beating the Philadelphia Flyers in an 8-7 barn-burner.  I’m not talking about Monday Night Football between the Bears and the Dolphins.  It’s not because of wins by the Indiana Pacers or the Orlando Magic.  What made this night historic came from an unexpected place: the NBA Development League.

Tonight, the Texas Legend, affiliate of the Dallas Mavricks, took the court with their coach to start their season.  Her name? Nancy Lieberman.  Tonight, a woman walked onto the hardwood as the head coach of a professional basketball team for the first time ever.

Lieberman is a well-known name in women’s basketball (well, about as well-known as you can be when your field is women’s basketball).  She was a standout player in high school, and she was still in high school when she made the USA national team at age 17.  In 1975, she was named to the USA team for the Pan American games, where the team won a gold medal.  She was also on the teams for the 1979 World Championships and Pan American games, where she won gold and silver medals, respectively.

Lieberman played for the 1976 US Olympic Women’s Basketball team as well.  It was the first time women’s basketball was a competition at the Olympic Games.  In Montreal, she became the youngest Olympic basketball player ever, having just turned 18.  The US lost in the gold medal game to the USSR (one of the teams Alex Ovechkin’s mother, Tatyana, won a gold medal playing for).

While attending the Old Dominion University in Virginia, Lieberman won a total of three national championships.  She won the Wade Trophy twice as player of the year.  She also won the Young American Award from the Boy Scouts of America in 1980.

After boycotting the 1980 games in Moscow, Lieberman embarked on her journey as a professional player.  She played for the Dallas Diamonds of the Women’s Pro Basketball League, a men’s league called the United States Basketball League, and the Washington Generals as the regular opponent of the Harlem Globetrotters.

She was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.  She also played in the WNBA’s inaugural season in 1997 at 39.  Lieberman then became the General Manager and head coach of the WNBA’s Detroit Shock before working as a women’s basketball analyst for ESPN.  It was after ESPN that she was named the Legends’ head coach.

Lieberman is an important figure not just in women’s basketball, but in sports in general.  While women often rise through the ranks in the women’s section of sports (i.e. the new women’s category in the Hockey Hall of Fame) they rarely are granted the opportunity to cross over to the men’s version of their sport.  This is great breakthrough, and hopefully it will continue to expand into sports like baseball, hockey, and football as well.

Why Johansson Beats Perreault for NHL Spot

Perreault after scoring his first NHL goal
The debate between rookie Swede Marcus Johansson and his French Canadian counterpart Mathieu Perreault has been ongoing since training camp.  The battle between the two for the role as 2nd line center on the Caps was a blast to watch, and when the decision was ultimately made to start Johansson with the big club there seemed to be more outrage from the fan base than cheers.

That is understandable, as the Washington Capitals organization is a tight-knit one, and most Caps fans are also Hershey Bears fans. They have watched Perreault develop and tear up the AHL, and when they see performances like Sunday’s 6 assist effort from 85, they feel attached and utterly confused that he is not playing in the NHL. It is a natural progression; and it is also wrong.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Puck Talk Week #5

This week, I take a look at Matt Hendricks, the St. Louis Blues recent troubles and the Los Angeles Kings.  Want to hear about something? Leave it in the comments or @ me on twitter and I'll talk about it next week! Always love taking suggestions!

Check out my latest posts at The Hockey Writers about the Caps' two Matts (Bradley and Hendricks) and the success the Caps' top line had been having until a few games ago.

Redskins Give Up, Lose to Eagles 59-28

It was the beatdown no one saw coming.

NFC East games are always competitive.  The Redskins had been rising and falling to the quality of their opponent so far this season.  It was at home, and Donovan McNabb had something to prove after signing a 5-year, 78 million dollar deal.  It was supposed to at least be close.

Alas, that’s why they play the game.  The final score was 59-28 Eagles, dropping the Redskins likely out of any playoff hope with a record of 4-5.

The Eagles jumped out to a 28-0 lead after scoring touchdowns on their first three drives of the game, all in the first quarter.  By the beginning of the second quarter, it was 35-0.  The Redskins tried to make a comeback, but defensive mistakes cost them and they weren’t able to stop the bleeding as the Eagles continued to rack up touchdowns.

Monday, November 15, 2010

McNabb Gets Extended 5 years

Quarterback Donovan McNabb signed a 5 year contract extension with the Washington Redskins today, prior to a NFC East showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field.  The deal is worth 78 million, with 40 million in guaranteed money.  McNabb will be 39 when the deal expires.

This announcement comes at somewhat an odd time.  Controversy has been surrounding the Redskins for two weeks after McNabb was benched with 2 minutes left in an eventual loss to the Detroit Lions in favor of Rex Grossman.  This has been the story surrounding the Monday Night Football game tonight, until this signing of course.

Semin Named NHL's Third Star of the Week

Right wing Alexander Semin has been named the NHL’s third star of the week for the week ending November 14th.  Semin scored four goals and added four assists for eight points on the week in four games.  The Caps collected seven of a possible eight standing points last week, going 3-0-1.  This included a five-point night from Semin on Thursday night in a 6-3 win over the Tamps Bay Lightening.  He had a hat trick in the third period alone and added two assists to lead the team that night.

Semin has been playing extremely well so far this season with 13 goals (2nd in the league) and 10 assists for 23 points (4th) in 18 games played.  However, these numbers weren’t enough to get him on the All-Star ballot for fan voting that went up on recently.  Voting starts today, so if you feel Semin deserves to go to the All-Star game, you can write in his name.  Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green are all also on the ballot.  You can vote for your All-Star Game starters here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Posts

I have two posts up at The Hockey Writers to check out: one about Matt Bradley and one about the Caps SOB line.  Remember to keep checking there for my analysis!

This is a busy weekend for me because it is the annual Cortaca Jug football game! (BEAT CORTLAND!) So there may not be new material here until early next week.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday Puck Talk Week #4

New Tuesday Puck Talk is up and ready for action!  As always, leave any feedback in the comments.  If you want to hear about any specific topic for next week, let me know!  I want to hear what you think!

If you haven't already, be sure to check out my post on bandwagon fans and the video from my Hershey trip last May!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hershey Bears Bonding (the Video)

As you all know from my previous post, I went to a Hershey Bears Calder Cup playoff game last May with my brother.  This is some of the video I shot from the trip.  I put it up on youtube a while ago but just realized I never posted it here. Enjoy a look into the love-hate relationship that is me and PFC Dowd!

Myths About "Bandwagon" Fans

With the Capitals making their turnaround in the last few years and the Nationals and Wizards looking like they will take a turn for the better in the next few years, there has been a lot of talk about “bandwagon” fans.  Particularly in hockey, it seems “diehard” fans don’t like bandwagoners, saying they aren’t true fans because they didn’t know their team existed before they began winning. My answer to that accusation is always this: so what?

Everyone was new to hockey fandom and one point in their life.  Why be a fan of a sport where your hometown team constantly loses?  You are provided with a limited and below-average level of the game, so why put your money into it when you could be watching a more entertaining team?  It is the team’s duty to give the fans and community something worth watching.  If the product isn’t good, there is no reason to expect people to buy expensive tickets to come watch them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wall Dougie's His Way to NBA History

DC has had its fair share of hyped debuts over the last few years.  We have sat and held out collective breath as we wait to see whether picks such as Alex Ovechkin, Stephen Strasburg, and Brian Orakpo will pay off.  Last night, the latest Washington first overall pick, John Wall, debuted in front of the home crowd at Verizon Center in a way only he could: by doing the Dougie.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hockey Fighting: An Artform

Other than various forms of Mixed Marshal Arts, hockey is the only sport that allows (at times even encourages) fighting.  These players tend to be viewed by fans as expendable.  They must not have any other kind of hockey talent that could keep them in the NHL, so instead they just fight everything that moves.  This couldn’t be further than the truth.

Fight is part of the hockey culture, and with that comes a whole set of both written and unwritten rules.  Nothing may be on your hands (tape, foil, etc) when fighting: written rule.  If you are wearing a visor, remove your helmet before fighting: unwritten rule.  A fighter must be familiar with the ins and outs of all of these rules and still be able to win the fight.

Most enforcers are not necessarily born fighters.  Most of the time they are players who have adjusted their game to be able to keep playing at an elite level.  Experience is key, and it must be learned.  The experienced fighters on the team often spend time in practice showing some of the less experienced guys fighting tips.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday Puck Talk Week #3

Here it is! I was able to shoot it today after all. As always if you want to hear about anything specific or have any feedback, leave it in the comments!

Tuesday Puck Talk...

...will unfortunately have to wait this week.  I apologize and I will still try to get it up today, but it may have to wait until tomorrow due to a combination of technical difficulties and time constraints.  Don't worry though, I promise you will get your weekly fix! (And yes I will be addressing Daniel Briere)

In the meantime, remember to "like" KG's District on Facebook. There is a link here, or you can simply click the "like" button on the Facebook box on the right sidebar.  There will be announcements and posts made available there as well!

Also remember to check out my latest at The Hockey Writers: Neuvirth Earns Rookie of the Month Honors

Happy Tuesday and this weeks video will be up ASAP!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Puck Talk Week #2

Here is week 2 of Tuesday Puck Talk. Got any feedback or want me to talk about something specific? Let me know in the comments or email me!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My All-Overrated Team

Anything that is covered by the media will inevitably be hyped.  In sports especially, there is a tendency to judge a player based on a small sample size.  It is easy to say a player is very good after they have a good game, but it is the whole body of work that must determine a player.  Likewise, people often resort to memories of players who were once great but have since worn off (see: Brett Favre).  

In many if not most cases, these players are still good players.  They are just closer to average than the media makes them out to be.  We are tempted to believe that when a player plays out of the their mind, they are actually that good.  That is not always the case.  They are good players, but not great players.  And they are the focus of our All-Overrated team.

This is the team of players in the NHL who are the most overrated at their position.  There will also be a team who is the most overrated team in the league.  Enjoy, and feel free to comment if you disagree or have any to add!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday Puck Talk Week #1

Here is a new segment I am going to try to do weekly called Tuesday Puck Talk.  It will be a weekly update with news, notes, and my own thoughts about what's going on around the NHL. Enjoy, and please leave comments to let me know what you think.  If there is a particular issue you would like me to address in the next video, leave that in the comments as well!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I'm sorry I haven't been posting much here lately. I have been busy with travel and midterms. I'm working on a couple of posts now so look forward to them soon! Thanks for sticking with me!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Capitals Finalize Opening Night Roster

The Capitals have made their final cuts and are ready to kick off the 2010-2011 season. Check out my article about it on The Hockey Writers.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Godzilla Takes Washington

Olaf Kolzig is a staple of the Capitals franchise.  He is the only player to have worn all three of the Caps jerseys in the team’s history.  He was the main reason for their only Stanley Cup Final run in 1998.  There was even some talk of him becoming captain in the early 2000s.  He left the franchise on a sour note, but Ollie the Goalie returned to the District this weekend for the second annual Caps Convention with a smile on his face.

The Capitals drafted Kolzig in the first round (19th overall) of the 1989 Entry Draft.  He was the first South African-born player to be drafted into the NHL.  Working his way through the minors, Kolzig split four seasons between the NHL and AHL before finally earning a full-time spot on the team for the 1996-1997 season.

In 1998, he caught fire during the playoffs and led the Capitals to their first and only Eastern Conference Championship and trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.  Kolzig was elected to the All-Star game in 1998 and 2000.  He took home the Vezina Trophy as best goaltender in the regular season in 2000 as well. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Theodore Signs with the Wild

In the summer of 2008, the Capitals were in goaltending limbo.  They had two young goalies who weren’t yet ready for steady NHL work.  They had just finished a year with three goalies on the roster, a sticky situation that caused franchise netminder Olaf Kolzig to leave the team with some ill will.  The man who got them into the playoffs, Cristabol Huet, left to chase money in Chicago.

With only backup Brent Johnson left, the Capitals needed a solidified starter to hold down the team until the kids were ready to take the reins. They then went out and signed 2002 Vezina and Hart winner (with the Montreal Canadiens) Jose Theodore.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

And Then There Were Two

Entering training camp, the Caps had one center spot up for grabs. The candidates were youngsters Mathieu Perreault, Marcus Johansson, and Cody Eakin.  Eakin was a long shot from the beginning, but his play throughout camp kept him in the conversation.  That is, until he was sent back down to captain his junior team in Swift Current for the 2010-2011 season.

Eakin’s play impressed many over the last few weeks, and it didn’t go unnoticed by coaching staff.  The organization would probably love to have him in Hershey this season, but Eakin doesn’t meet the AHL’s minimum age requirement.  Looking down the road, don’t be surprised if he cracks the Caps lineup in the next two or three years, which is a pretty sweet deal for a 19 year-old.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's Not Personal, It's Business

As sports fans, we love our team.  We live with their successes and die with their failures.  We spend money, time, and effort supporting our team and the organization.  The players feel like a family, our family.  The entire franchise feels like a tight-knit group that truly cares about one another.  We love this team so much, how can they not love each other the same way?

The fact is, fans mainly live in that delusion because we love it.  Sports is, first and foremost, a business.  The organization is a business.  The league is a business.  The stadium is a business.  Every aspect of the team is created to maximize profits.  Giving more fan access to the players makes the fans more loyal.  They are then more likely to buy jerseys, shirts, etc.  Every decision that is made is made for business reasons.

As cold as that sounds, it’s the only way a business can succeed.  Most who are involved in the sports industry understand that.  No one is trying to intentionally hurt anyone else, but there is serious money at stake for all involved.  Players generally understand that, and the oddest part of this whole Eric Belanger fiasco is that he seems to be the only one who doesn’t.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Executive Take: Dick Patrick

The major executive who has been with the organization the longest and is perhaps the furthest from the spotlight is team president and partial owner Dick Patrick.  He is a member of one of hockey’s most legendary families, starting with Lester Patrick, Dick’s grandfather.  Lester Patrick helped develop many of the rules of hockey in its infancy in the early 1900s.  He also has an award named after him, the Lester Patrick Trophy, which is given for dedication to hockey in the United States.

Dick’s cousin, Craig, played for the Capitals from 1977-1979 and won two Stanley Cups as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Oh yeah, and he won an Olympic Gold Medal as Herb Brooks’ assistant with the 1980 U.S. Men’s hockey team.  His father Muzz and uncle Lynn both played for the New York Rangers team that won the Stanley Cup in 1940.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Executive Take: Ted Leonsis

People often wonder what they would do if they were extraordinarily wealthy. What would you buy? What would you do? Where would you go? Some have the dream of owning a professional sports team, but few achieve the level of wealth to make it possible. Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder proves a lifelong dream doesn’t necessarily lead to success, while Capitals owner Ted Leonsis worked through his rookie mistakes to become the majority owner of the most successful team in the city.

Ted Leonsis was born in Brooklyn, NY and attended college at Georgetown University in D.C.  His marketing company, Redgate Communications Corp., was bought by AOL in 1993 and Leonsis became a senior executive at AOL for the next 13 years.  Among the positions he held at AOL were vice chairman and president.

In 1999, Leonsis had the opportunity to cross something off his “bucket list”: owning a professional sports team.  He bought the Capitals from Abe Pollin, then owner of the Washington Wizards and the MCI Center (now Verizon Center). 

Leonsis’ reign began just after the team’s lone run to the Stanley Cup Finals, and in his first two years as owner the Capitals won back-to-back Southeast Division titles.  Aiming to improve on his team’s consistent playoff woes, he began going to free agency to bring in big name, big money players.  He signed Jaromir Jagr to a 7 year, 77 million dollar contract which at the time was the biggest in NHL history. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Executive Take: George McPhee

It wasn’t too long ago that Caps fans had little hope of playoff appearances, let alone deep runs.  There were times when a 10,000 person attendence was considered a good turnout.  The Caps have now sold out their last two seasons, and likely will again this year.  One man was primarily responsible for their turnaround, and his name is George McPhee.

McPhee didn’t always spend his days in a suit.  A prominent player at Bowling Green State University, he was awarded the Hobey Baker Award in 1982 for college’s top player.  After being a standout player throughout his entire college career, McPhee had a seven-year stay in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers.

McPhee began his front office days with the Vancouver Canucks where he held the position of vice president and director of hockey operations while assisting then general manager Pat Quinn.  The Canucks made the playoffs four times, won a division championship and made it to the ’94 Cup Finals (where they fell to the Rangers) while McPhee was with the team.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Tribute to Jeff Halpern

A couple of days ago, while Willie Mitchell was taking up all the Caps news because of his workout for the team, something slipped through the cracks.  There was another non-cap skating at Kettler that day too.  His name was Jeff Halpern.

Caps fans know him well, and he will always have a special place in the hearts of locals.  Halpern is from Potomac, M.D., a suburb of D.C. (and the current residence of yours truly).  He went to Churchill High School, where there was no hockey team at the time.  Thus, he left home and transferred to St Paul’s School in Concord, N.H.

After graduating from Princeton, Halpern began his NHL career with the Capitals in 2000.  He was never drafted, and signed as a free agent with the Caps after graduation.  He was only the second NHLer from Maryland in the history of the league, and the fact that he was a local kid who grew up admiring the Capitals instantly endeared him to fans.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A New Project

As some of you may already know, I accepted a position today to cover the Washington Capitals for The Hockey Writers.  Because of this, I am changing the makeup of this blog slightly.  All my Caps analysis posts and things of that nature will now be found posted on  I am still going to keep this blog for any Nats, Skins, or Wizards posts and for more fun, satirical posts on the Caps.  Please follow me over to the Hockey Writers during this transition!

Thank you all for your support and taking the time to read my posts.  Hopefully, there will be better things to come!

Willie Mitchell to Caps?

Something that the Capitals have been lacking in the last couple of year is a sound, veteran, physical, stay-at-home defenseman.  There were several names that came up not only at the trade deadline, but also at the start of free agency that could potentially fill this void.  One of these names, Willie Mitchell, has become a very interesting option.

The defensive defensemen has spent the last four seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, amassing 10 goals and 58 points in that time with 233 PIM.  What he is most known for, however, are his crushing hits.  He laid a hit on Jonathan Toews last season that knocked the Blackhawks Captain out of commission for six games.  The best part? It was completely clean.  Toews even admitted after the game that while it was a hard hit, he should have had his head up and it was his own fault.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Glimpse of the Future: Patrick Wey

To get us through these last couple of months until training camp, I will look at some of the lesser-known prospects in the organization who have unexpectedly impressed.  This will be called "Glimpse of the Future" and this will hopefully be the first of many I am able to do. Enjoy!

Patrick Wey let out a sigh of relief this morning when he was not among those who received the news they would be leaving Lake Placid, N.Y. and the United States National Junior Team Evaluation camp.  The Capitals’ fourth round (115th overall) pick in the 2009 Draft is safe for now.

At last month’s development camp, Wey impressed.  His skills appear to be coming along, and the more time he gets playing with older, larger players at Boston College the more he will develop.  The 6’2 200lb physical yet well-rounded defenseman began his elite hockey career with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League.  The Pittsburgh native moved to Iowa to play for the Black Hawks at the tender age of 12.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Hockey Fan's Guide to Redskins Training Camp

Let’s be honest, hockey fans are pretty much one-track minds.  We like winter.  We like cold.  We like ice.  We don’t really know what to do with ourselves between June and September.  Therefore, I direct you all to the Kings of Summer, Offseason Champs, our very own Washington Redskins.

Since we as hockey fans don’t really know all of the details of the complex alternate universe that is the Redskins organization, I have put together a quick guide to get to know the characters of Wonderland.  Welcome down the Rabbit Hole.  We have cookies.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Capitals Acquire Fighter D.J. King

King has 4 goals, 9 points, and 185 penalty mins
in 101 NHL games

At this time last year, General Manager George McPhee had to answer question after question about the overall toughness of the Caps.  With Donald Brashear leaving for the New York Rangers, the Capitals didn’t have an enforcer to “protect” their superstars.  McPhee stated that the team didn’t intend to sign a replacement for Brashear, that “team toughness” would take over.  His logic was that if other teams wanted to run around and try to intimidate them, the Caps would just kill them on the power play, which it pretty much exactly what happened.

It appears the Caps are taking a different approach this season, as they traded prospect Stefan Della Rovere to the St. Louis Blues for notorious heavyweight D.J. King.  This was shocking to most of the Caps community and the NHL community in general.  McPhee had committed to a Detroit Red Wings approach, and it is pretty well understood that at 6’2 and 235 lbs, Alex Ovechkin doesn’t need protecting.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ovechkin and Zimmerman: Faces of DC Sports

When teams struggle, in any sport, they need a change.  Sometimes it’s a coaching change, sometimes it’s a managerial change, and sometimes it is a player change.  The coaching change seems to be the most popular, especially in the middle of a season, but during the offseason teams begin to change their makeup with the entry draft.

Generally in the draft, it is rigged so that the teams with the worst record have a better chance on getting a higher pick so they can rebuild with the best players.  Washington D.C. has had the unfortunate luck of being in that position several times in the last 5 years or so, and in many different sports.  Two of these picks were made a year apart and have had a tremendous impact on sports in this city.

The first of these picks was made on June 26, 2004, when the Washington Capitals selected Alex Ovechkin with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft.  The team had dumped salary and gone into full rebuilding mode.  The team’s most powerful, offensive players were gone, and the team needed a new face to join Olaf Kolzig’s in leading the franchise.  They also needed someone to take over for Kolzig when he eventually left, and that is what they got.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Glimpse of the Future: Caleb Herbert

To get us through these last couple of months until training camp, I will look at some of the lesser-known prospects in the organization who have unexpectedly impressed.  This will be called "Glimpse of the Future" and this will hopefully be the first of many I am able to do. Enjoy!

As Capital’s Development Camp wrapped, there were quite a few players getting high accolades.  Evgeny Kuznetsov, Marcus Johansson, Dimitri Orlov, and Joe Finely were all among those most talked about after the final scrimmage had ended.  These stars shone bright, but there was one 2010 draft pick that flew relatively under the radar: Caleb Herbert.

The Minnesota native (and part of the American/high school invasion in this year’s draft) just graduated from Bloomington-Jefferson High School.  The school is one of the more prestigious teams in Minnesota’s already elite high school hockey system.  He is committed to play at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, but is expected to play one year in the United States Hockey League before he makes the transition to college.  He was also chosen for the United States U17 Select team.

He was not as flashy as the players previously listed, but he was extremely solid at camp. He was one of the better skaters, and his soft hands lead to a release that is like a lightening strike.  It is that quick scoring ability that the Caps were known and feared for last season.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Recurring Nightmares of Labor Issues: the NFL's Turn

In 2005, every hockey fan’s (and perhaps every sports fan’s) biggest nightmare came true: the season was cancelled.  We were officially going to be without hockey for more than a year.  Billions of dollars, and fans, were lost.  The NHL still hasn’t recovered, and now must begin negotiations on the next CBA with both sides willing to come to the table with open minds.  It was detrimental to the hockey world and the growth of the sport in the United States.  Evidently, the other leagues weren’t paying attention.

Five years after lawyer Bob Batterman represented the NHL in it’s failing CBA talks, he finds himself in a similar situation with another client: the National Football League.  The owners opted out of the final year of their Collective Bargaining Agreement, meaning that it will now expire in March 2011 after the conclusion of the 2010 football season, which will almost certainly be an uncapped year.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kovalchuk's Rejection

The absurdity of contracts has become something sports fans have been forced to deal with, not unlike herpes or athlete’s foot.  They are commonplace in the NBA and NFL, but in the NHL where we are generally shielded from egos, we are also generally shielded from complete craziness in terms of money.  They have less money to spend. Alex Ovechkin, the highest paid player in the league, makes 9 million a year and is arguably the best player in the world.  On the flip side, well-known hissy fit-er and megalomaniac Albert Haynesworth of the Washington Redskins was given 42 million dollars last season.  So in general, we really never had to worry about NHL contracts. Until now.

In the last couple of years, organizations have figured out how to circumvent the salary cap by exploiting a loophole in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Because the cap hit of a contract is the average amount of money that player is paid per year in his contract, teams began adding years to contracts at an extremely discounted price.  These years would come towards the end of the player’s career, and there would be an unspoken understanding that said player would retire during those years and the team would no longer have the cap hit.

Players like Roberto Luongo, Marian Hossa, and Chris Pronger signed these kinds of contracts, essentially agreeing to remain with their respective clubs for the remainder of their careers.  The NHL frowned on the cap manipulation, but since teams were only adding on a couple of these silly years, they let it go. And it got shoved down their throat yesterday when Ilya Kovalchuk, the 27 year-old grand prize of free agency this season, signed a 17 year, 102 million dollar deal with the New Jersey Devils.  He was set to earn $550,000 the final five years of the contract, and he would be 44 by the time it expired.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Went Camping...And Loved It

I feel the need to strengthen my firewall and put up the most indestructible online defenses I possibly can, for I fear the wrath of fellow life long, intense Caps fans. What I’m about to reveal is so blasphemous, so inexcusable, so shameful that some would probably believe it warrants permanent exile from the Washington Capitals community: I had never been to Kettler Capitals Iceplex (or Ballston Mall, for that matter) until last Tuesday.

Now before you all burn me at the stake because I can swim, remember I paid my fan dues during the lean years and even received my very own Joe Juneau blue away jersey as a Christmas present. I have a hockey stick with the signatures of the entire 1998 team. We used to have a ticket package of about 15 home games a year until 2003.  I wore 12 in every sport and on every team I played for Peter Bondra.  Have I won back your love and my credibility? Good.

What brought me to Kettler three times this week was the combination of live hockey deprivation, a fascination with 2009 first round draft pick Marcus Johansson, and a temporary glimpse into the future.  That’s right fans, it was Development Camp time.  I was familiar with a large portion of this year’s crop of campers, so I figured it was finally time to get in on the action and see what all the fuss was about.  And boy did I get it shoved in my face from Day 1.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Kontinental Free Agency

There used to be no free agency. Imagine a world where players aren’t in any position to demand 10 million dollars a year, where hour-long ESPN specials are dedicated to actual impactful events.  Then we were blessed with the beautiful rectum that is the free agency season.  This seems to be more painless in the NHL, where they have fewer egos to satisfy and more players who just want to play the game. 

It was a simple concept, really; after a player’s contract expires with his team, other teams are allowed to sign said player to a contract of their own.  A new wrinkle was added when the salary cap was instituted, but the market adjusted.  Now the market must make another adjustment, this time for Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

The revamped version of the Russia Superleague, the KHL has really grown in strength and power over the last few years.  It’s presence is felt by the NHL more and more each year, and especially around free agency time.  It is often the rumored destination of many a free agent who is looking for more money or looking to extend their career.  This meant that usually these players weren’t wanted by the NHL.  Last year that changed.

Fresh off a Stanley Cup Final appearance and a Western Conference Championship, Jiri Hudler of the Detroit Red Wings turned down an offer from Ken Holland in favor of a deal in the KHL with the now defunct Dynamo Moscow team (yes, the same team that developed and nurtured our own little Alex Ovechkin).  Both Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov of the Washington Capitals excepted deals in Russia last summer also.  They were aging and there was no longer a market for them at the price they wanted, similar to the situation that brought Jaromir Jagr to Avangard Omsk (KHL).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Everyone Relax: GMGM Knows What He's Doing

Like the commercial says, hockey fans aren’t like other fans. We are a tight-knit band of fiercely devoted people, and we know no other way. We weep with every loss and rejoice with every victory. We know the true meaning of tough.

We also, however, inevitably feel we can be a better genera manager than the man who controls out team. From a distance, I watched the Caps fan community disintegrate into madness as they watched George McPhee stand by while the top defensemen were signed away.

The name of the game the NHL free agency season seems to be “overpaid.” This year’s free agent class is less deep than those in the past, and that caused teams to jump at the chance to sign the few valuable players available to high-priced, longer term deals than those players would otherwise be worth. The Ottawa Senators signed Sergei Gonchar to a 3-year deal at 5.5 mil per year, for a player who is 36 and more than past his prime. Anton Volchenkov signed a 6-year deal worth 25.5 million with the Devils. Even players like Adam Burish and Jody Shelley were given million-dollar-a-year contracts.

This trend continued with capable centers, as fans watched players like Mathew Lombardi slipped out of reach. Many fans were angry about this, and not without reason: a team that was far and away the best during the regular season was rudely escorted out of the playoffs by the team with the least amount of points to make the cut.

For the newer fans, this seems to be more frustrating. They have only seen the team succeed in the last three years, and didn’t need to acquire the patience the longer fans have had to deal with for about a decade now. The problem with spontaneously signing this year’s bigger free agents is that a grand total of zero of them were for the right price.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Comeback of Epic Proportions

The last 18 innings Stephen Strasburg has pitched for the Washington Nationals, the team has scored a grand total of zero runs. His last three starts, this had translated into losses for the star rookie. However, a team determination and never-give-up attitude changed that yesterday when the Nats came back from being down 5-3 after the 8th inning and won the game 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th. It was Strasburg’s first no-decision of his major league career, and one he couldn’t be happier about.

The Nationals have not been very good lately. Their games have been riddled with errors and a dreadful offensive drought. The team seemed to have given up after a series of heartbreaking losses. That’s why they needed this game. It was important for Strasburg’s and the team’s confidence.

Strasburg, who had been pitching excellence but receiving no support from the rest of the team, needed to know that he could have an off day and the team would have his back. He needed to know he didn’t have to pitch a shutout for the team to win. He got that reassurance yesterday when Pudge Rodriguez hit his walk-off single.

The team needed to know they could come back. They needed to believe they could get themselves out of a hole and continue to play in the late innings. In the future, the team will look at this game and say “See, we’ve done it before, now let’s go out and do it again.”

This timing of this game is significant too. Around this time last year, Jim Riggleman replaced Manny Acta as manager. After the All-Star break, which is next weekend, the team went on a tear. With the way things have been going for the Nationals lately, their due for some good fortune. Hopefully, the 4th of July magic can give them the spark they need.