Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning prediction

The second round of the NHL Eastern Conference playoffs pits the Washington Capitals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The two Southeast division teams met in the playoffs in 2003 and I watched the young Bolts come back from a 2-0 defecit to take the series. Games 3 and 4 that year are the only NHL playoff games I have ever seen in person. As I mentioned earlier, that series and lack of attendance got Ted Leonsis to start rebuilding the team. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup the following season.

Much has changed — the Caps rebuilt completely with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Alexander Semin. Tampa Bay has rebuilt, but also retain Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavilier whom I learned to dislike a lot in 2003. Tampa Bay just won a seven games series over the depleted Pittsburgh Penguins, the first likable thing they have ever done. They have 41-year old Dwayne Roloson in net and he shut out the Caps twice since heading from the New York Islander to the Lightning. They will doubtlessly be tired, but they have momentum and I would not be shocked if they won game 1 tonight in D.C.

I expect a tough series, the Lightning are not the heavy underdogs they make themselves out to be. I think ultimately though, that the Capitals overall better talent and rest is enough to win, but I think it takes six games.

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Nats vs. Giants Q&A with my friend David

Once again, I’m talking to a fan from the Washington Nationals upcoming opposition. This time, my friend David (he was a guest prognosticator during football season) is answering questions about the reigning world champion San Francisco Giants, whom he adopted after moving to the city by the bay.

WFY: While I know you followed a different team growing up and may not have really been into baseball when that team won it all, how much did you enjoy the Giants World Series victory last year?

DS: Last year was fantastic and very fun to be a part of. I had followed the Giants for several years, but hadn’t properly considered myself anything more than a casual fan that cheered for the home team until the start of 2009. My friendships with a few die-hard fans helped my general interest grow into a true emotional commitment to a team. Then the team wins it all the next year. I felt a bit of guilt about that given that fans here had waited their whole lives for that moment. But I’m secure in my true fan status.

WFY: You arrived in San Francisco in the middle of the last decade when back when the Giants still played in SBC Park, I think and Barry Bonds was the headliner. Has the fanbase changed much in that time?

DS: The first few games I went to at SBC/ATT in 2003-2005 had a strong 1995 Camden Yards flavor to it. It was where consultants and attorneys took their clients. The sushi and garlic fries and the microbrews and sourdough breadbowls seemed to cut against the authentic baseball experience. But I later came to appreciate that it is totally authentic and just speaks to the uniqueness of San Francisco. Diehard, working class fans in San Francisco like sushi and microbrews.

Obviously though with the World Series pennant waving the fanbase seems to have swelled. But it doesn’t seem to me to be growing all to much because the Giants are fashionable. A meaningful chunk is older fans that had grown discouraged after years and years have come back to the team and brought their kids. That team last year also was fun and funny. It was the kind of group that could bring back those turned off by the steroid Aughts.

WFY: Speaking of Bonds, what has the reaction been to his trial?

DS: I think people are generally indifferent. The most common comment I heard or read was that people think that the investigation and the trial were a waste of time and money. Bonds is an enigma out here. People loved him for his amazing performances and the excitement that he brought to the ballpark experience. At the same time he never did things to ingratiate himself to the fans or his teammates. I’d guess more people think he is an expletive deleted than think he is a decent guy. When the Giants parted ways with him, the fans weren’t second guessing the choice and no team wanted him.

WFY: If I am not mistaken, you have gone back and forth with baseball over the years due to the strikes, absurd payrolls, etc. What brought you back into the game?

DS: The radio. When I moved to California to attend graduate school, I regularly found myself in the new experience of listening in the afternoon to baseball on the radio. Hearing Jon Miller call a baseball game at 2 or 4:30 in afternoon, I kind of tapped into a nostalgia for a time that I never experienced. I had also dearly loved listening to Miller call the Orioles when I was a kid and getting to hear him again everyday was a great comfort and joy. Also, they play real baseball in San Francisco. National League baseball requires the fan to know more about the team. The use of the bullpen does not just operate in isolation because of the DH. That decision-making process and element of strategy made the game so much more compelling than the more Cro-Magnon approach of the American League. Let’s not the forget the classic and sharp uniforms the Giants wear. If they dressed like the Diamondbacks, then my thirst for baseball nostalgia would have remained unquenched.

WFY: Is the oft-changing phone company-named ballpark the Giants play in really as good as they say it is? Bonus question, having been to Candlestick Park (for a 49ers game), the promise of which lured the Giants out of New York, what is the venue like?

DS: It is the best ballpark I’ve been to. (I prefer it over Wrigley, which is a cathedral.) I adore San Francisco and it tastefully uses the landscape. Rather than just opening out on the most notable icons, you look out on the Bay. Off to left field is the Bay Bridge, which is lit at night. The field has interesting dimensions, but not in a forced or excessive way. Often during night games around the 8th inning a fog will roll in and the sea gulls start circling, which always adds to the setting for a tight game. When the Giants win they play Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” as people file out, which I find endlessly charming.

You get no frills at Candlestick. I’ve narrowly avoided alterations in the parking lots there…with Niner fans! What usually sticks out in my mind is the depth of the sections, which means lots of stairs. The simplicity of the place would remind you of Veterans Stadium or RFK, but with smaller and fewer concourses. People call it a dump, but for those people it probably wasn’t the setting for some of the happiest afternoons and nights of their lives. I’ve always sat on the Niners sideline. I suspect the experience is less pleasant on the other side of the field in the collapsible sections.

WFY: Speaking of New York, the Giants sent a delegation to Manhattan over the winter. Since San Franciscans are sometimes suggested as being a bit provincial (I’m not finding fault mind you, its SAN FRANCISCO after all, I still daydream about it and I visited in December!) was their any backlash to the team embracing their Gotham heritage?

DS: I hadn’t even heard about it. I did see in the Chronicle a piece about a bar near Union Square where displaced San Franciscans watch the games—that was cool. When I’ve talked about the topic with friends that are life-long fans, they do take some affront to the media’s references to the New York championships. I agree with them. I think it is probably just laziness on the part of Eastern media outlets. Over and over again, pieces would say the Giants first championship since 1954 and list out the number of times the Giants organization has one the World Series. The Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958 and had never won from day 1. I think the San Francisco Giants fans deserved enough respect for people to say that their team had never won the World Series and they had patiently cheered on their team from the beginning. Those other championships were someone else’s team. What difference does it make to a San Francisco Giants fan what John McGraw did? What matters to Giants fans was the pain of losing a Series to Bobby Richardson or losing to the Cardinals in the 80s to end a great run or getting roughed up by the A’s in ’89. Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe Ravens fans sit around and talk about the good old days when they had Otto Graham and Jim Brown.

If one insists on doing that though, then one would think that a writer would have made the point that the Senators defeated the NY Giants in the 1924 World Series. Although the first Senators went to Minnesota, the Rangers do share in the Senators history. But that is not as obvious as anything that is related to New York. I think some Giants fans were annoyed that Ranger fans got labeled with the sympathetic mantle of “long suffering” and they did not.

In any event, Willie Mays is a big part of the team’s face and message and he’s at every major event. He is beloved by Giants fans and by the City. But, at the end of the day, Willie Mays will always be a New York icon and I think that is a big driver of the ties with New York.

WFY: As a displaced Washingtonian, do you pay attention to the Nats at all? Also, have you attended one of their games here?

DS: No. I’m too busy. My universe is pretty much limited to the National League West. I rely on the radio play-by-play guys to tell me what I need to know about the opponents. I haven’t seen a game in DC, but I plan to.

WFY: Where do you get most of your Giants news from? Is there one beat writer that stands out?

DS: KNBR is the team’s radio station. Three times a week members of the play-by-play team do interviews on a morning drive show. That’s the best information about the team. The Chronicle‘s writers do an adequate job, but there is no one that I look for. Usually the Chronicle‘s next day coverage is about 5% or 10% better than the AP summary that gets published about four or 5 minutes after the game ends. That’s kind of sad statement. If you’re freakishly into statistics, then you should read Bay City Ball. It is a local blog that ESPN started linking to not to long ago.

WFY: Who takes this series and the season series between the Nats and Giants?

DS: The Giants have been playing poorly as of late. Lincecum and Cain recently had bad starts. I’ll predict that they will both come back ferociously and win. The Nats will get to face either Bumgarner, who has been struggling, or a new addition that’s filling in for Zito. I’ll give you that one. In a best of four, I’ll give you one game for home field advantage. They split the series.

Over the season, the Giants win.

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Nats even season series with the Mets in 4-3 win

The Washington Nationals returned to their winning ways and fourth place last night in a 4-3 victory over the New York Mets. They avoided being swept in large part to two players

P ¡LIVAN! pitched 8 innings, giving up 3 runs (only 2 earned) the day after stories about ties to Puerto Rican money laundering operation blew up. He raises his record to 3-2. He also bunted in a run, shielding the ball from the Mets catcher (VIDEO from nationals.com). Mets manager Terry Collins should have protested it, but didn’t. He also singled. Oh and MLB, when somebody throws a 53 MPH pitch, please put the video up.

SS Ian Desmond returned from paternity leave in a big way, hitting a triple and a home run. No errors in the field either. He raised his batting average to .220. Hopefully, now that his son has been born, he will be able to improve upon his dreadful first month of the season.

Get well wishes to nationals.com beat writer Bill Ladson, hospitalized in Queens according to Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler. In his place, the Natmosphere’s own Kristen Hudak.

Other gamers:

Nationals vs. Mets: Ian Desmond leads Washington in his first game since birth of his childThe Post
New dad Desmond helps deliver Nationals winThe Wash. Times

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Washington Capitals to face Tampa Bay Lightning in round 2

The Washington Capitals finally know who their second round opponent will be — the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Caps overtook the Bolts in the latter months of the season to win the Southeast division. Tampa Bay finished off the Pittsburgh Penguins last night to advance.

Here is how the series looks:

Friday, April 29 – 7 p.m. – WASHINGTON (VERSUS)
Sunday, May 1 – 7 p.m. – WASHINGTON (VERSUS)
Tuesday, May 3 – TBD – TAMPA BAY (VERSUS)
Wednesday, May 4 – 7 p.m. – TAMPA BAY (TBD) Wait, back to back? Is Yanni playing the St. Pete Times Forum? Wrestling? Did the schedule makers think the Caps were playing Pittsburgh and built in a back to back out of habit? It turns out it is the University of South Florida graduation (The Wash. Times)on the 5th forcing the back-to-back.
Saturday, May 7 – 12:30 p.m. – WASHINGTON (NBC, Channel 4 in DC)*
Monday, May 9 – TBD – TAMPA BAY (VERSUS)*
Wednesday, May 11 – TBD – WASHINGTON (VERSUS)*

*If necessary

The only NHL playoff games I ever attended were against the Lightning in 2003. The Caps, in their lone playoff appearance with Jaomir Jagr, went up 2-0 in Tampa and then lost the next four games. I was there for games 3 and 4 and learned to hate Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavilier after that series. That was the beginning of the tear-down. The home games did not sell out and Ted Leonsis realized that the collection of veterans would never win him a Stanley Cup, so he blew it up the next year. Now, 8 years later, redemption is at hand if Alex Ovechkin and company can go out and take it.

I’ll come up with a series prediction tomorrow.

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¡¿Navil?! and the Nats are in last after losses to Pirates and Mets

This does not sound good:

Nats’ Hernandez looked at for possible money launderingThe Wash. Times
Nationals’ Livan Hernandez under investigation in money laundering caseThe Post
Nats’ Hernandez named in federal investigationCSN Washington

Perhaps ¡LIVAN! (or is he ¡Navil! now?) is a Henri Devereaux in this affair, but either way, this is not news on wants to hear about one of the most-beloved figures in Washington Nationals history. Hernandez has not been charged at this time and may not be, we don’t know. What we do know that the prospect of him joining the rest of his 2005 Nats teammates in 2015 for an anniversary celebration (before going out and giving up 2 runs over 7 innings and 168 pitches in a 6-2 Nats win powered by homers from Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth) is now in doubt.

So, I haven’t been blogging much about the Nats lately. The dreadful weekend series in Pittsburgh – rain, delays, postponments, odd rescheduling (moving a Friday night game to Monday night while the Penguins were playing in the playoffs?), 8 errors and a series loss to the Pirates did not prompt the radio silence, I was just busy. The last two losses to the Mets, including last night’s blown save by Sean “putting the burn in”Burnett make me re-think it though. Nothing like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, up 3-2 in the ninth, the Nats lost to the surging New York Mets 6-3. The loss, third straight, 4 of 5, puts the Nats at 10-13 and into last place. The smoke and mirrors that had got them to 10-9 have stopped working, the Nats are who we thought they were.

Lastly, I’m reserving judgment on the new “submarine horn” instead of fireworks for home runs at Nationals Park (DC Sports Bog, The Post). Let’s face it, the fireworks they shot off were basically glorified bottle rockets — the only thing I’ll miss about them is Charlie Slowes “Bang, zoom go the fireworks!” call at the end of Nats home wins. I understand everyone’s frustration at Andy Feffer the chief operating officer, and his MBA speak. Fans may not have liked former president Stan Kasten, but there was at least the fact that when it came to BS-ing, we were watching a master at work.

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How I’d redesign the Washington Wizards uniforms, logo

UPDATE 05.11.2011: New Wizards logo and uniform review and other reactions

UPDATE: The official new Wizards uniforms are here, along with a question — which design is better, theirs or mine?

Last week it was announced that the Washington Wizards would unveil their new uniforms and logo on May 10 (DC Sports Bog, The Post). Ever since Ted Leonsis bought the team, it was apparent that the Wizards were going back to their traditional red, white and blue color scheme like the Washington Capitals did. Their sister team, the Mystics of the WNBA, already went to a new scheme and well, all I can say is at least they are red, white and blue.

I have had a design in mind and I finally got out Photoshop and mocked something up. Now, let me remind everybody that these are just something that I put together on my own with no knowledge of what the future Wizards uniforms are going to look like. Please do not confuse these with something that NBA properties or the Wizards franchise created. ANY SIMILARITY TO WHAT THE ACTUAL NEW WASHINGTON NBA UNIFORMS LOOK LIKE WOULD JUST BE A SPECTACULAR COINCIDENCE

Here my logo concept:

I was specifically inspired by the old Washington Bullets script with the two hands reaching up for a basketball. The Wizards have had a secondary logo with “dc” in it since they rebranded in 1997, but I wanted to make “dc” the primary logo because I think it has a lot of cachet. The overriding theme I’m going for is playing up Washington, D.C. as the team’s identity and downplaying the nickname “Wizards” that few people love or even like. I think it might look better with font from the original Capital/Washington Bullets logo, but I couldn’t find a decent version to work with in Photoshop. I had this design in mind before the Washington Nationals primary image was pretty much the same idea — for the most part, I think sticking with the “dc” sans circle would be sufficient.

Now, for the uniforms:


They URL is a poorman’s watermark, but if they want to keep it, I won’t stop them

Putting the District of Columbia flag into the uniforms which is reminiscent of the stars and stripes uniforms that the Bullets wore when won the NBA championship in 1978, but I figured I would go even farther since the DC flag is so good. Like I said, promote them as the team that plays in Washington, D.C. not as the Wizards. Also, owner Ted Leonsis hasn’t been shy in saying he likes red.

The block WIZARDS/WASHINGTON might look better as white with a blue outline, but I did not have time to try it. I went with a block font because custom fonts are getting out of hand these days and with the flag on there I figured anything fancy would be too much. The backs should be solid, but I don’t have a strong opinion on that part of the jersey.

So there you go, an unsolicited Wizards uniform design. Chris Creamer’s sportslogos.net was helpful in creating this design. Any resemblance to what they actually pick would be a happy coincidence.

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Guy Gadowsky hired as Penn State varsity hockey coach

Men’s hockey program nabs Gadowski, former Princeton coach, to lead new teamThe Collegian
Gadowsky Named Penn State Men’s Ice Hockey CoachIntercollegiate Athletics
The first coach of the 21st century Nittany Lions hockey program is Guy Gadowsky. The former Princeton Tigers coach comes to Penn State with two NCAA hockey tournament appearances on his C.V. He is

Here is the transcript of the press conference, the video is below:

Here was Gadosky’s Princeton profile and what Princeton Athletic Communications had to say about his departure.

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For years, the FBI pursued the wrong suspect on Talisman Drive

For Vienna man, case of notorious spy Hanssen hit too close to homeThe Fairfax Times
Brian Kelley, who lived on Talisman Drive outside of Vienna, Va., was originally thought to be the spy that was actually Robert Hanssen. The FBI was 99.9% sure that Kellly was “Ramon Garcia” and for 4 years 2 years suspended from the CIA, he lived with the knowledge that he was a target of the investigation. Hanssen’s arrest vindicated Kelly, who suggests the FBI did not learn much from the experience.

Okay, I need to read about book about Hanssen now, which one is the best?

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Can the Muppets be rebooted?

Dr. Teeth, sans Mayhem, with Kermit, Jim Henson, and Rolf
It’s Time for Your Face-Lift, Miss PiggyThe Times
A new Muppets movie is due this Christmas, but can Disney make the Muppets great again?

I am a big Muppets fan — the show and The Muppet Movie were fantastic, but efforts since then have seen diminishing returns both creatively and financially. The obvious reason is that several of the creators, including Jim Henson, but also Jerry Juhl died and I think Frank Oz spends about half an afternoon annually with the Muppets. There have also been several changes of ownership, with Disney now owning it — Henson tried to sell the Muppets to Disney 20 years ago. If the original spirit can’t be found, they ought to just end the franchise. If they get it right, how about getting The Muppet Show into production again?

H/T @kevin_reiss, I think

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Washington Capitals advance to second round by beating NY Rangers 3-1

For a change, the Washington Capitals closed out a series they were in control of, dominating the New York Rangers in game 5 before a loud Verizon Center crowd.

The Caps move on to the second round with an opponent to be determined. They have a lot of work ahead of them to get to the goal — the Stanley Cup. They need to win a game 12 more times before summer to get there.

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