February 12, 2016

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

Washington Capitals Game 53 Recap: Ovechkin’s hat trick leads Caps over Wild on road

OVECHKIN RECORDS 14TH CAREER HAT TRICK, CAPS COLLECT 20TH ROAD WIN

How did that get through? (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

How did that get through? (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Alex Ovechkin recorded his 14th career hat trick — in the second period — and the Washington Capitals registered yet another road win, topping the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

After a scoreless first period, Ovechkin took over, scoring three goals in the frame to give the Caps a 3-1 lead entering the third. It was his first hattie since Dec. 13, 2013.

Ryan Suter’s goal midway through the period made things interesting, but Jason Chimera’s insurance empty net goal with less than a minute remaining sealed the deal. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 52 Recap: Caps survive lazy affair, dump Preds on the road

BURAKOVSKY EXTENDS POINTS STREAK TO EIGHT GAMES, KUZNETSOV EARNS 100TH POINT

The Washington Capitals have been playing slow first periods of late. The trend continued Tuesday night in Nashville against the Predators, but instead of the Caps finding that second gear, the pace remained sluggish throughout the affair.

Regardless, the Caps found enough offense in spurts, and Braden Holtby was his usual rock for the team, and the Caps came away with a 5-3 win over the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

The Caps got on the board first, in the first period. Tom Wilson picked off an errant pass near the Predators blue line, carried back into the zone along the right wing, and found Jason Chimera crashing the net. The pass was threaded through the slot to Chimera’s tape, and the speedy, veteran winger tipped it past Pekka Rinne for the 1-0 lead and his 14th goal of the season. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 49 Recap: Ovi’s late goal beats Islanders

OVECHKIN RETURNS FROM SUSPENSION TO NET GAME-WINNER

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Alex Ovechkin returned from his post-All Star Game mandated “vacation” and scored with 2:40 left to lift the Washington Capitals over the New York Islanders 3-2 at Verizon Center on Thursday night.

T.J. Oshie won a deep puck and moved it to Nick Backstom, along the half-boards. Ovechkin floated to the slot and Backstrom teed it up for him. Ovechkin’s blast eluded Jaroslav Halak, who was perturbed by Oshie skating through the top of the crease as Ovechkin’s shot sailed by.

The Caps (36-9-4) ended a two-week, two-game losing streak.

The Islanders struck first — less than two minutes in — with former Capital Mikhail Grabovski jamming home a rebound off a shot from the point by Travis Hamonic.

Oshie tied it up midway through the first. Backstrom tracked down a errant Islanders pass to the point that went all the way back into their defensive zone, then waited for Oshie to catch up, cruising down the slot. The snap shot was Oshie’s 16th of the season.

Andre Burakovsky gave the Caps a 2-1 lead in the second period. Dmitry Orlov shut down an Islanders advance and sent Jason Chimera away with numbers. Chimera got the puck to the goal mouth and after the puck squirted through Halak, Burakovsky stuffed it home for his ninth of the year.

The Islanders’ Josh Bailey equalized at 5:38 of the third, as Marek Zidlicky’s nifty pass set up Bailey, who got loose behind the Caps defense at the top of the crease.

All that did was set up Ovechkin to nail the game-winner.

NEXT GAME: The Caps travel to New Jersey to face the Devils on Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern matinee.

On the retirement of District Sports Page

“When it’s time, it’s time. And it’s time…” Jim Leyland, on his retirement in 2013.

After much deliberation, it is with mixed emotions that I have decided to retire District Sports Page, effective at the end of the NHL and NBA seasons. We will continue to cover the Capitals and Wizards until their respective seasons conclude, whenever that may be, and update Redskins news through the NFL Draft, then we’ll sign off. We will not pick up Nationals or DC United this spring.

Here’s hoping the last thing this website does is write about a Stanley Cup finals or NBA Championship series.

Also, I’m happy to announce that I will be joining the staff of SBNation’s Federal Baseball to cover the Nationals this season, and thanks to editor Patrick Reddington for the opportunity.

I hope to find an outlet to continue to cover the Capitals next season.

This was a very difficult decision, one I did not take lightly. Even now, I’m having a hard time believing that I’m typing the words. This website and its predecessors have afforded me some incredible experiences and memories, and to be surrendering it willingly was at one point unthinkable. But the time and effort to run it is considerable, and it’s now time to put that time to other uses.

I am very proud of the track record DSP has in the market, and especially proud of the fact that of the 40 writers that have contributed to District Sports Page over 4 ½ years, 15 have gone on to paying gigs in the sports media industry, myself included, either at newspapers, websites, television or cable stations or with the teams themselves. I have no doubt that several on the current staff will do the same.

To the current staff, and all the former staff: Thank you. Thank you for all the hard work and dedication you put toward this website, for nothing in return other than the experience of covering the local teams, with credentials, and a place to publish your efforts.

To the teams: Thank you. Thank you for the access and support you provided this website for 4 ½ years, and to its predecessors, Nats News Network and Caps News Network, for the four years prior to that.

In today’s modern media, it’s commonplace to have independents in the press box and locker rooms shoulder-to-shoulder with traditional media; that was not the case eight years ago and the Caps (especially Mr. Leonsis and Nate Ewell) understood that. In large part they are responsible for the access that electronic media has not just in this market, but across the country.

Thanks also to Stan Kasten, John Dever and Mike Gazda — all formerly of the Nats — for creating and cultivating the first pool of credentialed bloggers in MLB history, and for allowing me to participate in the process.

Thanks to the current staffs of the Caps, Nats, Wizards, Mystics, United and University of Maryland for continuing to provide access to independent media.

And thank you to my editor, Cheryl, for allowing me the freedom and providing encouragement to pursue this endeavor. It takes a lot of time and energy to start a second career and even more to run a website like this, and her unending support and contributions were critical to its success.

——————–

Lastly, and most importantly, thanks to all of you for reading the work on this website. With so much of traditional media now in partnerships with the teams they cover, it’s more important than ever that there are independent media covering the teams and sports we love so much.

There’s great writing and analysis being done independently on the national and local levels, you just gotta look for it. If you’re reading this, you probably know already. But so many sports fans only get their “news” force-fed to them by a newspaper that has corporate cross-sponsorship with the teams they cover, or from the broadcasting partner — whose announcers the team hires and pays, or from the leagues themselves who control or obfuscate the message, or even worse, from a marketing department disguised as a worldwide sports network.

Please seek out these independent voices. Read them. Educate yourself about the teams and sports you follow. Be an informed consumer. Don’t be blindly led by entities trying to control the message or sell you something. Knowledge is power.

Until next time,

Cheers, and thanks again for reading.

Dave Nichols
Editor-in-Chief
District Sports Page

Washington Wizards Game 44 Review: Wiz drop another close one at home

JOHN WALL NAMED ALL-STAR AS WIZARDS LOSE THIRD IN A ROW AND FIFTH OF SIX

Danilo Gallinari scored 26 points, including four 3-pointers, and the Denver Nuggets held off the Washington Wizards 117-113 on Thursday night at Verizon Center.

The Nuggets made 50 percent (9 of 18) from beyond the arc, handing the Wizards yet another close loss at home. Emmanuel Mudiay scored 20 points, Nikola Jokic had 15 points with 10 rebounds, and Will Barton added 15.

The Wizards (20-24) were led by Garrett Temple with 20 points. John Wall had 17 points with nine assists and seven rebounds, Bradley Beal had 17 points, and Nene added 15 points and seven boards. Marcin Gortat finished with had 12 points and 10 rebounds, his 22nd double-double of the season.

Denver started with a 10-2 run right off the opening tip and the Wizards were forced to play catch-up all night long.

The Wizards erased a 12-point deficit to start the fourth quarter, but just couldn’t finish.

Down 91-79 to start the fourth quarter, Washington used an 8-2 run to close to within six at 93-87 with 10:45 left on Jared Dudley’s running layup. A six-point spurt, capped by Dudley’s jumper with 7:34 to go cut it to two, 97-95, and Ramon Sessions’ 3-point play with 5:41 left tied it at 99.

But Gallinari responded on the next possession with a 3-pointer, and a few moments later got loose for another one.

A 3 by Temple, and 1 of 2 at the line from Wall, made it a two-point game again with 1:53. But Gallinari hit a fadeaway and Mudiay hit a pair from the line to make it 111-105.

Beal’s free throws with 12.5 seconds to go cut it to four at 113-109, but Gallinari and Barton both made a pair from the line and the Wizards ran out of time.

Coach Randy Wittman asked and answered his own questions at the press conference afterward.

“What was it 10-2 a minute and a half in? Coming out of the locker room we lost it. We dig ourselves a hole before we come out and playing the way we’re capable of defensively. We are down 18 and come all the way back, or down 11 and come all the way back and we are waiting until the point of being embarrassed before we start playing hard from a defensive standpoint. We aren’t going to outscore anybody and until we take playing defense as first priority, were going to continue having nights like this.”

Beal lamented the wasted comeback.

“It’s always tough, we spend a great amount of energy coming back but it’s unfortunate because you just run out of gas and you spend all your time, energy, and focus on getting back from being down by 18 but we shouldn’t have been in that position from the get-go.”

NEXT GAME: Saturday at Houston at 8 p.m. Eastern

Washington Capitals Game 47 Recap: Rusty Caps downed by Flyers in overtime

OVECHKIN TO MISS NHL ALL-STAR GAME WITH LOWER-BODY INJURY

Hello Neuvy. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Hello Neuvy. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Jakob Voracek’s second goal of the game came in overtime, lifting the Philadelphia Flyers over the Washington Capitals 4-3, in the Caps first game in what feels like weeks.

After the game, the team announced that Alex Ovechkin, elected as captain of the Metropolitan Division in the upcoming All-Star Game, will miss the event due to a lower-body injury. Buy rule, he’s required now to sit out the Caps’ first game after the break,  Feb. 2 against Florida.

The Caps (35-8-4, 74 points), befitting of all their time off lately due to snow cancellations, were rusty for a lot of the game. And it showed, big time. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 46 Recap: Caps shrug off slow start, pound Blue Jackets

KUZNTESOV WITH 4 ASSISTS, ALZNER TIES TEAM GAMES STREAK

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

If there are any concerns about how the Washington Capitals go about their business, it might be how they seem to have developed a knack for starting games slowly. It happened again Tuesday in Columbus, where the Caps were thoroughly outplayed through the first eight or so minutes of the game.

But as they have so many times in the past, they got going. And once they got going, man, they were tough to stop.

Nicklas Backstrom scored twice, Evgeny Kuznetsov had four assists, and the Caps pasted the Blue Jackets 6-3 at Nationwide Arena.

Braden Holtby became the first goalie to 30 wins, with 32 saves. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 42 Recap: Caps dump Senators, Ovechkin scores 500th (and 501st)

ALEX OVECHKIN BECOMES FIFTH FASTEST PLAYER TO 500 GOALS IN NHL HISTORY

 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals beat the Ottawa Senators 7-1 on Sunday night to win their fourth game in a row and 13th out of 15. With the win, they move 18 points ahead of their closest competitor in the Metropolitan Division and five points clear for the best record in hockey ahead of the Dallas Stars.

It didn’t matter much.

What mattered was Alex Ovechkin, scoring his 25th and 26th goals of the season, to become the fifth fastest player — and 43rd overall — in league history to score 500 goals. He accomplishes the feat in his 801st game, behind only Wayne Gretzky (575 games), Mario Lemieux (605), Mike Bossy (647) and Brett Hull (693) as the fastest to reach the 500-goal plateau — all of whom played in a era much more conducive to goal scoring. [Read more…]

OVECHKIN SCORES CAREER GOAL NO. 500

The Washington Capitals have a special player, doing very special things.

Alex Ovechkin became the fifth-fastest player to reach 500 NHL goal on Sunday night, giving the Caps a 5-1 lead over the Ottawa Senators.

Much has been written about the “Great 8″ — good and bad. Over the years, he’s been celebrated, criticized, vilified, rehabilitated and now, feted as one of the league’s all-time best. It’s a plateau that not very many players reach, and, at 30, Ovechkin still has plenty of time to reach even more milestones.

There’s one achievement Ovechkin would still like to add, that of Stanley Cup Champion, and with the Caps enjoying perhaps their best season, maybe this is the year they finally can challenge for that.

But for now, Caps fans should fully enjoy Ovechkin’s achievement and appreciate it for what it is and what it means. Simply, he’s the greatest goal-scorer of this generation.

From the press release:

Ovechkin scored his 500th career goal in his 801st NHL game, trailing Wayne Gretzky (575 games), Mario Lemieux (605), Mike Bossy (647) and Brett Hull (693) as the fastest to reach the 500-goal plateau.

Ovechkin, 30, was selected by the Capitals in the first round, first overall, in the 2004 NHL Draft. The Moscow native has registered 933 points (500 goals, 433 assists) in 801 career games with Washington and became the first player in franchise history to reach 900 career points on Oct. 20, 2015 at Calgary. In addition, Ovechkin became the NHL’s leader in career goals by a Russian-born player on Nov. 19, 2015 against Dallas. Ovechkin ranks first in franchise history in goals (500), points (933), power-play goals (185), game-winning goals (85), overtime goals (16), shots (4,035) and multi-goal games (103). The 6’3”, 239-pound left wing is a three-time winner of the Hart Trophy and a five-time winner of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. Ovechkin led the NHL in goals (53) last season, becoming the sixth player in NHL history to record six 50-goal seasons, joining Bossy (9), Gretzky (9), Marcel Dionne (6), Guy Lafleur (6) and Lemieux (6).

Since entering the NHL at the beginning of the 2005-06 season, Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals (500), points (933), power-play goals (185), power-play points (367) and game-winning goals (85). In addition, Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals since 2001-02 despite beginning his NHL career in 2005. He is the only player in the NHL to score 30 or more goals in each season since 2005-06 and his average of 0.624 goals per game is fourth in NHL history (minimum: 300 games played), trailing only Bossy (0.762), Cy Denneny (0.755) and Lemieux (0.754).

Washington Nationals trade Drew Storen to Toronto for Ben Revere

The Washington Nationals have traded reliever Drew Storen to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for outfielder Ben Revere. The team issued a press release late Friday.

Revere, 28 in May, hit .306/.342/.377 with 31 steals in 38 attempts between Philadelphia and Toronto. In six MLB seasons, he’s a .295/.328/.348 hitter. He’s a competent fielder and as a left-handed hitter, will most likely start in centerfield, allowing Michael Taylor to be used as a super-sub and providing insurance against the inevitable seasonal trip to the D.L. for Jayson Werth. [Read more…]

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