July 3, 2022

Washington Capitals Game 46 Recap: Caps Clinch Southeast Division Title with 5-3 over Winnipeg

In a crucial late-season game for the Washington Capitals, facing the potential of clinching the Southeast Division or slipping behind the Winnipeg Jets and almost out of playoff position, the Caps put together a playoff-caliber effort in Tuesday night’s 5-3 home victory over the desperate Jets.

Spearheading Washington’s efforts were Matt Hendricks, Jason Chimera, Nicklas Backstrom, Mathieu Perreault, and Alexander Ovechkin, who each scored a goal in the victorious effort to sew up the franchise’s fifth division title in six seasons. Braden Holtby made 24 saves in the process of earning his 22nd win of the season. [Read more…]

Griffin injury shouldn’t overshadow Washington Redskins remarkable progess

In the end, Robert Griffin III proved to be mortal after all.

With the Redskins early 14-0 lead evaporated and the compromised quarterback valiantly — but vainly — struggling to lead his team to a comeback in the fourth quarter, Griffin’s injured right knee finally gave out on him.

After a bad shotgun snap, Griffin tried to sharply plant on the knee to chase the fumble — one of the very few times all day he attempted a truly natural play instead of a measured attempt to protect the joint. As everyone saw in the stadium and on countless television replays, the knee simply buckled under the strain of Griffin placing full weight on it and attempting an athletic play.

Face down in the muck of FedEx’s embarrassing turf, Griffin couldn’t even continue to make a play for the ball, which was lying at the Skins five yard line for a Seattle defender to fall on, giving the Seahawks the field position to once and for all end the Redskins day — and season.

Eventually, Griffin made his way off the field under his own power, but his day was done.

Many observers thought Griffin should have been replaced at halftime after an ineffective second quarter, when it became apparent that the Rookie of the Year candidate had re-aggravated his knee injury, devoid of any burst when rushing the ball and simply unable to play his game, which had carried the Redskins to this point of the season.

It’s a fine line when a player insists he can still help his team despite injury. Watching from the stands and at home on television it’s easy to play doctor. On the field, after all the Skins have gone through this season going from 3-6 to winning the division at 10-6, Griffin emerged as the unquestioned leader on this team.

Griffin’s exuberance to continue to play may have affected head coach Mike Shanahan’s decision-making, when all signs on the field indicated Griffin was compromised and his continued play could result in further injury to the franchise player.

“If you can play, you play,” Griffin was quoted in the locker room following the loss.

But adrenaline and pressure sometimes mask the honest truth: Griffin was obviously not the same player after he took a tumble limping to the sidelines on a second down play just before the Redskins second touchdown. It was obvious he’d re-aggravated the injury, and his play afterward was nothing like it was before.

The noticeable limp. The incapacity to plant while throwing. The indecision when he couldn’t tuck the ball and run when pressured. After Griffin limped through the second quarter, unable to play at even a fraction of his Pro Bowl caliber talent, the Shanahans would have been justified in making the switch right there and turning to Kirk Cousins in the second half.

But they did not do that. They stuck with Griffin until he could go no longer. Griffin is the unquestioned leader of the team and sometimes coaches have to ride with their stars, regardless of the circumstances.

After the game, Mike Shanahan reiterated that if the doctors thought that the damage could be elevated by Griffin continuing to play, he’d have lifted him. But he also admitted to being talked into letting Griffin continue by his prized pupil, with Griffin assuring his coach he was playing through pain, not injury.

It was a bitter conclusion to the Redskins first playoff game since 2007. Shanahan’s decision to ride with a compromised Griffin will be dissected until — and probably through — next training camp.

But it shouldn’t overshadow the remarkable second half of this Redskins team, the progression of Griffin and fellow rookie Alfred Morris, the Pro Bowl season from Trent Williams, recovering from his late season suspension last season to become an anchor for this team at left tackle, and the amazing seven-game win streak that gave the Skins their first division title since 1999.

While it may be dark now at FedEx Field and Redskins Park following this loss, there should be many bright days ahead for Robert Griffin III and the rest of this Redskins team.

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief and Washington Nationals Page Editor for District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards. Previously, he wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network and spent four years in commercial 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.

Seahawks formidable foe as Washington Redskins try to take next step

Robert Griffin III hands off to Alfred Morris in Redskins 40-32 win over New Orleans Saints in Week 1. (Photo by Brian Murphy)

First, the good news: the Washington Redskins won their last seven games in a row to advance to the NFC Playoffs. Now, the bad news: they advance to face the Seattle Seahawks, the next hottest team in the conference, winners of seven of their last eight games. Add in the fact that the Seahawks knocked the Skins out of the playoffs in both of Washington’s most recent post-season games (2005 & 2007) and that might have some fans of the Burgundy & Gold on edge Sunday evening.

If you’re reading this page, you know all about the Redskins, led by Rookie of the Year candidate Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and veteran linebacker London Fletcher. The Skins lead the NFC in rushing yards per game and are second in the conference in points per game (27.2). But the Seahawks are sixth in the conference at 25.8 points per game, so they’re no slouch either. Their secret weapon is quarterback Russell Wilson, a fellow rookie that will certainly garner his share of ROY votes in the off-season.

Wilson is in the mold of RGIII, a gifted athlete with exceptional presence in the pocket. He’s thrown for 26 touchdowns (against just 10 interceptions), while rushing for 489 yards at a 5.2 per carry clip. Wilson is supported by RB Marshawn Lynch, who carried for 1590 yards and 11 touchdowns. On defense, they led the league in fewest points per game, allowing just 15.3 per contest, and ranked fourth in fewest yards allowed. Formidable, indeed.

The even matchup and relative hotness of both squads has many pundits proclaiming the winner of the 4:30 pm matchup as favorite to advance out of the NFC — if they don’t get beaten up too much by their opponent.

This is pretty heady stuff for a team that was 3-6 heading into their bye week and had their head coach declare that he was in evaluation phase the rest of the season.

Mike Shanahan was asked at practice this week if his young team would be affected by nerves heading into the team’s first playoff game since 2007. “It’s been seven games with a do-or-die situation. So I think our mindset has been the same. Great preparation during the week and you’ve got to go get it done on the weekend.”

He’ll ask his rookie quarterback and rookie running back to shoulder the load on offense, as he and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have all season. “We’ve got a little experience over the last few years with our offense. We’ve been able to put a nucleus of people together and with the addition of [quarterback] Robert [Griffin III] and [running back] Alfred [Morris] who have been able to make some strides.”

While Griffin has received the lion’s share of praise for this offense, Kyle Shanahan has beamed about the production from Morris, especially since the bye week. “For about six weeks in a row, I’ve told him that he needs to have his best game of the year today and I feel that he’s continued to do it. Each game, he’s gotten better. It is rare. It’s a long year, especially for a rookie, and he’s never hit that wall.

“The guy doesn’t seem to get too sore, either. He’s always in practice as soon as we go on Wednesday – takes every rep. We make fun of him because he won’t ever go walk-through tempo either. He’s always full-speed. We can’t get him to slow down. He’s always fresh and he’s very fun to coach.”

Perhaps the biggest matchup on Sunday will be between the Skins receiving corps and the Seahawks big, physical defensive backs. Kyle Shanahan described what made the matchup so difficult. “They’re very good at jamming guys. They’re very physical. They try to beat you up all the way down the field. They compete in the run and the pass game. They have a lot of confidence in them. They play a lot of single safety and they get after it.”

Both Seattle corners, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, had their troubles this season — but not on the field. Browner returns this week after serving a four-game suspension for PED use while Sherman avoided a PED suspension by successfully appealing to the league. Browner had 44 tackles, three picks and three forced fumbles in 12 games. Sherman had a dominant season, even if Pro Bowl voters didn’t see it that way, recording eight interceptions to go along with 64 tackles, one sack and three forced fumbles.

It will be imperative for the Skins wide receivers — especially Pierre Garcon — to give RGIII open targets early to allow Morris the opportunities to find the seams in the Seahawks run defense, which ranked 10th in the league in rushing yards.

The Redskins run to the playoffs — and the play of their two rookies on offense — has re-energized a long-dormant fan base. A playoff win in the duo’s first NFL playoff game might have FedEx in a frenzy Sunday evening. With the Green Bay Packers’ victory over the Minnesota Vikings Saturday, should the Redskins emerge victorious over the Seahawks they’d earn a trip to Atlanta to face a Falcons club that didn’t exactly light the world on fire down the stretch.

Big game, indeed.

Washington Nationals NLDS Game 5 Review: Four-run ninth seals Nats fate in series ending 9-7 loss to Cardinals

How long does it take for unbridled joy and optimism to dissolve into utter disbelief and then despair? A half inning, apparently.

A stunning four-run ninth inning by the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals turned a raucous Nats Park into a mausoleum as quickly as that as the Cardinals came back from two runs down and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a period of three outs, beating the Washington Nationals 9-7 and winning the best-of-five series, three games to two, to advance to the National League Championship Series.

Nats closer Drew Storen, on the mound for that fateful top of the ninth inning with a two-run lead, got two outs while allowing a runner to reach third base. After that, he threw five pitches when the Cardinals were down to their last strike before elimination. The Cardinals swung at none of those five pitches, taking them all for balls, as Storen first walked Yadier Molina after having him 2-2, then David Freese, whom he had at 1-2. Then, as they had done all series long, the bottom two hitters in the Cardinals order — Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma — did the Nats in. [Read more…]

HEARTBREAK

A stunning four-run ninth inning by the defending Champion St. Louis Cardinals turned a raucous Nats Park into a mausoleum as the Cardinals came back from two runs down and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, beating the Washington Nationals 9-7 and winning the best-of-five series three games to two to advance to the National League Championship Series.

We’ll have a full game story with reaction from manager Davey Johnson and much more at District Sports Page throughout the evening.

Buckle Up, Nats Fans, This Is Baseball at Its Finest…

It’s do-or-die time for the Washington Nationals as they take on the St. Louis Cardinals tonight in Game Five of the National League Division Series in primetime at Nationals Park.

For a city that’s been starved of playoff baseball for 79 years, this is baseball at its finest – and the biggest game in franchise history since the Nationals arrived in the nation’s capital in 2005.

For the first time in MLB history, all four matchups in the NLDS and ALDS this week have reached Game 5, but for Nationals, the outcome of tonight’s game determines whether or not the team will advance to face San Francisco in a rematch of Washington’s 1933 World Series Championship against the New York Giants. [Read more…]

Frank Howard throws out ceremonial first pitch

Frank (“Hondo”) Howard, the former Washington Senators/Texas Rangers slugger, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Washington Nationals Third Baseman Ryan Zimmerman before the NLDS Game Four against St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday, October 11, 2012.

Frank Howard threw out the ceremonial first pitch – NLDS Game 4: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 11, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Frank Howard threw out the ceremonial first pitch – NLDS Game 4: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 11, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ryan Zimmerman caught the ball from Frank Howard’s ceremonial first pitch – NLDS Game 4: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 11, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Frank Howard chats with Nats Manager Davey Johnson before throwing out ceremonial first pitch – NLDS Game 4: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 11, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ryan Zimmerman and Frank Howard catching up – NLDS Game 4: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 11, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

Jayson Werth walk-off homer forces Game 5 of NLDS

After a 13-pitch at bat in the bottom of the ninth, Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth, crushed a 3-2 pitch into the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen, delivering a 2-1 win and forcing a Game 5 in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

“He’s a remarkable guy,” Nats skipper Davey Johnson said. “He can force a pitcher to throw a lot of pitches, and he did that time.”

“That’s the way that game should have ended.”

Ross Detwiler turned in the start of his career, allowing one unearned run on three hits and three walks over six innings, and Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen all pitched shutout innings in relief to keep the Nats in the game.

We’ll have much more soon at District Sports Page.

Nats gather at home plate to greet Jayson Werth after walk-off – NLDS Game 4: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 11, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

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Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Nationals coverage on Twitter @NationalsDSP.

OPINION: Washington Nationals rotation missing? Not so fast, my friends…

Tom Boswell is one of the finest columnists ever. Not sports columnists. Columnists. He writes eloquently on a number of subjects, but his forte is baseball. He’s the writer that many nascent authors and columnists strive to be. When I read his column today in the Washington Post, I wondered if he was still suffering a bit of a hangover from the Game Three loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

This paragraph is where it all goes downhill. It just simply isn’t true.

“Or at least the Nats don’t have the Gonzalez who won 21 games this season or the Zimmermann who has been in the top 10 in the National League in ERA the past two years or the playoff veteran Jackson who was in the rotation of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals last year.”

They *do* have these three pitchers. Let me show you.

Gio Gonzalez – His one start in 2012 versus the Cardinals was a five-hit shutout. He was impressive. But, take a deeper look at Gio’s numbers and his walk rate nearly doubles on the road. Gio seems to have control issues on the road for whatever reason. Gonzalez had his strikeout stuff in Game 1, but his control failed him as it has on the road all season. He walked four or more batters six times this season. And guess where all of those games took place? Away from Nationals Park.

They have the Gio Gonzalez that won 21 games for them this season. I saw him in Game One.

Jordan Zimmermann – In 2012 versus the Cardinals: 2 GS, 10 IP, 15 H, 3 BB, 8 Ks, 9.90 ERA, 1.880 WHIP.

Want his career numbers v. the Cardinals? 0-2 in 25 2/3 IP, 38 H, 6 BB, 9.12 ERA, 1.714 WHIP.

They have the Zimmermann who has been top 10 in the NL in ERA the past two years. He’s just a different pitcher against the Cardinals. I saw him in Game Two.

Edwin Jackson – playoff veteran. Prior to his start this year, Jackson’s post-season numbers are seven games, four starts, 22 IP, 21 H 12 BB, 17 K, 4.91 ERA. In his four starts, even worse: 17 2/3 IP, 19 H, 9 BB 12 K 5.60 ERA. I’d rather have a playoff neophyte than this type of  playoff veteran starting pitcher.

They have the playoff veteran Jackson who was in the rotation of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals last year. I saw him in Game Three.

The Cards are a bad match up for the Nats and it’s odd that Boswell didn’t even do a cursory study of the statistics he usually touts before tying his column to the thesis that the Nationals are missing their starting pitchers.

And if you are curious, Ross Detwiler got hammered in his only start against the Cards this year (not that Kyle Lohse is any better against the Nats). The series isn’t over, but the Nationals need to get something out of their starting pitching for the team with the best record in baseball to keep playing deep into October.

All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

PHOTOS: Washington Nationals First Playoff Game in DC

The Washington Nationals hosted their first playoff game ever at Nationals Park.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Washington Nationals 8-0 in game three of the NLDS on Wednesday, October 10, 2012.

In a nutshell:  It was a picture perfect day for baseball, however, the game did match the weather. Former Nationals Manager Frank Robinson threw out the ceremonial first pitch. You can read DSP’s game re-cap for details.

Here are a few photos of Wednesday’s NLDS home game one with descriptions under pictures. All photos were taken from the stands. Enjoy and feel free to leave comments! Thanks.

NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Stephen Strasburg was smiling during BP – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Today’s attendance was the highest game ever at Nationals Park – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

It is fun to see postseason signs at Nats Park! NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Rally towel wave – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Postseason batting helmets – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nationals Intros – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats intros: Gio is always smiling – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats intros: Manager Davey Johnson! – pNLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

During Nats intros, I bet Harper looked down, saw Zims highsocks and said, “Oh no, it is a day game! I’m supposed to be wearing my stirrups!” – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats intros – Morse giving fist pump to John Philbin – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats intros – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Love the Postseason paint on the field – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Flyover after intros – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats former Manager Frank Robinson threw out the ceremonial first pitch – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ian Desmond and Frank Robinson – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Looks like Frank Robinson made the umps laugh before game – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Former Washington Senators Announcer Charlie Brotman – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nationals starting pitcher Edwin Jackson – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-4 – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Racing Presidents do Gangnam Style and then Teddy won! – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ian Desmond doubled in the 4th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Christian Garcia – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ryan Mattheus – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Matt Holliday hit himself with a foul ball, twice and still was able to hit a 2RBI single in the 8th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Country Joe West said something to Michael Morse before his at bat in the 8th inning – Was Joe asking for the lyrics to “Take on Me?” – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Michael Morse hit a long ball to RF, however, Carlos Beltran makes the catch in the 8th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Drew Storen pitched a scoreless 9th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Drew Storen threw 11 pitches for a scoreless 9th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Jayson Werth threw his bat and took his walk in 9th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

My last photo of the day says it all (Thanks Jayson)…..NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

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