Caps Heating Up Snowy D.C.

As the weather begins to change and temperatures are dropping in the nation’s capital, the city’s hockey team is beginning to heat up. With a 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Friday night, the Capitals won for the fourth straight game. The win moves Washington (18-11-1) into a first-place tie with Columbus in the Metropolitan Division. The victory also moves the Capitals past their nemesis, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are one of six teams in the division with 32 or more points.

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The Capitals have won eight of 10 games since they embarked on a short two-game road trip to Nashville and Colorado. One of the big reasons why is the play of goalie Braden Holtby. The seven-year NHL veteran stopped 27 shots on Friday night against the Rangers to give him 16 wins for the season. That ties him for second among all NHL goaltenders.

Aside from Holtby who gives the Capitals a chance every night, the play of star Alex Ovechkin has been impressive thus far this season. The perennial All-Star continues to lead the NHL in goals with 21 and has a total of 33 points to lead the Capitals. Ovechkin is the heart and soul of the Capitals, who will go for five in a row on Monday night when they take on the New York Islanders.

Ovechkin and Holtby have received plenty of help from C Evgeny Kuznetsov, who is second on the team with 31 points. In Friday’s win, Matt Niskanen scored his first goal of the season, the game-winner with less than four minutes to play.

“Hockey’s a lot more fun when you’re playing well, playing hard for each other like we are right now,” said Niskanen, a 10-year veteran who has been in Washington for four seasons now.

Niskanen’s goal was a big one coming with 3:22 to play after the Rangers had tied the score at 2-2. There are six teams in the Metropolitan Division that are separated by a mere five points. A regulation win was needed to push the Capitals further up in the standings. Washington coach Barry Trotz is not concerned where his team is in the standings just yet.

“I’m not getting too excited about where we are,” Trotz said. “This whole Metro division is a monster. We’re going to have to deal with it all year.”

Another plus for the Caps has been playing at home. The four straight wins all came in the confines of the Capital One Arena. Since Nov. 2, Washington is 10-2 at home and the team has won 13 of its past 18 games. Only five of those games have been on the road and the Capitals lost three of them.

Washington is going to have win on the road if they are serious about continuing their success. The Capitals have 10 games remaining in December – beginning with the Islanders on Monday – and six of those are on the road. The Caps will face nine different opponents – they play Boston twice – and just one can equal Washington’s 37 points. That is the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

The Caps continue to start fast. For the fifth game in a row, Washington scored first. Jay Beagle scored just 14 seconds into the win over the Rangers. The Capitals are ninth in the league in scoring averaging 3.1 goals per game. The power play is eighth (21.2 percent). Washington won the last two games without RW T.J. Oshie who is third on the team in scoring with 23 points (13 goals).

Redskins Blow Opportunity, Postseason In Jeopardy After 38-14 Loss

All the momentum generated from the Thanksgiving Day win over the New York Giants fizzled as Washington failed to rise to the occasion and lost 38-14 to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night. The loss all but eliminates the Redskins from the postseason. Sitting at 5-7, head coach Jay Gruden and company would need to win out and still get some help in order to qualify for the playoffs.

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The win was the first for the Cowboys since losing star running back Ezekiel Elliott to a six-game suspension. Quarterback Dak Prescott, who had been in a serious funk over the last several weeks, finally got himself right. Prescott didn’t have great numbers – 11-for-22 for 102 yards – but he did throw for two touchdowns and he didn’t make many mistakes. Prescott was sacked just once and didn’t commit a turnover.

Gruden thought his team was ready to play but just couldn’t make plays when they were needed. “I wouldn’t say we weren’t ready to play,” Gruden said. “I think, one, they made a couple plays, and, two, we didn’t make the plays we normally make.”

For the Redskins, it was a game filled with mistakes. Quarterback Kirk Cousins looked impressive at times and did finish the game having completed 26-of-37 passes for 251 and two touchdowns. However, Cousins was sacked four times and threw two interceptions. That was not all. Cousins also fumbled twice losing one of them.

“It was just miscues,” said Cousins. “A dropped ball here, we had a nice drive down the field the second drive, just a tough turnover, and then it was one thing after another that were just mistakes. They happen, and we have to correct them.”

Jamison Crowder committed a few costly mistakes. He was on the receiving end of a Cousins’ pass that Crowder allowed to sneak through his hands. The pass was picked off by the Cowboys’ Jeff Heath. Just minutes later, Crowder then fumbled on a punt return giving the ball right back to Dallas.

Dallas, now 6-6, did not make mistakes and were aided by an outstanding performance by running back Alfred Morris. The Cowboys would rush for 182 yards led by 127 from Morris who carried 27 times and scored in the fourth quarter on a one-yard run.

After a scoreless first quarter, Dallas jumped out to a 17-0 lead thanks, in large part, to a dazzling 83-yard punt return by Ryan Switzer. Cousins and the Redskins would answer though with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Ryan Grant with just 59 seconds remaining in the first half.

The second half was all Dallas but for a Josh Docstson 14-yard touchdown reception from Cousins early in the fourth quarter. The loss does not officially eliminate Washington, but the chances of reaching the postseason are slim. To understand how slim – Dallas, Green Bay, Detroit, Atlanta, Seattle, and Carolina must go 5-19 over the course of the next four weeks, and, of course, the Redskins must win out.

Winning out begins with a trip to Los Angeles where Gruden and company have to face the red-hot Chargers. A 19-10 win over the Browns last week gave the Chargers their third straight victory. L.A. is now 6-6 and has a very good chance of winning the AFC West. The Redskins will have to slow a very potent offense led by QB Philip Rivers. More importantly, the Chargers recent success is due to an improved defense that features one of the most feared pass rushes in the NFL. Joey Bosa (11.5) and

Melvin Ingram (8.5) have combined for 20 sacks so far this season.

If history is any indication, the Redskins own a 7-3 record over the Chargers all-time. The Redskins won the last time the two teams met in 2013. The last two times (2001, 2010) Washington played the Chargers on the road – the franchise was in San Diego – the Redskins lost.

Redskins Defeat Giants, Face Must-Win Against Cowboys Thursday

It was far from pretty, but sometimes pretty doesn’t matter. Washington got two touchdown passes from quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Redskins defense held the hapless New York Giants to just 170 yards of total offense in a 20-10 Thanksgiving Day victory.

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“We found a way to win and the defense kept us in the game all night long,” said Cousins, who connected on 19-of-31 passes for 242 yards. “This game just tests you every week and you have those moments throughout the game that emotionally you just get punched in the gut.”

The Redskins were tested all game long as Cousins and the Redskins’ offense produced all of one field goal in the first half. In fact, the Giants and Redskins combined for nine punts and just six points in the opening half of play. The winners’ first-half scoring drive consisted of 38 yards. The big play on the drive was a 37-yard pass interference penalty. That gives you an idea of how lethargic the offenses were in the first half.

“There were several sloppy plays that I would chalk up to the fact that they were sloppy because it was a short week,” said Cousins. The Redskins had faced New Orleans in a tough 34-31 loss just four days prior to Thursday’s win. “I’m glad we found a way to win.”

Find a way they did. Cousins would locate Jamison Crowder on a 15-yard scoring strike in the third quarter to give Washington a 10-3 lead. The eventual game-winner came on a 14-yard toss to last year’s first-round pick WR Josh Doctson with 3:31 left in the game. A Nick Rose 33-yard field goal with 1:49 to play provided insurance.

The Giants’ lone touchdown also came on a Cousins’ pass, one that Janoris Jenkins intercepted and returned 53 yards for a score late in the third quarter. The 53 yards on Jenkins’ return were more than the Giants’ entire offensive output of the second half. Head coach Ben McAdoo’s offense gained 47 yards and exactly one first down in the final two quarters of play.

Rookie running back Samaje Perine gained 100 yards on 24 carries and Crowder had game-highs in receptions (7) and receiving yards (141). The 84 rushing yards allowed and the four sacks of Giants’ QB Eli Manning are steps in the right direction for a Redskins defense that is far from where it needs to be. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky needs his unit to be equally sharp this coming Thursday when the Redskins travel to AT&T Stadium to take on the Dallas Cowboys.

Like Washington, Dallas played on Thanksgiving Day though the Cowboys’ result was far less pleasing. Dallas lost for the third consecutive week and the Ezekiel Elliott-less offense produced a mere six points. In the three games since Elliott began serving his six-game suspension, the Cowboys have put up a whopping 22 points. The defense hasn’t fared much better giving up 92 points in the three losses.

At 5-6, the Redskins cannot afford a loss on Thursday if they wish to continue entertaining the idea of the postseason. Head coach Jay Gruden believes his quarterback can lead his team to the playoffs. “It’s kind of like baseball – October, right? Mr. October?” said Gruden. “Consistency is very important but the bigger the game, the bigger the show you want your quarterback to have.”

In 2015 after starting 3-5, Cousins was able to lead the Redskins to a 9-7 finish and a berth in the NFC playoffs. Washington will not face the same Cowboys team that beat them 33-19 in October. Dallas has been ineffective since the loss of Elliott. To finish the season, the Redskins have four very winnable

games with the Chargers, Cardinals, Broncos, and the Giants for a second time.

Need to Know: Redskins vs Vikings

Week 10 of the 2017-2018 season is upon us. The Washington Redskins will take the field here in Landover, Maryland in just a few short hours to take on the Minnesota Vikings. The DTC crew is live from FedEx field with 5 quick thoughts you need to know before kickoff at 1:00pm eastern.20171112_152715673_iOS

  1. The weather. The forecast earlier this week was calling for a slight bit of rain showers with the possibility of snow showers. It looks like the rain has decided to hold off and its not quite cold enough for any type of wintery precipitation. The field is in as good as condition as possible for a mid-November game. The grass is green outside the numbers, and in as moderate shape as possible inside the numbers for a mid-November game.  
  2. The offensive line seems to be getting a little healthier. It looks like Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff will possibly give it a go today, with Long and Lauvao still questionable. That means there is a chance that the full starting offensive line may be ready to go. If this offensive line is healthy enough to create some running lanes for Rob Kelly, Chris Thompson and the running game, it would be a huge boost to this offense.
  3. Maurice Harris was promoted to the 53 man roster yesterday. That may mean the Redskins aren’t expecting Brian Quick to be cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol. It will be interesting to see if Maurice Harris is on the field to return kicks and punts, and if he gets any run at WR.
  4. Teddy Bridgewater is slated to be Case Keenum’s backup. It’s not hard for me to imagine that if Case struggles that Mike Zimmer pulls the plug and drops Teddy Bridgewater in. It will be interesting to see how long the Case leash is. The Redskins defense may have to ultimately game plan for 2 different quarterbacks.
  5. Stephon Diggs had a field day against the Redskins defense just one year ago. Diggs was targeted 15 times and caught 13 for 164 yards. Of which most came in the first half against Kendall Fuller. Fuller is playing leaps and bounds better this year; however, it will be interesting to see if Fuller can get the better of Diggs today.

Wizards Seem Unfocused; Bored

When a team goes to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, you expect them to come in the next year motivated and hungry to take the next step. That’s exactly how things looked to play out as the Wizards started the year going 3-0 and they beat up on rising Philadelphia, a Pistons team that has proven to be legit good the first 3 weeks this year, and a Denver squad that had all the makings of a deep playoff run after the addition of Paul Millsap. Since then, it has been terrible loss after terrible loss to the dregs of the NBA. Sure, they’ve mixed in a couple of solid wins against the Knicks and Raptors, but in losing 5 of their last 7 the Wizards have shown us what they are….A flawed, inconsistent team who talks a bigger game than what they show night to night.

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Don’t believe me? Just look at the quotes from Bradley Beal and John Wall before their game with Cleveland last Friday night. Claims by both of them that Cleveland ‘tanked’ to avoid the Wizards in the second round last year or that they view themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference. This from a team that had lost to Phoenix (PHOENIX!) a couple of nights prior and then promptly went out and got smacked around by LeBron to the tune of 57 points and a near triple-double. Not to be outdone, the Wizards, after beating Toronto, went out and laid an absolute egg against the Mavericks, a double-digit loss to a bottom-feeder in the Western Conference. Dallas came in and embarrassed the Wizards on their home floor and left with twice as many wins as they had coming in. So that’s two losses to the worst that the Western Conference has to offer along with a failure to back up their smack talk against LeBron. Even Lavar Ball disrespected the Wizards and instead of doing something about it, they lost to his son’s team, the Lakers, just as Lavar had predicted.

It’s early so it’s easy to get caught up in bad losses and focus on those negatives instead of the positives. Hell, Cleveland has gotten beaten up pretty badly over the first weeks of the season suffering bad losses to some of the worst teams in the league. The difference? Cleveland has 3 straight trips to the finals and a Championship trophy to hang their hats on. What do the Wizards have? Other than a couple of trips to the second round, absolutely NOTHING. When you don’t have a track record, you need to set your sights on earning one before talking a big game. The Wizards instead seem set on establishing a track record through their words; making them an entitled team that hasn’t won anything to speak of. Just like the rest of D.C. sports, they talk a big game, but don’t do anything on the field or court to back up that talk.

This year, the East is as wide-open as it has ever been. There seems to be one near-complete team, the Celtics, and a bunch of teams trying to wiggle their way to the top. Cleveland, despite the Celtics 10-game winning streak, is clearly the favorite even with their shaky start to the season. Then there is a second tier where the Wizards belong, but instead they see themselves as a favorite, not a second tier team. That’s a good mentality to have sure, but at the same time you have to beat someone before you think of yourselves that way. Milwaukee is rising fast due to another leap by Giannis and a smart trade to get him some help in trading for Eric Bledsoe. Toronto is still here, but no one expects them to seriously challenge Boston or Cleveland. A bunch of teams have surprised early on like the aforementioned Pistons and 76ers as well as the Magic and Pacers, but again they are first-round fodder for the top teams in the Conference. It gets late early as they say so the Wizards better get their act together if they want home-court advantage at least in the first round.

Not all hope is lost, however, despite the terrible losses. Markieff Morris is back healthy and contributing which unlocks a lot of what the Wizards want to do in terms of downsizing their lineups. Otto Porter has taken his game to another level early on and has been the most consistent starter so far this year. Even Bradley Beal has taken a mini-leap, being more assertive and taking his drives to the basket instead of pulling up for a deep jumper in years past. An encouraging development has been the play of Kelly Oubre early on. With better focus and consistency, the Wizards can start to rely on him for bigger minutes down the stretch. The possibilities for a lineup with Wall, Beal, Oubre, Porter, and Morris are mouth-watering to think about given the overall length and speed that this lineup possesses. It could be a great closing group if everyone maintains their early season improvements throughout the course of the year.

Who do the Wizards want to be? That’s the question that these guys have to answer. Do they just want to be a second-round team for the next few years? That’s certainly possible given the lay of the East. To go deeper, the Wizards will have to dig deeper and find that next gear that only shows up in certain games. Good teams are good night-to-night and not just on the nights that they have something to prove. The East is there for the taking, it’s on these guys to go out and take it.