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Team Win in Raleigh

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Oshie, Ovi, and Grubauer Help Caps Overcome Canes

Posted on 16 December 2016 by Ed Frankovic

T.J. Oshie scored the game tying goal on a deflection and then he and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in the shootout to give Philipp Gruabuer a much deserved 4-3 victory over a speedy, pesky, and well coached Carolina Hurricanes club in Raleigh.

The beer will taste good for the Caps and their fans after this one.

Washington played FAR from their “A” game and they received no help from the referees in a come from behind win. As stellar Comcast analyst and former Capitals #16, Alan May, stated afterwards, sometimes the guys in stripes do too much homework before the game on who has how many penalty minutes on the season and they end up calling the game in a biased fashion. That certainly appeared to be the case on Friday night.

But that’s what makes this triumph for Washington more special. They played a lousy first period, mostly because they hadn’t skated in two days and because they had zero intensity, and trailed 1-0. It could’ve been worse, if not for Grubauer (27 saves), who kept them in it. They were getting pushed around a little physically in the first 20 minutes and somewhere after they killed an early second period penalty, they started playing with snarl and anger. As Justin Williams stated after that middle frame, the Caps played with more intensity.

One guy who had intensity from the opening puck drop was the captain, Alex Ovechkin. The Gr8 was doing what he does best, shoot the puck often and he was really moving his legs. On the second of the Caps only two power plays in the contest in period two, Ovi made a great back check that allowed John Carlson to set up Nicklas Backstrom (1 assist) the other way on an odd man rush. With Ovechkin trailing the play with speed and #19 with the puck, Cam Ward was in big trouble, and the best goal scorer on the planet made no mistake about it, burying the biscuit to even this contest up after a sweet back pass from Nicky.

Shortly after that, the zebras went penalty happy against the Caps again and suddenly Coach Barry Trotz’ crew found themselves down two men for 38 seconds. However, Jay Beagle, Brooks Orpik, and Karl Alzner plus Grubauer did an outstanding job killing that situation off. You know what they say, what happens on a two man advantage usually decides the outcome, and once the Capitals got back to even strength they took the lead. Matt Niskanen (two assists) pinched down on an offensive zone faceoff and he kept the puck in deep and fed it to Kuznetsov behind the net. With Ovechkin streaking down the slot and drawing the attention of the Carolina defenders, #92 found Justin Williams alone by Ward’s right side of the cage and #14 buried it for his seventh goal of the season. Mr. Crazy Hair, who worked his rear off all game, like most nights, has a hot hand right now.

The Caps would continue to play well in the middle stanza, but they unfortunately made a couple of mistakes in the offensive and defensive zone on one instance and that allowed Justin Faulk to get a one on one chance with Grubauer and the American defenseman made no mistake about scoring.

Heading to the third period it was anyone’s game and Carolina received another early power play and scored just eight seconds into it on a deflection that #31 never saw. The Canes kept pressing and they received an additional gift power play when a complete garbage penalty was called on Ovechkin for tripping in the neutral zone. That one was completely laughable.

But credit the Caps, they killed off the sixth man advantage of the night for the home club and then the last nine plus minutes they were relentless in an attempt to tie up the game and then try for the victory.

Their hard work and determination paid off when #77 tipped home the point shot of Dmitry Orlov with 6:04 remaining. As they’ve done a lot of recently, the Capitals scored because they had guys going to the net and they got the puck in that direction at the right time. That’s how you score on good goalies like Ward and Jaroslav Halak, you make them have a hard time seeing the puck because usually if they see it, they will stop it.

In the overtime, the Caps had some good chances and the Canes had five shots on net, but Grubauer, who kept Washington in this one until they found their legs, was not to be dented again. He stopped the first shooter in the gimmick and the second hit the pipe while Oshie and Kuznetsov used moves that May termed “just doesn’t seem fair” to win the game.

Again, this was not a pretty or dominating win.

However, it was a big one because the Capitals had to dig deep to find intensity and some anger and channel it the right way. They weren’t happy with some of the stuff Carolina was pulling and the whole team and bench were pretty ticked off at Tom Kowal and Evgeny Romasko, the clowns on ice for the night, yet they put all of that energy into their game and grinded out a win. It was a victory that required grit and mental toughness and the Caps certainly displayed that in this win in the Tar Heel State against a club that gives them fits.

Washington has now won six in a row and are 19-7-3 (41 points) for the season. They’ll take on the Canadiens at the Verizon Center on Saturday night at 7 pm in a game that will be featured on Hockey Night in Canada in the Great White North. You can bet that Rush guitarist and die hard Montreal fan, Alex Lifeson, will be watching. The Habs were defeated, 4-2, by the San Jose Sharks on Friday night and all world goalie Carey Price was pulled just 26:44 into the game after yielding four tallies on 18 shots. So will he get the cage for Montreal on Saturday against Braden Holtby or will Al Montoya, who owned the Caps with Florida last season, get the net? That’s TBD.

But Washington will deal with that later on Saturday night.

For the rest of Friday night and into early Saturday, I’ll steal from the late, great Chuck Thompson, “Ain’t the Beer Cold!”

Notes: Shots on goal were 30-26 for Carolina, but it was 24-23 Washington, at even strength…the Caps were beaten 33-25 from the dot…the Capitals had 24 hits to just 18 for the Canes. Washington, as May also stated, is at their best when they use their size to their advantage and hit…Ovechkin logged 19:41 and had six shots on goal in 13 total shot attempts…Oshie had four shots on goal in 20:21 of ice time, he was fabulous once again; sign the man long term!

 

 

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Part 2: Life On The Road, 30 Days of #GiveASpit and baseball (The journey)

Posted on 10 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

 

 

“It ain’t never been done ‘cause we ain’t ever done it.

You’ve got to stop thinking so negative, son!”

Bo “Bandit” Darville

(as performed by Burt Reynolds)

Smokey & The Bandit

 

 

ONCE THE TRIP WAS FINALIZED and it was decided that I’d be flying more than originally planned, the only real concerns we had about the voyage were the not-so-remote chances of some catastrophic weather or travel issues that could derail the goal: getting to 30 MLB games in 30 days without interruption or too much drama.

We also couldn’t afford to get sick or injured. Carrying bags around the continent would suck with a bad back or a bum foot. As we learned in 2014, your health is everything!

Would all the planes arrive on time? Would weather cooperate? Clearly, a few poorly timed storms and the trip would be a mess. You can only truly plan so much and then fate determines the outcome.

And if you’ve listened to my radio show at any point over the past quarter of a century, you know that I despise rain delays. Nothing good happens when it rains in baseball.

I’ve dedicated some time on the radio over the past few months discussing the trip and some of the comedy, drama and sights I saw on my unique journey. Most of my guests along the route joined me afterward to talk about it on the radio.

I’ve also joked that no one prepared me for 30 straight days of airplanes, airports, hotels, stadiums, restaurants and their various brands of cheap toilet paper.

There were many statistics and “over and under” side bets I was making with my wife on the 30-30 trip regarding beer consumed, hot dogs inhaled, hangovers, bad hotel pillows, crappy showers, lost/forgotten items, etc. And as much as we prepared to travel light and packed as little as we’d need, we never thought we’d really succeed in our goal of never having to check a bag for 30 days. But, miraculously, I literally lived out of one suitcase, one backpack and carted a giant cotton swab “prop” in a long tube through every TSA checkpoint in the United States. (By the way, TSA Pre is a wonderful thing!)

Toward the end of the 30-day journey, most mornings I was torn by an extreme coffee situation. I’m a coffee nerd but it became a daily decision about whether to caffeinate before a flight at 5 a.m. (and not sleep) or afterward, in the next airport or city after a plane nap.

And there were several days at the end where I was extremely loopy and working on three or four hours of sleep and moving from hotel bed to shower to car to highway to parking garage to shuttle to TSA to gate to plane to seats to sleep…

Some days – like in Dallas, San Diego and Denver – I was running on fumes and took a few hours to sleep. In others, like Los Angeles and Milwaukee, we were full of energy and put almost 20,000 steps on my wife’s Fit Bit.

You can see my 30 ballpark rankings here at WNST.net but to be honest there are no truly awful experiences in Major League Baseball in regard to stadiums. And the beauty is all in the eye of the beholder. As I wrote in my preview blog for the rankings, many of these stadiums – or is it stadia? – provide a pretty similar experience. Whether it’s hot dog races, presidents or sausages, it’s all kinda the same thing. They all do “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” in the 7th inning. They all bluster “God Bless America” every night. They all have “walk up” music for individual players.

Most have the most annoying item in modern sports – the P.A. or music or scoreboard imploring the crowd to “make some noise” with various cues and sounds. Nothing more cheeseball than that.

Every team has a team of people trying to make the “game day experience” something memorable. Every team wants to do something special when you come to the ballpark to lure you back and attract you as a lifer baseball fan.

Or at least they should.

But that part is a mixed bag – market to market, team to team, brand to brand.

Some teams always win. Some teams almost never win.

Some have vibrant fan bases. Many are a distant second citizen to the NFL.

Some teams treated me well. Some treated me like garbage.

Certain ballparks have a “wow” factor and some don’t. Some have good teams right now and some are in the midst of having awful seasons this summer so the experience wasn’t as rich. Seeing Toronto or the New York Mets in September would be far different than having seeing them in June. And seeing Houston and Kansas City this June was far different than anything they’ve seen in those ballparks in many Junes.

I had some “wow” moments and memories of my own on this tour and that’s what the rest of this essay is about: the stuff that’s worth telling you about.

Let’s start with the MVP of the 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit tour: artist Mike Ricigliano. The skinny dude with the funny hats has been drawing cartoons of me (and virtually everyone else in the sports world) in Baltimore for 30 years. I met him at The News American in 1984 on the weekend my son was born. He’s one of the enduring friends in my life and we’ve had a lot of laughs over the years. His son was originally responsible for dubbing me “Nasty Nestor.”

Here’e the story of the giant cotton swab – the enduring item from the 30-30 #GiveASpit tour.

On April 8th, I attended a Washington Capitals game with an NHL fan from Edmonton, Alberta named Rob Suggitt – a kindred spirit in hockey fandom.

While Caps Senior Manager of Community Relations Peter Robinson was giving Suggitt an incredible tour of the Verizon Center on the 27th night of his 30 rinks in 30 days mission for Make A Wish, I was telling them about my similarly arranged baseball tour.  Robinson said: “You should get a giant cotton swab and take it everywhere you go! That would help you get people on the registry.”

You know what?

He was right.

By request, Ricig made the fabulous cotton swab that started in the hands of Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson from Rush along with Randy Johnson the night before the tour started.

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It was an instant hit at the United Center in Chicago that night.

Every stadium we swabbed in – except Minnesota – we had Ricig’s giant cotton swab leading the way to get folks to our booth to learn about the bone marrow registry and get on the list for There Goes My Hero and Delete Blood Cancer.

Some of the looks we got from fans were priceless. Dude in pink shirt waving giant cotton swab in stadium bowl! But it was a lightning rod to get folks to our table for education, swabbing and success.

It also caused some attention we didn’t want. We were pulled up by Comerica Park security in Detroit and forced to take it to the car. They thought it was a weapon. I told them it was a weapon to save lives.

The gate agent at the St. Louis airport forced us to check it on a one-hour flight to Milwaukee but “The Swab” made it successfully onto 21 other flights in 30 days on the road. I guess if you get on airplanes every morning with a third carry on that’s a giant Q Tip, eventually you’ll encounter the wicked witch of Southwest.

People have repeatedly asked me what the highlights of the tour were over the 32 days on the road. It’s impossible to recount everything we saw and every person who was kind to us but I hope this essay captures the essence of

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Drew’s Morning Dish — Tues., May 7

Posted on 07 May 2013 by Drew Forrester

Ahhhh, now that’s the Caps I know and love.

With a chance to go up 3-0 in the series and put the Rangers on life support, the Capitals did what they usually do last night in Game 3 of their playoff series at the Garden.

They let New York back in the series.

That Washington lost, 4-3, isn’t really the story.

It’s the way it happened.

Skating around with cement in their boots most of the night, the Caps gave up a handful of bad goals, including the eventual game-winner in the 3rd period when Backstrom and Ovechkin were both puck-watching in front of the goal just long enough to let New York’s Derek Stepan sneak in and re-direct the puck past Braden Holtby.

Six minutes later it all ended in high-drama when Washington was handed a power play with 1:54 remaining and used an extra-attacker to effectively create a two-man advantage for the game’s final ninety seconds.

How did the Caps handle the 6-on-4 situation?

Not well.

They passed the puck around – and around – and around – and around.  They tried a couple of shots here and there just to keep themselves awake, but nothing ever looked remotely dangerous and the final horn blew with the Caps having failed to create one really good scoring chance with a two-man advantage late in the game.

If you closed your eyes and tried hard enough, you definitely could have seen Mike Ridley, Kelly Miller and Mike Gartner on the ice there at the end, flailing around, looking for one scoring opportunity late in the game. It looked like “the old Caps” in the final ninety seconds.

It’s a series now, as most of us assumed it would be, since the Washington Capitals never, ever, do anything the easy way.

I hope you have Game 7 tickets.  That should be one helluva game in D.C. next week.

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The story out of Texas where the high school track athlete was disqualified for “excessive celebration” because he pointed to the sky as a show of his faith following a race is proof-positive of what has gone wrong with this country.

These nitwits in Texas should be ashamed of themselves.

Young boys and girls need MORE faith and MORE God in their lives, not less.

Punishing that kid for his post-race demonstration is idiotic.

You would think adults would know better than to hand down an asinine decision like that…then again, those in charge who levied the penalty probably haven’t been to church in 25 years.

I swear, the things human beings do sometimes, huh?

It all makes me wonder how some people actually get by from day-to-day.

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I think I’ve had enough for now.

The Caps losing like that coupled with those clowns in Texas…it’s just about all I can handle.

The only saving grace is RUSH is in town tonight playing at the Arena, which means I’ll play some good music during today’s show as a tip of the cap to Geddy, Neil and Alex.

Stay dry.

Happy Tuesday.

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With every nerve aware, here are my Top 50 Rush songs of all time

Posted on 07 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

With my favorite Canadian rock band back on the road — approaching 60 years old, each of them — I am back into a groove of listening to Rush. I’ve been listening to Rush since 1980. I wrote about it extensively when they played in Baltimore in April 2011.

And since I’ve always presented my favorite songs by my favorite musical artists, today I present my Top 50 songs – in a very specific order.

These are some liner notes and odes to my favorite lines in my favorite Rush songs. And if you’re a casual Rush fan, here are some “new” songs for you to check out. I didn’t include any songs from Clockwork Angels simply because it’s too young to be put into perspective against the rest of the catalog.

I love me some Rush…

MY Top 50 RUSH SONGS

50. The Pass – Something has to be last in line and I really like this song. “Rebel without a conscience, martyr without a cause…”

49. Grand Designs – I love most of this album. “So much style without substance, so much stuff without style.”

48. The Body Electric – Always loved the drum and bass intro to this one. Old school, underappreciated.

47. Digital Man – “He picks up scraps of information, he’s adept at adaptation. Because for strangers and arrangers, constant change is here to stay…”

46. The Enemy Within – “It takes a little more persistence
to get up and go the distance…”

45. Mystic Rhythms – “The more we think we know about the greater the unknown. We suspend our disbelief and we are not alone…”

44. Earthshine – A beacon in the night.

43. By-Tor And The Snow Dog – They busted this one out a few years ago and the crowd went nuts.

42. Roll The Bones – “Why are we here?”

41. Fly By Night – Overplayed on the radio, I know you’ll think I have this one a little low but it’s never been my favorite.

40. Working Them Angels – Best of the more recent material for me.

39. Working Man – Another one that classic rock seems to like and this was the song that made them a viable U.S. band.

38. Nobody’s Hero – Took a lot of courage to write this one. I like musicians with courage. I like this song.

37. Driven – Incredible bass lines in this one that’s a hard charger.

36. Overture (2112) – Classic, timeless, spacey.

35. Temples of Syrinx – Love the crowd reaction to this one.

34. La Villa Strangiato – Some say the hardest song in rock and roll to play.

33. Stick It Out – “Don’t swallow your anger, don’t swallow the lies…”

32. Witch Hunt – “Quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand. Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand…”

31. Big Money — Got no soul.

30. Jacob’s Ladder — “The clouds prepare for battle…”

29. Middletown Dreams – “Dreams transport desires, drive you when you’re down…”

28. Manhattan Project — Dropping the big one.

27. In The Mood — “Hey baby it’s a quarter to eight…”

26. The Analog Kid — “When I leave I don’t know what I’m hoping to find and when I leave I don’t what I’m leaving behind…”

SEE PAGE TWO FOR TOP 25

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