Category Archives: Guest Posts

A Caps Fans And A Pens Fan Walk Into A Bar …

Mr. Irrelevant Caps correspondent Brad Parker returns (!) to preview the Caps-Pens series. He’s joined by Ian Brinksman, a Pittsburgh native and devoted Penguins fan who had the misfortune of working with Brad once. Brad asked the questions and Ian answered. Enjoy watching them go snark-for-snark.

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1. Didn’t you guys suck a few months ago? What the hell happened? (Figured I’d lob you one first so you can tell us how amazing your coach is and explain how Sid saved Pittsburgh.)

The Pens didn’t suck as such, but they definitely plodded along in mediocrity. I don’t think there was much strategic difference between Mike Johnston and Mike Sullivan, but the team certainly responded after the former’s firing. Part of that transformation has to do with the coach, but it also coincided with call-ups, the trade for Carl Hagelin, and yes, Sidney Crosby waking up from his early-season doldrums and tearing the league apart.

With all due respect to Sullivan, I think the main difference in watching this team now and from the beginning of the season (and frankly from much of the last half dozen years) is its speed. How Washington deals with it will be an interesting match-up.

2. Do Pens fans hate the Caps as much as we used to hate you?

Used to? Almost as soon as the Caps finished up with the Flyers, my social media was flooded with the familiar frothy-mouthed anti-Crosby vitriol. I mean, your twitter handle is dedicated to mocking him. But in answer to your question, no, not quite.

The Caps are certainly a rival, but they pale in comparison to our cross-state friends from Philadelphia. And as you would probably guess, that’s because the Flyers actually beat us from time to time in the playoffs. So yeah, the relationship is a bit condescending, which I imagine is part of why Caps fans hate the Penguins so much. Maybe this is the series that changes that, but until the Caps actually beat the Pens in April/May that relationship isn’t going to change.

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3. It’s obvious that we hate Sidney Crosby because he’s a whiner that dives and yet is treated as infallible by the incredibly biased Canadian media. Why do you guys hate Alex Ovechkin, who is the greatest goal scorer of his generation and plays the game with unbridled enthusiasm and infectious joy?

I’m glad to see your journalistic objectivity is intact. I’ll ignore the Crosby baiting, other than to say I wish the league protected him as much as is claimed. Maybe then he wouldn’t have lost a year of his career to concussions.

Anyway, I love how Ovechkin’s description has been updated over the years from “best player in the world” to “best goal scorer!” And I think that gets at the heart of the antipathy. Penguins fans view him as a threat and a massive talent, but (rightly) view Crosby as the superior player. So as the NHL rammed their “rivalry” down our throats, our tribal instincts took over and the need to defend Crosby translated into attacking Ovi.

Personally, I like Ovechkin. I have an affinity for all Russian players; I find them endlessly amusing. I don’t like a lot of his hits as some of them can be quite reckless, but I don’t have any burning hatred for the man.

4. Which Penguin, who we aren’t talking about now, will Caps fans hate in a week?

This might be a bit obvious, but I think it’ll be Phil Kessel. If you look at his stats alone, he had a solid season. But in typical Kessel fashion, he disappeared for large swaths of the year and started to hear some of the same complaints that marred his time in Toronto. After an especially ghastly game in March, Kessel was able to muster some consistency that carried over into the playoffs in a big way.

From my very unscientific eyes, he was the best player on either team during the first round. His speed and shot created havoc for the Rangers. And apparently this shouldn’t be all that surprising, as his performance in past playoff games and the Olympics shows a man who ups his game when the stakes are high. I don’t think it’ll be long before I hear Caps fans mocking our fat, balding winger.

5. Um, that goalie you have is pretty awesome, right?

Matt Murray is one of the most highly regarded goalie prospects and he’s absolutely playing like it. Even when Fleury is finally healthy enough to play, I’d rather keep rolling Murray out unless he starts to stumble. I like Fleury a lot, but this kid has been everything we could possibly ask for and I don’t want to upset that.

6. The schedule was clearly altered because Justin Bieber is playing at Verizon Center on Friday. What’s your favorite song by the Beebs? (I know you’re kind of a hipster and will try to pretend you don’t like him, but seriously.)

My favorite moment was when Bieber thought he was sufficiently street to rap “Lose Yourself” in Detroit.

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7. Will any games in Pittsburgh be moved because of a Foghat/Blue Oyster Cult double bill?

Scheduling a Penguins playoff game on the same day as the Steelers draft is yinzerpocalypse.

8. Would fans in Pittsburgh rather see the Pens win another Cup, the Steelers win another Super Bowl, or the Pirates win another World Series?

Ooof. As much as it pains me to admit it, probably another Super Bowl.

9. You guys always beat us in the playoffs, even when we’re up by two games. Do you have any fear playing the Caps this year?

It’s funny. If someone were to show me the Capital’s record, statistics, and a breakdown of their team’s makeup — but hid the name of the team/players — I’d be incredibly nervous. But as soon as the Capitals name was revealed, I’d relax immediately. I don’t think I’m alone either. As soon as the Flyers began to make a series of it, I watched as Capitals nation began to have a collective freak-out.

Look, I should be incredibly nervous. But the Capitals remain the Bengals of hockey. Incredibly good during the regular season, hilariously inept in the playoffs. Bungles are going to Bungle, and until they change it, Caps are going to Cap.

10. Does Sidney Crosby still live with Mario Lemieux?

Ha, no. Does Alexander Ovechkin still have a tramp stamp?

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11. In your opinion, exactly how many hats should be thrown on the ice after a player records a hat trick?

In the year 1389, the Kingdom of Serbia was overrun by Ottoman forces in the “Battle of Kosovo.” Despite an obvious military defeat, the Serbs spent the next 700 years viewing this battle as the ultimate victory as Prince Lazar’s sacrifice stopped the Ottoman advance (note: it didn’t).

I bring this up only because it’s the closest parallel to your insistence on always bringing up the 2009 playoffs, where Crosby made an ill-advised statement during the Capitals’ Game 2 victory. To follow Brad on twitter (@stopthehats) is to see this event mentioned in constant, triumphant joy!

But of course the Penguins would go on to win the series and embarrass the Capitals in game 7. Why this series would be remembered fondly by a Capitals fan can only be explained by some deep, horrifying psychosis.

12. The Penguins will win this series if …

The Penguins will win this series if they continue their season-long mitigation of Ovi (zero points), and not allow the Capitals’ lethal powerplay too many opportunities.

13. The Capitals will win this series if …

The Capitals will win the series if they find a way to slow the Penguins aforementioned speed, force them to make stupid penalties, and rattle the rookie goaltender.

14. Your prediction?

I don’t think any team will dominate. I’ll say Pens in 6, but I could just as easily imagine a scenario where it goes the other way.

15. If your prediction comes through which of the following will you enjoy more: the victory or my Twitter meltdown?

Your Twitter is a master class in trolling. The only thing that makes it bearable for me is when the Caps do lose, you seem to have a complete psychotic break. I especially enjoyed the series of cryptic Prince (RIP) lyrics during the game 5 loss. I’ll enjoy the victory more, but it’s really closer than it ought to be.

Caps Fans Get The Best Return on Investment During These NHL Playoffs

Here with a guest post about this Caps’ playoff run and league-wide ticket prices is Mr. Irrelevant tickets partner TiqIQ.

It’s that time of year again — intensity picks up, facial hair begins to grow and dreams of hoisting Lord Stanley swirl in the minds of 16 NHL teams. For fans, the harrowing experience of the NHL Playoffs brings forth a gambit of emotions, from the elation of a big win to the frustration of an overtime loss. Patience is certainly tested, but one question remains; which fan base is getting the best bang for their buck during the 2016 NHL Playoffs?

Looking at secondary market data for 2016 NHL Playoff tickets provided by online aggregator TiqIQ and VegasInsider’s Stanley Cup odds for each team, it appears that the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals provide the best value for the greatest return this postseason. At the other end of the spectrum sit the New York Rangers, whose exorbitant ticket prices at Madison Square Garden and long odds at the Stanley Cup make them one of the worst deals in the playoffs this season.

The above graphic depicts each team’s home ticket average during the first round on the secondary market as well as their odds of winning the Stanley Cup. Perhaps expectedly, the Rangers lead the list with a whopping home average of $518.50, though at 18/1 odds leave fans paying big prices for what will likely result in an early exit. Washington Capitals playoff tickets, however, are the ninth most expensive in the opening round of play at an average price of $234.72 at Verizon Center. With 11/4 odds to win it all, the Capitals serve as the best deal through the Quarterfinals.

Such a claim is better represented through the team-by-team value index, which can be seen below. These numbers illustrate which fan bases receive the best value by multiplying each team’s first-round ticket price average at home by their Stanley Cup odds and then dividing that number by 1,000. The lower the number, the better the value, and the Capitals lead the list with a .65 rating.

Interestingly enough, while the Rangers own a 9.3 rating on the value index, they aren’t the team with the worst value from a ticketing and competitive standpoint this postseason. That honor belongs to the Philadelphia Flyers, who typically post high ticket prices at Wells Fargo Center and have the worst odds of winning the Stanley Cup at 200/1. Their 48.7 rating is far-and-away the worst value in the league. That number is certainly impacted by their first-round opponent in the Washington Capitals as well, who are clear favorites to win their first Cup in franchise history this season.

Other notable teams on the value index include the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild. Prior to being eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, the Red Wings were second to the Flyers as the worst value in the 2016 NHL Playoffs with a 12.8 rating. That number is interesting considering the team’s continuous regular season success and record 25th consecutive playoff appearance, which didn’t seem to translate into a deep playoff run. Like the Flyers, the Wild typically own big ticket prices during the regular season and have the fourth highest average ticket price during the first round. Their 50/1 Stanley Cup odds make them the third-worst value at a 12.8 rating.

The Capitals may offer the best value to their fans, but several teams trail closely behind through the first round of play. Anaheim Ducks playoff tickets at Honda Center are the cheapest of the Quarterfinals at $145.11, and though the team has 12/1 odds at raising the Cup, they have the second-best value index with a .8 rating. The San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars follow at respective ratings of 1.3 and 1.5.

Of course, plenty of hockey is left to play, and it remains to be seen if the Capitals have enough to win it all come June. For fans, however, they’ll gladly enjoy the ride – and the value that comes with the franchise’s potential first Stanley Cup.

The Redskins Are Playing With Found Money

Guest writer and longtime Skins fan Kevin Stroop stops by to give thanks before Sunday’s Redskins-Packers playoff game at FedEx Field.

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This has to be one of the most unexpected division titles in Redskins history. As a fan, I am still in shock.

So how does this year feel different than the 2012 division title? Well, simply put, there were no expectations on this team this year. In 2012 there was a hint of optimism coming into the season. There was none of that this year.

We all remember the 2012 season and what that felt like. That second-half run to the playoffs and division title gave us a hint of what we thought was to come. The stadium in that week 17 game vs. Dallas was unlike anything I have ever felt. Euphoria doesn’t even begin to describe it.

We had invested so much in that team and expected so much that it felt like the payoff we deserved. We finally had a Super Bowl-winning coach and a game-changing franchise QB. Good times were ahead of us. Reality proved to be a lot different.

In 2015, we were still recovering from the aftermath of the 2012 season. The fans were apathetic. The team’s goals were simple: find out if they had a quarterback and show some improvement over last year’s four-win campaign.

Winning the division wasn’t even a consideration. For good reason, every single NFL prediction had the Redskins finishing in last place in the division. Vegas had them at 125-1 to win the Super Bowl and 15-1 to win the NFC East. Any sampling of NFL previews looked similar to this, from Bleacher Report:

This era of Washington football is dark and grim … General Manager Scot McCloughan has a long way ahead of him to rebuild this franchise, and [Jay] Gruden, while seemingly inept, appears to have job security heading into his sophomore season as the top dog. No one in Washington is thinking about laying it on the line for 2015. You shouldn’t be, either.

Earning the 2015 division title was a complete surprise. Clinching a division title in the NFL with eight wins is like finding $100 on the ground; you grab it and thank your lucky stars. Yes, the Redskins were fortunate to play in a bad division and they were fortunate to play only three teams with a winning record. But let’s not discount the team as pushovers.

They are 6-2 in their last eight games and also 6-2 at home. Kirk Cousins has put together an impressive string of games. The defense has come together and the Redskins have their key players on both sides of the ball playing well and staying healthy.

It’s not uncommon for a home team to defeat a team with a better record in the playoffs. And for all the talk about how bad the NFC East is, the Redskins were a respectable 5-5 out of the division.

Looking ahead, we do not know what 2016 will bring to this team. I think it is reasonable to assume the core will be back in Burgundy & Gold and we will eagerly anticipate the start of the season. There is no guarantee of a carryover to next season, though.

Occasionally, teams have this kind of year only to fade the next season. Look no further than the NFC East, where each team has won exactly two division titles in the last eight years, and no team has repeated as division champ since Philly in 2004.

In 2016, we may find out that Cousins is not a franchise QB. The team’s running woes may prove fatal. The defense may stink. The first-place schedule may bury them.

However, the NFC East should be there for the taking. Dallas should be better, but the Giants are doing Giants things, and the Eagles are recovering from the dumpster fire that is (was) Chip Kelly, so there is hope.

As for me, I am going to enjoy the ride this time, unburdened by expectations. I will be at the game on Sunday hoping for a win, but more than satisfied with the team if they lose. The enjoyment I’ve gotten from watching them this year has been found money, and I’m spending it without any regrets.

The Redskins Goals Have Changed

Here with a guest post for nailing his Skins-Bills prediction is Sportz Assassin, who we go back with on these streets to about 2004. It’s a thrill to publish his stuff. Merry holidays, everyone.

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In life, goals change.

When I was a little kid, I wanted to draw cartoons. That was until I wanted to be a baseball player. Then a basketball player. Then working for Nike. Then work in marketing. Finally, I ended up doing none of those things and taking a job that paid well but has zero allure. So on the side, I write about sports and the teams I love.

One of those teams I love is the Redskins. Their goals have also changed. If you told any Redskins fan that the season would end at 7-9, many would have been pleasantly surprised (including yours truly). I mean, this was a franchise in August that finally gave up on RG3, the head coach was on everyone’s chopping block, the nickname was being debated on every talk show and the owner was charging $50 envelope fees. Yes there was talent on the roster, but there was no reason to think this team would be the best in the division.

Yet here we are. The Redskins are a win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday away from winning the NFC East for the second time in four years. I mean … how? What? Really? Sure, it is more an indictment of the division than the Redskins dominance, but this wasn’t supposed to be. It still may not. A loss at Philly would be catastrophic for Washington. Philly would own the tiebreaker and the Redskins would need to win at Dallas in the season finale and hope the Giants beat the Eagles. But right now, the Redskins control their own fate.

So what will happen? The Redskins have won 3 of 4 and are the hotter team. The Eagles have lost 4 of 6 (though one of those wins came in New England) and their defense has been lit up over the last two months. Bad Kirk Cousins is a memory. Since that season-changing comeback win over the Buccaneers in Week 7, Cousins has thrown 16 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions. Cousins also has more rushing TDs (5) than the Eagles’ huge free agent pickup, DeMarco Murray (4). I mean, just give them the division crown right now!

However, your gut says that this is the NFC East and Philly will be ready to knock the Redskins down a peg. Many Redskins fans (including myself) are just enjoying the ride but are prepared for the rug to be ripped from under them any game now. I admit, I was in that camp. But, like the Redskins’ goals, I’ve changed as well. This may not be a team that will do much damage in the postseason but they are the cream of the crop in a division that went sour this season. No matter, the Redskins beat the Eagles this Saturday.

Redskins, 24-22

Why Papelbon Should’ve Squeezed Harper’s Throat With Both Hands

Here to weigh in on Harper v. Papelbon is my real-life friend and big baseball fan/coach, Wright Way. (It’s a pen name. Get it?)

Note that I disagree with him, but I think it’s important to get this view out there as it doesn’t seem to be commonly shared by Nats fans.

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There is a lot to be said for respecting your team, teammates and opponents. Respect on a baseball field is shown in a number of ways, from the way you take the field to the way you play the game. Additionally, respect is earned in as many ways as it’s shown.

One common misconception is the overlap between respect and fear. Many respected players earn the respect they are shown for the way they play the game; conversely some players are feared because of the way they play the game.

Is it possible to be both? Sure. There are current and historical players who have earned and lost respect for various reasons. There are also players who are feared for their capabilities as well as their antics.

Some examples that immediately come to mind are Derek Jeter and Ty Cobb. Both were exceptional ballplayers. Both had wonderful careers that are still doted on to this day. That is where any comparison should end.

Jeter was world class on and off the field. He was respected as well as respectful. He played the game hard every pitch of every inning of every game he participated in.

Cobb was the opposite of everything Jeter stood for. Was he a great player? Absolutely! However, it was how he played the game that kept him alienated from teammates and fans alike. Cobb was most definitely a feared player (especially to anyone covering second on a steal) for reasons far beyond what he was capable of showing in a stat line.

Fast forward to modern day and there are a number of players in the bigs who follow similar paths as those two. Do they play at the same superior level as Jeter and Cobb? Well, that’s to be determined, but when playing in today’s game of constant coverage both on and off the field it’s better to be remembered as a respected player rather than a feared one.

There are quite a few players that come to mind in the modern respected-feared conversation:

Mike Trout — Respected for the the way he plays the game, going hard every play to the point of self-inflicted injury. Feared because of what he can accomplish at the plate. Simply amazing.

Manny Ramirez — Once feared by any opposing pitcher who would face him in October, yet never respected by anyone who wasn’t a teammate, and often times by those who were.

Alex Rodriguez — Typically only feared by pitchers from April through August, and once respected by everyone until the truth of his PED scandal came to light.

Jonathan Papelbon — Now this is a tricky one. Papelbon, once known to throw hard and to be as selfless as any player in Majors, has had a change of heart. After departing from Boston his attitude changed significantly. He was no longer a team guy in Philly, and he alienated teammates and opponents alike. However, he is still and should be a feared opponent, capable of high velocity and not shy about throwing it high-and-tight to anyone he feels deserves it.

Bryce Harper — Another Tricky one. Is Harper respected? Surely by some, fans and teammates alike. Is he feared? Without a doubt. He was quite possibly the best player, statistically speaking, in Major League Baseball this season. But there’s another side to Harper that isn’t shown as much now as it was prior to 2015. It’s his unwillingness to perform when it doesn’t benefit Bryce Harper.

In one recent event the last two guys on that list were intertwined in a respected-feared incident in which they both showed exactly how two players can be a little of each, yet none of either all at the same time. Harper is still a young player who, at this stage in his career, should be doing everything possible to earn the respect of teammates, opponents and fans alike. He already has the fear of the opposition, because he can do it all on a baseball field. We know he can hit baseballs to the moon, we’ve seen his speed in the outfield and on the base paths, and he shows moments of having one of the best arms in baseball. What he doesn’t do, however, is respect anyone who doesn’t worship him.

Harper has been this type of player since he was a teenager in AAU ball. I distinctly remember a 16-year-old Harper berating an umpire over a called strike during a game that, in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t a hill of beans. It’s because of actions like that that Harper has a long row to hoe before becoming a respected player in the Majors.

Papelbon is headed in the other direction. Once a force to be reckoned with in late-game situations, he has fallen from grace. He still produces flashes of brilliance, but it’s Papelbon’s well-documented loose screws and cannon of an arm that also leave him feared for the wrong reasons and respected even less. His unrelenting willingness to throw at opposing batters for little to no reason and his reluctance to bond with new teammates leave him alone and not very much appreciated.

One thing must me stated, though, is at this stage in his career Papelbon is very much a veteran and should be treated as such, whether or not you like him, hate him or agree/disagree on his point of view. As a young player (e.g., Harper), when a veteran tries to teach you unwritten rules of the game, your ears should perk up a little.

It could be on how to read an opposing pitcher without stealing signs (this earns you a pitch to the ear on your next at-bat), or the appropriate actions to take when you hit a ball into the parking lot (don’t stare at it; everyone hits one there at some point, keep your head down and run the bases). And if you hit a can o’ corn, run the damn thing out. Are you going to make it to base? Probably not, but be respectful of the pitcher who just out matched you and RUN IT OUT.

And when you fail to abide by these and other rules of the game, a veteran will and very much should call you out on it. The appropriate action of a young player when being called on this type of thing is to acknowledge what was said, nod your head and correct it the next time. The absolute wrong action for a youngster is to spark an argument about it, disrespect the veteran and throw a jab of their own back. Actions like these when spoken, screamed, shouted or yelled to a veteran who is known to be a loose cannon will and should get you CHOKED.

The moral of the story is: Until you have been there for more than a cup of coffee, don’t kick back and put your feet on the desk. You haven’t earned it.

This Team Won’t Make You Happy

Here with a guest post for making the closest Week 1 prediction is Mr. Irrelevant reader/commenter Sam Potasznik.

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Last night, some friends and I got off the Metro, and I was shocked to find myself right outside FedEx Field. The streets were empty, and we tossed a football back and forth to each other in peace. No obnoxious drunks? No mile walk in the freezing rain that soaks through your boots and socks? Oh right. I was dreaming.

I could hear the announcers and the crowd, and I could somehow see through the stands to the field. Maybe the stadium was sunk in the ground? I don’t know. Don’t ask me how dreams work.

Inside, the game was starting. We were playing some sort of Vikings-Patriots-Dolphins amalgamation, and Belichick was putting Brady and Bridgewater on the field together at the same time. It was weird, but it was working. We were losing.

I walked under a brick archway and took my seat in the upper deck. There were so few people in the stands, but they were all enjoying themselves and stretching across the empty seats. A guy in my section showed me his novelty glass he got at a bar in New Orleans. For some reason. It was shaped like a rocket ship, and we laughed about it, as you do. The Vikings-Patriots-Dolphins scored, and I was pissed because it wasn’t Jarvis Landry, and I had him on my fantasy team. Even in my dreams I’m bad at fantasy. We were losing.

We were losing, but it didn’t matter. The sun was out. The beer was cold. Sometimes Alfred Morris would do something good.

After waking up from the dream, I feel better about my favorite team than I have in a long time. I immediately threw out the hundreds of blog ideas that had been floating around in my head. Before the season, I was so fed up with everything from swinging gates, to the racist name, to wondering why we support a business that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about us in the first place. But today those frustrations feels smaller.

I decide to follow my dream’s advice for enjoying the season and accept the losses. Jay Gruden won’t make me happy. Kirk Cousins won’t make me happy. Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen definitely won’t make me happy. So I’m done expecting them to. We’re going to lose a lot of games this year. Sometimes I’ll watch the games, sometimes I’ll read about them and talk about them with my brothers and friends, and sometimes, maybe, Alfred Morris will do something good.

Your Big 2014-15 Wizards Recap: They Came, They Saw, They Were Okay

Here with your semi-regular look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

Context is a funny thing.

Context is what enables you to say the Wizards were better this season than last, despite that they were eliminated from the playoffs in the same game (Game 6) of the same round (Eastern Conference Semifinals) by the same seed (No.1) on the same day (May 15), and you wouldn’t be wrong.

After all, they won two more games in the regular season than they did a year ago. This year’s 46-36 record constituted the franchise’s best winning percentage since the 1978-79 season, and it was the ninth-best percentage in franchise history.

Then again, it was also only one more win than the 2004-05 Wiz squad that featured a typical starting lineup of Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes, Jared Jeffries, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood. Kwame Brown was on that team.

And 46 wins would have been just enough to sneak them into the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs this season, where they would have faced the top overall seed Golden State Warriors. Yes, the same Warriors who came within a Kevin Seraphin baby hook of holding the Wizards without a field goal for an entire quarter late in the regular season.

Continue reading Your Big 2014-15 Wizards Recap: They Came, They Saw, They Were Okay

Caps On A Plane! A Running Diary Of Caps-Rangers Game 3

Here with a retro live blog of Game 3, written from a cross-country flight, is Mr. Irrelevant Capitals correspondent Brad Parker (@stopthehats).

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6:47 — $8 for DirecTV on the flight including NBCSN. Card swiped.

7:00 — Is that a set without a Milbury? Things are looking up already.

7:24 — BTW, on the plane you can’t page through the guide on DirecTV, it’s one channel at a time so I’ll be hitting the back button just flipping between the game and the Impractical Jokers mini-marathon on Tru TV which somehow exists between NCAA tournaments.

7:26 — Joe’s punishment on Impractical Jokers is to walk his dog on Wall St. in silly costumes. Let’s drop the damn puck.

7:30 — John Forsland behind the mic. I guess I will be able to nap on this flight.

7:34 — Just to be clear, you can get satellite TV on a plane, but I have to put my phone on airplane mode? How will the twittersphere survive a Caps playoff game without my snark? What if there’s a hat trick? Will people throw hats willy nilly without a reminder of Sidney’s refined rules of Stanley Cup etiquette?

7:39 — I’m at 38k feet and hearing @wesjohnsonvoice, Caleb Green and Bob MacDonald. What an age in which we live!

7:42 — Dammit! The volume on this thing doesn’t have numbers. How am I supposed to set it to 19?

7:43 — I feel like we didn’t complain about the disparity in PPs enough between games and we’re already paying for it. Could have gotten a call in the first minute.

7:44 — Does Pierre really think his name is Brooks Orpeck?

7:46 — They’ve gone to Pierre about 4 times in the first 3 minutes. Each time he has talked about the Rangers exclusively. I’ve been wondering if the NBCSN coverage really is biased or if it’s just our perception. So tonight I’ll track which team Pierre talks about first each time they go to him.

7:50 — This looks a whole lot like Game 1 vs. the Islanders.

7:51 — 4 more Pierre breaks, 4 more about the Rangers.

7:56 — Chimmer being Chimmer.

7:57 — After 12 times taking about the Rags, Pierre says Washington hasn’t gotten enough credit all year. Ironic.

7:58 — PP for the Caps.

8:00 — Ovi from the Ovi spot and Pierre says Henrik studies film and knew the one-timer was coming: “His brain is like a supercomputer.” No one else in North America could have seen that coming.

8:01 — PP opportunity missed. Let’s see how long it takes for the Rags to get a PP to even it up.

8:04 — Pierre with Trots. He talks about the Rangers first.

8:06 — Seriously considering hitting the call button and asking flint attendant for a Caps goal. Think she’d be displeased?

8:07 — Another Caps PP.

8:08 — Where the hell is Backstrom?

8:09 — Great chances but nothing yet.

8:10 — Another one killed. Rags PP coming before this period ends.

8:16 — End of 1, no score. Pierre count (times talking about said team first in his hit): Rags 18, Caps 4.

8:20 — Q had 30 seconds to get a feminine product from a stranger in the park. No dice so it’s punishment time. They dress him in a Peter Pan costume and tell him he’s going to have to join a live musical in progress but when he hits the stage it’s really pro wrestling.

8:34 — Second period underway, Pierre talks about the Rags but in a negative way.

8:35 — Rags PP coming on Alzner’s DOG.

8:37 — Serious turbulence, on the plane not the ice.

8:37 — Killed.

8:39 — Has St. Louis ever gone 3-straight games without destroying the Caps? Someone call Elias.

8:40 — First time I’m noticing he crowd being loud.

8:41 — Caps hold the puck in the Rags zone for 2 full minutes, Pierre compliments Rags.

8:43 — BEAGS!!!! I tweeted during Game 1 that no one has ever been more due than Beagle is now. That goal was earned in Games 6 and 7 vs. the Isles. 1-0 Caps 7:31 of the second.

8:49 — Scrum starts in front of the net and DirecTV goes out. We can land a rover on Mars but we can’t get a continuous DirecTV feed on a commercial flight for … it’s back.

8:50 — Feeling a little nauseous. Not sure if it’s the turbulence or having to pay attention to Pierre to keep an accurate count.

8:52 — Captain cuts the game audio to tell me it’s going to be bumpy for another 15-20 minutes. Maybe it’s not Pierre (it’s Pierre).

8:55 — Caps are buzzing, 3 good chances for the Wilson line. Pierre is silent.

8:58 — St. Louis on a breakaway, here it comes. And he shoots it harmlessly right into Holby’s chest. This is not the Cap killer I know.

9:00 — Glencross all alone in the slot, denied. Why the hell did he use up all his goals in his first week with the Caps?

9:07 — Pierre: “We’re gong to have to come up with a nickname for Holtby.” So true. Whoever comes up with a good one will be a beast. A Holtbeast as it were.

9:09 — End of 2, Caps 1, Rags 0. Pierre count: Rags 29, Caps 12 (3 about the goal and one entirely consisted of him saying “a man possessed” about Ovi.)

9:15 — If this game goes to OT will I have to do pushups in the aisle? Must get a message to @puckbuddys to confirm.

9:22 — Impractical Jokers marathon update: It’s the one where Sal is a tour guide on a boat and they make him kayak back to shore. Quality TV.

9:26 — Another pilot announcement about turbulence.

9:28 — Nash just destroyed Orpik. Pierre says it’s darn close to boarding then praises him. Not the Ovi treatment.

9:29 — One minute later they call the same hit on Wilson and it’s ok because of his reputation.

9:33 — KILLED.

9:34 — Did you know that the final score of the baseball games played at CitiField on Saturday and Sunday were both Washington 1, New York 0?

9:36 — Pierre just went on national TV and said that a 3-time Hart Trophy winner who is in the top 3 in PPG in the playoffs among active players has been a breakout player in these playoffs. This is everything that is wrong with the hockey media.

9:39 — This plane is bouncing like the puck at MSG the day after a Clapton concert.

9:43 — I wonder when they’ll give the Rags another PP.

9:52 — Rags just had roughly 57 chances, still 1-0 with 7:30 to go.

9:54 — Ovi to Alzner … off the post. Holy crap it’s loud!

9:56 — Any clear is a good clear. GET IT OUT.

9:57 — 3:13 left and they’re going to break with just crowd noise. Obviously, we are louder.

9:58 — Impractical Jokers update: Murr has his mouth full of novocain and he has to teach a class about cuisines of the world and sample the foods. Brilliant.

10:00 — Can we ask St. Louis not to play the final 2:16?

10:02 — Empty net.

10:03 — St. Louis can hang off the crossbar without his skates touching the ice, adorable.

10:04 — 47 seconds to go.

10:06 — Not 1.3 please.

10:06 — CAPS WIN! Never in doubt.

10:06 — End of 3, Caps 1, Rags 0. Pierre count: Rags 37, Caps 18. Goals scored on shots taken from in front of the net: 0.

I guess I’ll have to take a cross-country flight every game the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

10:08 — The past three professional sporting events between teams from the nation’s capital and the big apple:

Washington 1, New York 0
Washington 1, New York 0
Washington 1, New York 0

10:10 — Hey @NBCSN, can you just play a feed of John Forsland talking so I can sleep the rest of the flight? Wait, Parks and Rec is on, never mind. Best $8 I’ve ever spent!

Caps Fan Has Words With Isles Fan. 3,000 Words.

Caps correspondent Brad Parker (@StoptheHats) returns to preview the Caps-Isles series. He’s joined by his longtime hockey teammate and friend LJ, who is a diehard Islanders fan (apparently those still exist). Brad asked the questions, LJ gave the answers. We thank them both.

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1. The Islanders led the Metro division for most of the season. Why?

Main reason has to be the offense. The Islanders were 4th in the league in goals for.

An improved defense as well. Garth, who gets killed as a GM, made two incredible acquisitions before the season started in early October on the same day. Nick Leddy was acquired for a very good defensive prospect (Ville Pokka) and a pick, and Johnny Boychuk for a couple of second-round picks. The fact that Stan Bowman traded Leddy rather than Oduya is insane — Leddy would be the best defenseman on the Blackhawks not named Duncan right now. It goes to my theory that NHL coaches are by and large morons. Quenneville didn’t trust Leddy as much as he trusted others, and during their Stanley Cup and playoff runs, he was relegated to a sixth- or seventh-defenseman role.

Boychuk, meanwhile, given a first pair role after playing behind Chara and others, was also deemed expendable for salary cap purposes by Boston, and he shined with career highs in most categories. Ask Claude Julien whether he would rather have had Boychuk or Zach Trotman coming down the stretch. Boychuk is what Caps fans wish Brooks Orpik could be. As a plus, his brothers might be the funniest in the NHL family on Twitter (outside of Luongo).

Continue reading Caps Fan Has Words With Isles Fan. 3,000 Words.

Are We To Believe The Wizards Are Good Again?

Here with your semi-regular look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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Let’s recap the Wizards season so far.

They were really good up until the end of January, going 31-15 through January 27.

Then they were godawful and excruciating to watch not as good the next five weeks, falling to 35-28 in a brutal stretch that included losses to cellar-dwellers such as the 76ers and Timberwolves (back-to-back in fact, by a combined 28 points).

Now, they appear to have regained at least some of their early magic, winning four games in a row by an average of 18 points an sitting at a very respectable 39-28.

So the million dollar question: Are the Wizards good again?

Continue reading Are We To Believe The Wizards Are Good Again?