BALTIMORE—On Oct. 3, the Washington Capitals did what they’ve waited over four decades to do – they raised the championship banner.
In an elaborate ceremony with the players tapping their sticks on the ice and the Stanley Cup itself sitting and watching, the Caps celebrated last season’s championship by raising a red – as expected – banner to the top of the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. before the season opener against Boston. It was emotional and a moment that hockey fans in this area waited for since the team began playing in the fall of 1974.
The Caps had gotten their championship rings earlier in the week and started the season the night the banner was raised with a stunning 7-0 victory over the Boston Bruins. Washington got two goals in the first two minutes, one from T.J. Oshie and the other from rising star Evgeny Kuznetsov, breaking the game open.
“The way we played, the way we stuck together, the way we battled, the way we backchecked, did the little things, that’s what go us the Stanley Cup last year,” Oshie said. “It seems like that’s still in our game right now. I believe it.”
The offense answered again the next night but the defense gave up a power-play goal that gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 7-6 victory over the Caps on the road. Still, 13 goals in two games is a good start for the Capitals offense.
REDSKINS FALL TO SAINTS
The Washington Redskins went on to the big stage Monday night but did not fare well.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees became the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yardage as he led the Saints to a 43-19 victory over the Redskins in Louisiana.
The Redskins simply could not stop Brees as he hit 26 of 29 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns as the Saints broke the game open early and rolled. Brees broke the record with a 62-yard touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith.
Washington fell into a deep hole early and made it too tough for the Alex Smith-led offense to get back into it. Smith threw for 275 yards but the Redskins ran for only 39 yards.
“I think we got behind early, and we have [not] been a very good team when we get behind, for whatever reason,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said in post-game press conference. “It was just a total team [poor performance], and I’m the one in charge of it, and I take responsibility for it.”
Washington now is 2-2 on the season.
WIZARDS WIN; HOWARD’S STATUS IN DOUBT
Dwight Howard’s status took another bad turn earlier this week when the center, who has yet to play in the pre-season, went back to Washington for a shot to help his back, according to various media reports.
The Washington Post reported that Howard felt some soreness in his already-tender back Sunday after a workout (light) the day before. It is appearing more likely that he’ll miss Washington’s season opener on Oct. 18.
“He’s going to get a pain-relieving injection and hopefully early next week, he’ll be back on the court and be ready to play,” Washington Head Coach Scott Brooks said. “I don’t what that means for the first game, but we’re just gonna take it day by day.”
The Wizards have two preseason games remaining: First, on Oct. 10 at Detroit and then, Washington will take on the Guangzhou Long-Lions from the Chinese Basketball Association on Oct. 12. They open the season at home against the Miami Heat.
D.C. UNITED FIGHTS FOR PLAYOFF SPOT
As the season winds down, D.C. United has pushed itself right back into a battle for one of the final playoff spots in MLS.
The Black-and-Red will host FC Dallas at Audi Field on Oct. 13. A win would give D.C. United (11-11-8, 41 points) a temporary lead and poll position for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
As of Oct. 9, the Montreal Impact holds the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 43 points, so every game from here on out is crucial for D.C. United. With four games remaining on their schedule, United would need to accumulate nine points to assure safe passage into the postseason over the Canadian side.
However, their match-up against Dallas will not be easy as they sit atop in the Western Conference.
“We just have to keep pushing,” D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen said. “We have another ‘most important game of the season’ next weekend, and that’s just kind of how it’s going to roll for the rest of the year and that’s OK.”