It was a strong weekend for D.C. sports, featuring the Capitals beating their hated rival, a deserving former Redskin finally gets his due from the NFL Hall of Fame and two local college hoops teams continue to add to real strong NCAA tournament resumes. Of course, it was not a perfect week. The road-weary Wizards now lose at home too, and it was a pretty bad week for the Redskins' owner and his defensive tackle.
These are just some of the stories and more in this week's Chain Reactions.
Caps Add to Pittsburgh's Miserable Sports Weekend
Sure, there was no Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, and it wasn't the playoffs, but who cares. Beating the Pittsbugh Penguins never gets old. The Capitals have to be feeling good with a big win at Tampa Bay on Friday and then shutting out the hated Penguins on Sunday. Also, it was sweat revenge for Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth, who Penguins coach Dan Bylsma called "shaky" on HBO during the NHL Winter Classic buildup. Neuvirth got the start for Semyon Varlamov who was feeling ill.
"Before the game, I remembered when he said that," Neuvirth said, "and I kind of looked at him during the warm-up and told myself that I got to shut these guys out tonight."
What a bad weekend for Pittsburgh. Their two Hall of Fame candidates came up empty, the Penguins lost and, oh yeah, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost Super Bowl XLV.
Chris Hanburger Finally Headed to the NFL Hall of Fame
Chris Hanburger collected Pro Bowl appearances before it became the popularity contest it is today. There was no Internet fan voting when the "Hangman" was making plays that earned him the respect of those closest to the game. He appeared in nine Pro Bowls and was a four-time All Pro.
(On a side note, My father brought me home a stuffed Chris Hanburger 55 doll from a Skins game when I was a kid. I cherished that thing until my dog ripped its head off).
"It's wonderful," Hanburger said in a conference call. "I am just overwhelmed. It's just a tremendous honor to have been nominated, much less get in. . . . It's just a select group that make it."
More Redskins Stuff
There was actual Redskins news from Super Bowl week that had nothing to do with lawsuits and road rage. Santana Moss appears ready to test the market and become a free agent. Speaking of markets, is there one for Donovan McNabb? Apparently the dream of dealing McNabb to Arizona is just that, at least if Cardinals wide receiver/assistant general manager Larry Fitzgerald has anything to say about it.
McNabb should be one of the top free agent quarterbacks on the market, despite his age and poor 2010 performance, but the Cardinals aren't a team that's been considered likely to show any interest in him, should the Redskins end up not picking up his option.
The Georges are Streaking (‘Town and Mason)
Georgetown continues to build a solid NCAA tournament resume, as they have now won six straight after holding off Providence on Saturday. Austin Freeman continues to play like the guy who was picked in the Preseason to be the Big East Player of the Year.
Meanwhile, George Mason owns a nine-game winning streak after destroying Old Dominion (my alma mater) on Saturday. The Patriots are on solid ground on the NCAA front and sit atop the CAA along with Virginia Commonwealth.
Too Little Too Late for the Terps?
With its blowout win over weak Wake Forest, Maryland is now 15-8 on the season and 5-4 in the ACC. Back in the day, being on the plus side of .500 in the ACC meant an automatic bid, but there is no such guarantee these days. Maryland is just 1-7 against the RPI Top 50 and are nowhere on the radar in the latest bracketology projections. The Terps also still have opportunities on the schedule in their final eight games (at Virginia Tech, at North Carolina) and if all else fails, they could of course win the ACC tournament.
Wizards Can't Win at Home Now Either
The Wizards' Road Woes are now just woes after dropping two on their home floor this weekend. The Wizards have now dropped seven straight overall and 10 of their last 11. The good news for the Wizards is that they play at struggling Cleveland (losers of 24 straight) on Sunday with a real chance to end that 25-game road skid. Of course the Cavaliers are probably thinking the same thing about facing the Wizards.