WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 02: Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals reacts after a play against the New York Rangers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center on May 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
This week's Chain Reactions: Harper's a home run in D.C., the Caps Cup chances are still half full, and the Redskins once again give us something to talk about.
In sports, we tend to over-hype stuff all the time. That is why it is so satisfying when an athlete lives up to the hype, like Bryce Harper is. We heard plenty about him before he ever left high school. Now, the former SI cover boy is getting it done in the big leagues.
His manager has uttered the name "Mantle" in breaking down his batting practice at-bats. His teammates say there is no reason for another stint in AAA and he is producing in the field, on the base paths, and at the plate with a .375 average and a .625 slugging percentage. He even had the game winning RBI in Thursday night's win over Arizona.
The only person that has tapped the brakes since his call up is the big boss, GM MIke Rizzo. But so far, the kid has made the front office executive seem silly for even talking about him ever taking another at bat in Syracuse. The only negative may be that haircut.
In this week's edition of Chain Reactions, we hit on the Caps' cup run and the 'Skins' somewhat surprising 4th round selection.
Caps Hope for Cup Half Full
The Caps head into Saturday afternoon's Game 4 trying to get past the hangover effect of the excruciating Game 3 loss to the New York Rangers in 3 overtimes. The Caps had plenty of chances to win it, yet whiffed at their opportunities. Still, despite yet another bad experience in the postseason in extended overtime there should be no "here we go again" angst over the Caps.
In case you are not a history buff, here's a quick lesson, the Caps never win these marathon overtime games in the playoffs. That does not matter as the team heads into Game 4. This team is gritty and has proved mentally tough under Dale Hunter. That still does not guarantee anything as they try to even things up on Saturday. However, if we have learned anything since these playoffs started, it's this: Washington tends to play well coming off losses.
The Caps are also playing playoff hockey. Blocking shots, hitting, playing responsbile defense, and getting strong play between the pipes from youngster Braden Holtby. So while some fans may want to cry the sky is falling again, the Caps players look forward.
"You can't dwell on it," said Troy Brouwer, who misfired from point blank minutes into the first overtime. "We played a real good game tonight, I thought, holding them to one goal for almost two full hockey games. If we continue playing like we did tonight, creating offense, blocking shots, playing good, patient hockey, we'll be successful."
Game 3 was a fun game to watch if you could step away from the roller coaster of emotions. Outcome aside, you could not hate the effort, which was something you could do in years past. Expect the Caps to bring it again on Saturday and make it a best of 3.
This year's NFL Draft may go down as the most boring ever. Everyone knew the first two picks before the draft started and the most talked-about moment was the Redskins selection of Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins in the fourth round. Days after the draft, ESPN talking heads and sports talk show hosts were still talking about the move by Mike Shanahan.
I'm no Mel McShay or Todd Kiper, but I was not outraged by the selection like so many others seemed to be. Going into the draft, I thought the Skins would take another young quarterback. I never thought they would do it in round 4. However, by that time it was slim pickings at the position. As a matter of fact, after the 'Skins took Cousins in the 4th round with the102nd pick in the draft, the next QB was not taken until round 6 (San Diego State's Ryan Lindley with the 185th pick) . So clearly, there was a big drop off after Cousins.
I understand why some fans and media are questioning it. The Redskins had bigger needs at the time of the selection, like at cornerback and offensive line, and Kirk Cousins is unlikely to help you next season. He could help down the road, either on the field or in a trade, but that's down the road. The Redskins too often have passed on the long-term plan and settled for the here and now. That is not the case with this move. Shanahan may not even be here if the Skins don't win in the next two seasons. Yet he still took a young quarterback to be a backup or potential trade commodity down the road.
I think it is ridiculous to argue that this pick somehow undermines RGIII. If that is the case, the Redskins are beyond screwed, because they gave up the farm for a guy that can't handle competition. And RGIII hardly comes off as a guy that will wilt under the pressure of a little competition.
Plus, the Skins need a backup. The sooner they can wash their hands of the Rex Beck era, the better. They have half of that mission accomplished already. I had the opportunity to talk to Cousins shortly after he was picked and he admitted he was "shocked" the Skins selected him. By all accounts, Cousins, in addition to having talent, is not a trouble maker.He's an A plus character, a leader, who will do anything to help the team. You honestly can not have enough of those guys on your roster.
I know many Redskin fans that are still conditioned to expect the worst from the franchise. However, do you think Mike Shanahan would give up the freight he gave up for RGIII only to intentionally ruin him? That makes no sense at all. The coach's long-term future depends on RGIII being the real deal. Expect him to throw everything, including the kitchen sink toward make that happen.