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Before Strasburg Mania Hits Tonight, Remembering D.C.'s Last 'Big' Debut

When books are written about the subject thousands of years from now, the history of Washington D.C. will be broken down into two separate and distinct time periods; the time before Stephen Strasburg pitched for the Washington Nationals, and the time after.

That's the type of impact Stephen Strasburg can have on the Washington Nationals and the city of Washington. On the eve of his major league debut, our Washington Capitals blog Japers' Rink took a look back at the last prodigy to debut in Washington DC, Alexander Ovechkin. After the jump, we'll take a look at the bar that has been set for Strasburg.

After a few seasons of relatively meaningless hockey in Washington, Alex Ovechkin debuted for the Caps in October 2005 and brought excitement back to what was then called MCI Center. Like Strasburg, he was expected to help keep the team competitive while also giving a boost to ticket sales. Right off the bat, Ovie did not disappoint:

On his first shift, the future star of the Capitals threw a body check so hard it dislodged the support between two pieces of plexiglass along the end boards, causing a three-minute stoppage of play -- not that the fans minded.

Ovechkin set the tone with that crushing check, then scored two goals in Washington's 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Capitals' first regular season home game since April 3, 2004.

Now I forgot my baseball to hockey translator at home, so I'm not sure what the pitching equivalent of a two-goal game is, but I think it's pretty good. I am sure however that if Strasburg is as successful in his debut as Ovechkin was in his, then the Nationals and their fans will be very encouraged.

That's all we're looking for in Strasburg's debut tonight, a reason to be optimistic about the future and an excuse to buy into the hype. Ovechkin gave it to Caps fans almost five years ago and the franchise hasn't looked back. Tonight, Strasburg has an opportunity to do the same for the Nationals.