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Washington Capitals In Critical Condition In 2011 NHL Playoffs, And Redskins Do Well At 2011 NFL Draft

The Caps hopes of hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup are in critical condition, and the Redskins hit lots of needs at the NFL Draft except for one big one. Plus, George Mason finds their man.

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In this week's Chain Reactions, let us give pause and remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, in the wake of the news of Osama Bin Laden's death. Also, here's a big high five to those amazing Navy Seals, who completed the operation. Thank you to all our troops.

On with the rest of the sports.


Washington Capitals in Critical Condition

The Capitals find themselves down 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning after Sunday's 3-2 overtime loss in Game 2 of their 2011 NHL Playoffs series at Verizon Center. Sunday's nights loss was very frustrating because it appeared the Caps had outplayed the Lightning, but a poor line change did them in during the overtime period. For the second straight game the Caps also were a victim of a bad bounce. The Lightning have scored goals in each game that have hit off Caps players. In Game One, they scored off Scott Hannan's stick, and in Game 2, they got a goal off a shot that hit Mike Green's skate.


The bigger issue has been the Caps' power play struggles They are 0 for 11 in the series and only 3 for 27 in the playoffs.

We're trying," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We're trying different things. We're trying to make things work. Obviously it's not . . .We've just got to keep going at it."

The Caps have been here before, rallying from a 2-0 against the New York Rangers in the 2009 Playoffs. The Caps are also talented enough to do it, but they have to work hard like they have been all season long.

Experts Hand out Grades on Redskins' Draft

Most realistic Redskins observers believe the franchise is more than one draft away from hitting all of their needs, so it is funny to me that so much hang wringing is going on over the fact that they did not take a quarterback in the draft. They hit lots of other need areas (OLB, NT, DB, RB, and WR) instead. The only issue is that they didn't get the most important position (they only spent one pick on the offensive line) and did have a couple of opportunities to fill that void.

Usually, how these NFL Draft grades work is that we give high praise to teams that take players were like and bash teams that do not. For the Redskins, certainly you have to like the safety in numbers approach and that they found players that appear to fit their schemes. They might have found some immediate impact skill guys on Days 2 and 3 of the draft, specifically third-round pick Leonard Hankerson (a poor man's Andre Johnson at receiver) and fourth-round pick Roy Helu, a one-cut downhill running back.

So did the Skins make a mistake by not taking a quarterback? Not if they were not Blaine Gabbert fans and thought Christian Ponder was more of a late-first to early second-round talent. If so, why force the issue? This philosophy of theirs seems like more of a long-term view than the rush to do it NOW, which is the usual criticism about the Redskins. The 2012 draft class is full of talented quarterbacks too.

Plus, the Redskins may already have their QB of the future on the roster...

Mike Shanahan High on John Beck, but others are skeptical

As mentioned above, Mike Shanahan and the Redskins passed on several opportunities to take a quarterback of the future. So, they will have to wait until the 2012 draft to find the franchise signal caller. Unless, of course, you believe that Shanahan believes some of the stuff he was spewing about journeyman John Beck after the team wrapped up the draft Saturday.

Shanahan said. "He has everything you look for in a quarterback. No. 1 you have to love the game, you have to have the mindset. What I'm looking for is a guy first to work and last to leave. You've got to be able to run this offense at a very high level. He can do things with his legs that a lot of quarterbacks can't do."

"I have a lot of confidence in John Beck," Shanahan said. "I think the world of him."

OK, a couple things come to mind. When I list quarterbacks "I think the world of," I think Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. Not really a list that would include John Beck. I know Shanahan is a quarterback guru, but if he really believes what he is saying, why not identify him as the starter after last season? Why not PLAY him when McNabb was benched?

There's too much of a history of stretching the truth from the head coach to buy into what he is saying. Sure, they may have no choice if they do not resign Rex Grossman or bring in another quarterback, but this public profession of love seems way over the top. Maybe he was just tired from making so many draft picks.

George Mason Gets Another Final Four Coach

Raise your hand if you thought George Mason would replace their Final Four Coach with another? Well, that is exactly what they have done with the hire of former Georgia Tech Coach Paul Hewitt.

Hewitt took the Yellow Jackets to the Final Four in 2004, but that was the only season he had a winning record in ACC play. He went 190-162 over 11 years at the school and was 72-104 in the conference. Continuity was an issue for Hewitt at Georgia Tech, where he could get the talent to campus but rarely kept it, as it usually jumped to the NBA. He should have no such problem in Fairfax. He is a fantastic recruiter.


Hewitt, 47, is set to receive a $7.2 million buyout over five years from Georgia Tech, which would seem to make him a steal for the Patriots. However, it was not the potential dollars saved that tipped the scale towards Hewitt.

"Paul is an excellent teacher of basketball," President Tom O'Connor said. "He's a great communicator. He's done wonderful things in the community. We felt he was the total package."




Ryan Zimmerman Injures Six Pack

The Nationals' offensive struggles took a big blow over the weekend with the news Ryan Zimmerman will miss six weeks. He is set for surgery on a tear of the rectus muscle, or his "six pack." Well, that's why I don't have one. The Nats offense was a question mark going into the season with him, and they are struggling to score (25th in runs and 29th in batting average) without him. The loss of Zimmerman is just adding injury to insult.

"We see one of the best hitters in baseball that's not going to be able to play for us for six weeks,"General Manager Mike Rizzo said. "We're scratching for runs and trying to win games. The guys that we've put out at third base have been terrific defensively and we've struggled to score runs. When you take your best hitter out of the lineup, you're going to have to find different ways to score runs. Nobody's going to feel sorry for us."

Clearly, the Nationals' players are not feeling sorry for themselves, taking two of three over the Giants this weekend and hanging around the .500 mark throught the first month of the season. Now, they will need to hang on a little bitlonger.