After two games away from the Verizon Center, the reeling WashingtonMystics return home for a Friday night contestagainst the New York Liberty.Here is what you to know about the Eastern Conference tiltand what the Mystics are up against as they try to snap a three-game losing streak.The matchup: The Mystics (1-4) host the Liberty (2-5), winners of two straight, but losers of fiveconsecutive games in Washington. New York opened with a franchise-record five-game losing streak and had some WNBA observers labeling them the league's worst team before finding a winning formula. However, both of those victories came at home. Beyond simply being winless on the road, the Liberty lost all three games by an average of 21.3 points. New York's issues have been on the defensive end as opponents score 83 points per game, 10 more than the Washington is allowing. If there is such a thing as a must win game this early in the season, this might be it for the Mystics. After the Liberty, they face the 4-1 Indiana Fever before heading out west for a brutalthree-game road swing.Last time out: On the positive side, Washington matched a franchise record for points in a single quarter, scoring 36 in the fourth against with Connecticut. But...the Mystics allowed the Sun to pile up 35 points over those final 10 minutes in a 94-86 loss. The Mystics cut down on their turnovers and used the extra possessions to feed All-Star forward Crystal Langhorne, who finished with a season-high 25 points. Once again, the Sun did the visitors one better as center Tina Charles dropped in 30 points.Jasmine Thomas:Mystics coach has been searching for an answer at point guard throughout the season - well, really, since Lindsay Harding pushed for a trade after the 2010 campaign. Perhaps a new plan of attack can be centered around the hot shooting Thomas, It's at least worth consideration afterlast year's first round pick-in 16 minutes - tallied 17 points, two assists and three steals. Over the last two games, Thomas is shooting a stellar 75 percent (8 of 12) from the field.Washington's fourth leading scorer (7.4) on the season despite playing less than 14 minutes per game, the former Oakton High School star is knocking down a team-high 54.5 percent (6 of 11) from beyond the arc. Lacey needs a distributor more than a scorer at the point and Thomas has that in her game; she finished with over 400 assists at Duke. Right now, any consistent production will do. Milestone: Langhorne grabbed five rebounds against the Sun, including number 1,000 of her five-year career. Capping Pondexter: It may not be as simple as saying "stop Cappie Pondexter, stop the Liberty" - but it's a good start. After failing to score 20 points during any of New York's losses, the assertive guard topped that mark in the two victories, averaging 25.5 points. Pondexter, who finished sixth in scoring (17.4) last season, will see plenty of her former Rutgers teammate Matee Ajavon on the defensive end.
With the Capitals’ 2015-16 season now in the rearview mirror, we continue with our numerical player-by-player roster analysis.
No. 25 Jason Chimera
Age: 37 (turns 38 on May 2, 2017)
Penalty minutes: 22
Time on ice: 14:03
Playoff stats: 12 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, minus-1, 12 PIM, 13:00
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent (2015-16 salary: $2 million)
If Jason Chimera set out this season to prove his age is just a number, he accomplished his goal by matching his career high in goals (20) and maintaining his reputation as the faster skater on the Capitals.
The question facing general manager Brian MacLellan is whether the Caps can afford to bring the 37-year-old left wing back to Washington for an eighth season.
If it was up to his teammates, they should.
RELATED: PRESSING OFFSEASON QUESTIONS FACING THE CAPITALS
“He’s great,” Caps center Nicklas Backstrom said. “He’s great to have in the locker room, as well. He’s just an all-around great guy. He’s a funny guy, he jokes around and stuff like that. You need that in the locker room.”
Chimera is a bundle of energy on and off the ice, cracking jokes, singing songs and screaming over interviews in the Caps’ locker room. He’s also a physical anomaly, possessing the kind of speed and physicality that defines third-line wingers in today’s NHL.
“He's a freak,” said Caps center Jay Beagle, who played alongside Chimera much of this season. “He's going to play for, I think, a lot more years. He's still one of the fastest guys in the league. He's got those young legs that never seem to slow down and he’s a great guy in the locker room, a great guy to be around.
“He's going to play a lot of years. It's up to management and him, but I would love to see him back and I would love to play with him again.”
Chimera came into this season with a lot to prove. He was coming off a seven-goal, 12-assist season and had committed 51 minutes in penalties in Barry Trotz’s first year behind the bench, many of them due to a lack of discipline. Chimera cut his penalties in half (22) and more than doubled his offensive output with 40 points.
“I think the understanding with Trotzy was a little better this year,” Chimera said. “I played some power play with Kuzy (Evgeny Kuznetsov) and that didn’t hurt, for sure (4 power-play goals, 5 power-play assists). He’s one of the most skilled guys in the league and I got some easy tap-in goals with him. I played with Beags most of the year and you play with (Tom Wilson) and (Marcus Johansson) came in and played and we had a really good, solid third line all year. It was a fun year. Our team probably had the most fun I’ve ever had in my whole life of playing. It was a fun year to be a part of, right from the coaches all out. It was a good year in that aspect, for sure.”
On the ice, Chimera possesses many of the qualities the Caps seem to be seeking this offseason. Thanks to a grueling offseason workout program, his speed has remained intact and his durability is nearly unmatched. He’s missed just seven games in his last six seasons with the Caps. And he believes he has many more.
“I’m not putting a number on it,” Chimera said. “I think you’ll know the writing’s on the wall when you’re kind of walking out the door. I haven’t seen any writing yet, so hopefully I don’t see any in the near future. I want to play as long as I can. I won’t put a number on it. I know a lot of players in the past I’ve talked to said, ‘Don’t let go unless you’re ready to let go’ because a lot of guys said there’s nothing like it other than playing.
“I’ll play as long as I can, whatever role I have to. It’s one of those things, I might not score as much as a (Jaromir) Jagr at his age (44), but you hopefully keep going to his age. This game’s treated me really well. Hopefully, it treats me really well moving forward. You don’t see stopping anytime soon.”
After the season MacLellan identified improving the Capitals’ bottom six forwards as his top priority in the off-season, adding that he will see how much money is needed to re-sign his restricted free agents before deciding on whether to re-sign Chimera.
Right now, the Caps have roughly $58.5 million committed to next year’s salary cap, which MacLellan expects to be around $73 million.
If $9 million is needed to re-sign RFAs Marcus Johansson, Tom Wilson, Michael Latta and Dmitry Orlov, the Caps would have roughly $5.5 million in cap space for two players.
Chimera likely will be seeking a deal no less than two years and $4 million. Despite seeing good friends Joel Ward, Mike Green and Eric Fehr depart for greener pastures last summer (Ward and Fehr are playing for the Stanley Cup), Chimera believes he’ll be back in a Caps jersey next season.
“I still think I’m going to be back,” Chimera said. “I’m not confident in anything. In this game, I think you’re not guaranteed anything to be back. I want to be back. You don’t think of playing anywhere else. You know the business side of it, but I still don’t think I’m going to play anywhere else, but we’ll see what happens, right?”
It is that uncertainty that made the Caps’ first-round playoff loss to the Penguins that much more painful for Chimera, who has seen the Caps get to the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, only to be knocked out in the first or second round.
Last year, Chimera continued his reputation as a playoff performer with three goals and four assists in 14 playoff games. This year he struggled, netting one goal and one assist and taking 12 minutes in penalties in 12 games.
“This loss was maybe a little more, not taxing, but I guess you don’t know what’s going to go on next year,” Chimera said. “You don’t know if you’re going to be with these guys. You want to be with the guys, but you understand the business side of it, too. That’s why I was disappointed the way it ended, for sure, because you want to win with these guys and you don’t know if you’ll have that chance. Maybe it’ll all work out, but it’s one of those things that it’s a business, and I realize that, too.
“You always leave with that sting in your mouth that you didn’t win. And I think the disappointment of that overshadows a good season sometimes. You overlook a lot of things in this game because a lot of times you end on a bad note. Twenty-nine teams end on a bad note. It was tough to take, for sure, the playoffs. I’m proud of the season I had for sure, but you want to get more out of the playoffs. That was our goal, and that’s what’s disappointing out of it.”
Will the Ravens’ increased speed at wide receiver force opponents to defend them differently?
The Ravens hope so.
They were without Breshad Perriman (knee injury) all of last season, and without Steve Smith Sr. (Achilles injury) the final two months.
That gave opponents license to put a safety closer to the line of scrimmage, and to crowd Ravens receivers with press coverage – unafraid that the Ravens could throw deep with success.
However, Perriman is healthy again, and the Ravens added two speed receivers by signing Mike Wallace during free agency and drafting Chris Moore in the fourth round.
The Ravens believe that speed will lead to more big plays, help their running game, and give Smith and other receivers more operating room.
“We’ve had years when we couldn’t back anybody up,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “The ability to back people up, it’s huge – to quote a famous politician not to be named here. It’s hard for me to see the speed all of the time in some of these drills. I’m like,`How fast are they really moving?’ Then I go ask the (defensive backs) and they say, ‘They’re moving really fast.’ And that makes me feel good about it.”
Perriman averaged 19.5 yards per catch at Central Florida, Moore averaged 19.3 yards per catch at Cincinnati, and Wallace has averaged 15.2 yards per catch over a seven-year NFL career.
The Ravens believe their speed will make opponents think twice about crowding the line of scrimmage. And when opponents do crowd the line of scrimmage, the Ravens plan to make them pay with big plays.
The predraft workouts for the Wizards, who don't have a pick June 23, begin Wednesday with five players scheduled to participate, including one they've already interviewed and two with local ties.
A.J. English (Iona), Nick Faust (Maryland/Long Beach State), Jalen Reynolds (Xavier), Jameel Warney (Stonybrook) and Kevin Larsen (George Washington) constitute the first wave at Verizon Center, CSNmidatlantic.com has confirmed.
Unlike in the past, however, the sessions are scheduled to be closed because they're are technically free-agent workouts. Several more workouts will follow over the next few weeks.
Because players tend to fall in and out for various reasons, all workout lists like this are subject to change.
It's not clear if former Duke and Maryland guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who has been in the discussion to work out for the Wizards, will attend at some point.
English, a 6-4 senior guard, was one of 19 prospects the Wizards interviewed at the NBA Combine in Chicago earlier this month.
Faust, a 6-6 guard from Baltimore, played three seasons for the Terps before transferring out West, sitting out a year and averaging 17.4 points in 2015-16.
Larson is a 6-10 big from Denmark who helped lead the Colonials to the NIT championship by averaging 15.8 points per game. Reynolds is a 6-10 big who averaged 9.6 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Musketeers.
Warney is a 6-8 forward who is the Seawolves' all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks, games played and led Stony Brook to the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2016.
Thursday, the Wizards are scheduled to work out Fred VanVleet (Wichita State), Prince Ibeh (Texas) and Baltimore native Damion Lee (Louisville).
RELATED: 2016 NBA MOCK DRAFT 1.0