The matchup: The Mystics (2-7) finish their three-game road trip with a stop Sunday in Seattle (7 p.m. ET), a locale that has hardly been accommodating over the years, but where they now hope to salvage their left coast excursion. After being routed in Los Angeles, Washington blew a late lead at Phoenix on Wednesday for its second straight loss and sixth in seven games. Now the Mystics look to snap a six-game skidon the Storms home court, a place they have not emerged victorious from since2005. Their timing is not ideal, as the Storm (4-7) have found their way with three straight victories and alsoswept the 2011 season series. The home-and home scenario concludes Tuesday when the two sides meet at the Verizon Center.Last time out: Behind another sterling interior effort from center Michelle Snow and Monique Curries bench scoring, the Mystics led the shorthanded Mercury 74-69 with 2:26 remaining. It did not go so well from there, outscored 11-3 the rest of the way for an 80-77 loss. Phoenixs eight active players struggled from distance throughout, but drilled consecutive 3-pointers in the closing stretch and made their free throws, something the Mystics failed to accomplish.One, we left them Mercury open for two wide-open threes, and really down the stretch we missed our free throws, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said after he squad shot 46.7 percent (7 of 15) from the foul line. If we hadnt missed our free throws, it wouldnt have been the game. I think that those two things really hurt us down the stretch...we just needed to close it out and we didnt.Still Snow-ing: Starting her fourth straight game, Snow led the Mystics with 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. The 10-year veteran, one of the several new players added this offseason, has scored 36 points in her last two games after scoring 32 over the first seven games. The 6-foot-5 glass-eating center has averaged 10 rebounds per game during the four-game starting stretch.Mo Currie required: A career 37-percent shooter from beyond the arc, Currie entered Phoenix having missed all nine of her 3-point attempts over her previous four games.Perhapstaking to her bench role,Currie got hot from deep and elsewhere in the Valley of the Sun, sinking 3 of 5 from long range and 8 of 16 overall. We just need to win, so whatever I can bring to the table, or what anyone can bring to the table, were willing to do it and trying to do it, Currie said of adjusting to not being in the starting lineup. Were just trying to get the best out of everyone. Storm clouds lifting: Without all-everything center Lauren Jackson the Aussie is preparing for the upcoming summer Olympics the Storm labored early in the season with losses in six of seven games. Now, Seattles remaining stars are directing a charge back up the standings, led by point guard Sue Bird (12.4 points, 5.3 assists). Former Mystics Katie Smith (7.5 points) and Victoria Dunlap are also part of the Storms roster. Smith scored 13 points and knocked down three 3-pointers in Friday's 92-76 win over San Antonio. Dunlap, part of the trade that brought Crystal Robinson to Washington, could missSunday's game while recovering from a concussion.
The quest for the Stanley Cup doesn't begin on the ice, but during the offseason as general managers build their teams for the upcoming campaign. The Caps have made a number of moves this summer to try to make their team better and get over the playoff hump.
Let's break down and grade each move the team made this offseason to help figure out whether it was the right move for the team.
Today's move: Signing Brett Connolly
The Caps entered free agency with very few needs, but one need they did have was for a right wing for the fourth line who could cycle in and out of the lineup.
While teams threw their money around as free agency began, the Caps were very quiet, looking for need and potential. They found it in the form of Brett Connolly.
Selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Connolly was a the sixth overall pick of the 2010 draft. Despite some good early play in his professional career, he was soon overshadowed by the Lightning’s impressive crop of young talent. Injuries further hampered him in Tampa and eventually in Boston.
Despite his struggles, the Caps see the same potential in him that led him to be drafted so high.
“He's got good size, he skates well, he's got good hands, he shoots the puck well, he just hasn't seemed to put it together yet consistently,” MacLellan said.
MacLellan sees more from Tom Wilson going forward which will mean a promotion from the fourth line to the third. That leaves a spot open on the fourth which Connolly will presumably fill. The Caps, however, are prepared to let his play determine that.
“He could play anywhere,” MacLellan said. “I mean it's up to him. We told him, you've got to come in and you've got to earn it. You've got to show the coaches. You've got to gain some respect and we'll see where you fit in. I mean he could play third line, fourth line, it's up to him.”
Whenever a team decides to walk away from a player player, it’s important to replace him with something better. Otherwise, what was the point? The Caps chose not to re-sign Michael Latta, but instead brought in a player with a much higher ceiling in Connolly.
This move is low-risk, high-reward. Seriously, where is the downside here? Connolly is signed for one year at $850,000. Despite his struggles, he is only 24 and when healthy has demonstrated he still has plenty of skill. If he does play well, he becomes a restricted agent at the end of the season and the Caps can easily retain his rights.
If he continues to fail to live up to that potential, it’s not as if the Caps will have a major hole on their top line. The Caps can plug in Stanislav Galiev or any of the several prospects waiting for their shot at the NHL and not miss a beat. Then they can cut Connolly loose at the end of the season.
Let’s be realistic here. Sometimes when fans see where a player was drafted, it’s easy to begin thinking that he will suddenly emerge as that top-tier player. It’s doubtful that Connolly is going to suddenly emerge as a top line winger, but he has the potential to become a solid player.
If he doesn’t, well it was worth a shot.
Nationals (58-42) vs. Indians (57-41) at Progressive Field
After losing in walk-off fashion in the opener on Tuesday night, the Nats have a quick turnaround with a 12:10 p.m. start on Wednesday against the Indians.
On the mound will be Stephen Strasburg (13-1, 2.83), who is hoping to bounce back from his worst game of the season. He gave up six earned runs on seven hits and two homers in six innings against the Dodgers last week.
Pitching for Cleveland will be right-hander Carlos Carrasco (7-3, 2.31). He pitched six shutout innings with just one hit allowed against the Royals his last time out.
The Nats are rolling with the same lineup as Tuesday night with Trea Turner in center field and Bryce Harper batting second.
First pitch: 12:10 p.m.
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Stephen Strasburg vs. Indians - Carlos Carrasco
CF Trea Turner
RF Bryce Harper
2B Daniel Murphy
C Wilson Ramos
DH Jayson Werth
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
LF Ben Revere
(RHP Stephen Strasburg)
1B Carlos Santana
2B Jason Kipnis
SS Francisco Lindor
DH Mike Napoli
3B Jose Ramirez
RF Lonnie Chisenhall
LF Rajai Davis
CF Tyler Naquin
C Chris Gimenez
(RHP Carlos Carrasco)
The funeral for Zema Williams, the Redskins superfan better known to thousands as Chief Zee, is being held on Wednesday in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Some photos from the services show that plenty of the team's supporters are attending in order to say goodbye to one of its most dedicated, but another touching picture proves at least one player is thinking of Williams, too.
Santana Moss, who wore the Burgundy and Gold for a decade and posted this tribute to Williams after he died last week, sent along a bouquet of flowers, a photo and a message to the church where the funeral is being held, all of which ended up next to the icon's casket:
This bouquet of flowers next to Chief Zee's casket sent by former Redskins player Santana Moss. pic.twitter.com/suGWDupT95— John Gonzalez (@ABC7John) July 27, 2016
"Rest in paradise Chief Zee," the note reads. "With Love, Santana Moss & Family." The accompanying picture is from the famous Redskins-Cowboys game in 2005, where Moss caught two long touchdowns in the fourth quarter to stun Dallas in their own stadium.