Nationals starter Ross Detwiler is consumed with baseball these days, starting every fifth day for a team that plays almost every night. But the Missouri-native does his best to catch NHL playoff games, following both his hometown Blues and the Washington Capitals as they continue their first round matchups.
The Nats' schedule has prevented Detwiler from attending any of the Caps games against the Rangers. He has, however, been keeping up on television and with highlights, as evidenced by his informed take on the 2-2 series as it stands.
"Everybody has won all the home games. When you have home ice advantage, at least that's looking up," he said. "It's tough losing two games in a row and having to right the ship. But the beginning of the series, that's what the Rangers did so there's no reason the Caps can't do it to."
Detwiler has been a hockey fan his whole life and knows what Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist brings to the table. The Nats pitcher says the key to breaking through is the Caps getting back to basics on their special teams.
"He's always been one of the best in the league and they had success against him at home. I think as soon as they get their power play going they are going to be fine. It seems like they had the best one in the regular season," he said.
"It's gonna start going, they got too many good guys out there, too much skill on the ice for it to fizzle the whole time. Maybe this can be a break through."
Detwiler has been to Caps practices at Kettler Iceplex in Ballston and has attended games as well. He knows some of the players including Karl Alzner and Steve Oleksy who played college baseball. Detwiler is perhaps closest with Matt Hendricks though after joining him on a USO to military bases in four countries over the offseason.
Hendricks invited Detwiler to the Capitals' game on April 13 against the Lightning as the Nats played an early afternoon game against the Braves in D.C. Afterwards they met up and Hendricks gave him a signed pair of gloves. Detwiler has had the gloves displayed in his locker all season and now, several weeks later, has a 2013 Caps playoff towel hanging up as well.
Though Detwiler hasn't been able to catch a postseason game yet - the towel was a gift from a Nats employee - he knows what the team's home ice advantage can be like. The Capitals pack the house every night and can provide a unique stadium experience for opposing teams.
"It's always pretty loud there. It's a different experience than the baseball fans you get because there's 20,000 there in an enclosed place and they're all going crazy. Between every whistle there's someone up dancing up on the screen. It gets pretty loud, they stick behind their team which is the best thing about it."
Detwiler has exchanged bats and other items with Caps players for hockey sticks and gloves. He said he likes talking hockey with them and they love to ask him about baseball. Jason Chimera in particular, he says, knows what he is talking about.
"Chimera actually came out and threw out a first pitch last year," Detwiler said. "He didn't look half bad so if somebody goes down he might be the guy we call."