The matchup: The two teams currently on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture also own the longest losing streaks in the WNBA. One of those skids comes to an end when the Washington Mystics travel to face the New York Liberty on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Mystics (5-20) returned from the Olympic break with a slim chance at a playoff berth. Losing four straight and six of seven since has not helped their cause. Washington sits 4.5 games behind Chicago, currently the fourth and final seed, and four back of New York.The road has not been kind to the Mystics, who have dropped 12 of 13 away from the Verizon Center. However the one victory came at New York immediately before the break, a stunning 70-53 win behind 24 points from Crystal Langhorne. Since then, five straight road losses, four by at least 15 points.The Liberty (9-16), losers of three straight, committed 21 turnovers and shot 32 percent from the field in the previous loss to the Mystics. Cappie Pondexter, the WNBAs leading scorer with 20.7 points per game, averaged 23.5 points in two games against the Mystics this season including 25 in a June win at Washington.Last time out: Holding a two-point lead at halftime, the Mystics lost their way during the second half at Atlanta, outscored by the new-look Dream 51-28 over the final two quarter. Despite playing without the leading scorer Angel McCoughtry, suspended for a team violation, Atlanta gave new head coach Fred Williams his first victory by scoring 24 fast-break points compared to Washingtons eight and opening the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run. We turned the ball over which led to some easy baskets for them, Mystics coach and general manager Trudi Lacey said. The other piece of it is we fouled and got them on the free throw line. When you play with that combination it leads to easy points for the other team.Monique Currie scored a team-high 14 points and Crystal Langhorne had 13 for the Mystics, who have lost their last three games by an average of 16.6 points.Consistent Currie: Since returning from the Olympic break, the Mystics small forward has reached double digit points in six of seven games yet did not tally more than 14 points in any game during that span. Washingtons second-leading scorer on the season (10.7) had seven such outings in 18 games before the break, including a season-high 21 points against Connecticut, but also scored in single-digit scoring seven times. Currie is averaging 11.4 points during the second half of the season along with 1.7 steals.
Since drafting Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals have built an entire team around its superstar forwards. As they go, so go the Caps. The 2016 playoffs showed, however, that a strong supporting cast is just as important in a Stanley Cup run than the top playmakers. With that in mind, Wednesday's result was a very good sign for the Caps.
In a 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche, five differently players scored for Washington. None of those five players were Ovechkin or Backstrom. In fact, both Ovechkin and Backstrom were held without a single point in the win.
How rare is that? Washington has scored five or more goals in 20 games this season and either Backstrom or Ovechkin had at least one point in every one of them until Wednesday.
The last time the Caps scored five or more goals in a game and Ovechkin and Backstrom were held without a point was April 23, 2015 in a 5-1 playoff win over the New York Islanders. The last time it happened in the regular season was on Dec. 18, 2014 in a 5-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Getting increased scoring depth was a major focus for the Caps heading into the 2016-17 season after seeing the Pittsburgh Penguins' depth carry them to a Stanley Cup in 2016. Obviously, Washington will need production from its top two playmakers in the postseason in order to be successful, but the fact that they can rely on their depth at times when they need to is a really good sign.
With just six games left to go in the regular season, the Caps are showing they have the depth to make a run in 2017.
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The Stanley Cup is the top prize in hockey and the most beautiful trophy in all of sports.
On Thursday morning, keeper of the cup Phillip Pritchard was in Washington, D.C. with Lord Stanley's Cup for a special tour of the nation's capital as part of a promotion for the NHL on NBC and the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin Wednesday, April 12.
After a quick stop at the CSN office in Bethesda, Md., The Cup made its way downtown to take in some of the sights and sounds from the National Mall and other notable D.C. landmarks.
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The Cup's itinerary for Thursday is as follows:
9:45 a.m. — Lincoln Memorial
11:30 a.m. — White House
Noon — Freedom Plaza
1:30 p.m. — Farragut Square
2:30 p.m. — 7th Street NW
5:00 p.m. — U.S. Capitol, 3rd Street
We understand if you're uneasy about seeing the Stanley Cup in Washington, D.C., before the playoffs begin, but it's hard to pass up a chance to hang out with the greatest trophy in all of sports.