Cherry Blossoms Begin to Emerge

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Cherry Blossoms Begin to Emerge

Spots of pink and white are finally decorating the Tidal Basin -- and soon, it'll be all pink as the cherry blossoms will likely reach peak bloom later this week.

While many cherry trees are already blooming, others haven't. Even on the same branch, some buds are emerging while others haven't popped yet.

On Tuesday, the National Park Service will be looking at trees to pinpoint exact peak, which is when 70 percent of the Yoshino Cherry treets along the Tidal Basin have bloomed.

Right now, the trees are in the NPS calls the puffy white stage. It's the last phase before peak bloom, and means most of the cherry blossoms will be in bloom in 4-6 days, likely this weekend.

That's picture perfect timing, just in time for some of the National Cherry Blossom Festival's key events.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival are both set for Saturday, April 12.

The parade runs 10 a.m. to noon. Grandstand seating is $20, but it's free to watch while standing along the parade route. The street festival will happen 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission $8 for ages 13 and up; kids are free.

When the peak bloom forecast was issued several weeks ago, many were skeptical of the blossoms' timing after a long, harsh winter.

But this year isn't so far off last year, when peak bloom was pushed back several times and finally occurred April 9 after a chilly spring.

"Unfortunately, we are leaving today, but we're happy to have seen this," said tourist Lorraine Johnson on Tuesday.

Visitors are satisfied, and despite the wait, photographers are still able to snap the ideal shot.

"They look very nice," Langlois said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Caps look to last year's loss to Rangers for confidence against Penguins

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Caps look to last year's loss to Rangers for confidence against Penguins

Down 3-1 in their best-of-seven series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Caps know they have a tough hill to climb if they hope to avoid another second round exit. Not many teams have been able to overcome a 3-1 deficit, but the Caps are finding confidence from an unexpected source: last year's playoffs.

Not only did the Capitals hold a 3-1 series lead over the New York Rangers, they came within 1:41 of winning the series before the Rangers tied Game 5 and eventually stunned the Caps in seven games.

"We're in a reverse situation last year where we, Game 5, we had a team that basically pretty well down and out," head coach Barry Trotz said, "and they threw a puck to the net and it hits one of our defenseman, goes in and they end up winning in overtime and that sort of changed it."

Now that the Caps find themselves on the other end of the 3-1 deficit, they are drawing on that experience as a guide for how to climb back against the Penguins.

"It's a very similar situation," Braden Holtby said. "I think we're up 3-1 last year against the Rangers and it could have been 3-1 the other way. Same as this year. It could be 3-1 in our favor pretty easily. A couple breaks go the other way so in realizing that, you can take a page out of what the Rangers did and stuck with what they were doing last year."

RELATED: TROTZ LOOKS TO SPARK OFFENSE BY SWITCHING UP OFFENSIVE LINES

It's a lesson Washington has struggled with over its history.

In the Bruce Boudreau era when the Caps developed a reputation as a team that could not win when it mattered, the players routinely abandoned the gameplan whenever they began to struggle. That's a mistake Trotz is determined to prevent the Caps from repeating again.

"We have to find another way to not really reinvent the game but just execute better, be a little sharper," Trotz said. "We get a chance to score, we've got to bury our chances. Those are the things that matter and then we've got to stay with it."

With their win in Game 5, the Rangers stole the momentum and suddenly the Caps began to feel the pressure in a series that had seemed well in hand. The lesson is clear: one win is all it takes to change a series.

"It can spiral pretty quick," Tom Wilson said. "When your'e the team that's up 3-1, you lose the game tomrrow night, it's 3-2 then we steal another one. It's not like we're down 8-1 in the series. ... It's the first team to four and they're only at three."

"We've got to have a belief that you win one, win the first period, keep going and if you win one, then things can change," Trotz said. "I mean we were prime candidates to see it first hand in the Rangers series last year so, hopefully all we can do is look at the game in front of us and go from there."

MORE CAPITALS: TROTZ: CAPS NEED MORE PRODUCTION FROM 'CERTAIN GUYS'

Ravens assign jersey numbers, Ronnie Stanley to wear No. 79

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Ravens assign jersey numbers, Ronnie Stanley to wear No. 79

OWINGS MILLS -- For football jersey lovers, the Ravens have assigned numbers to their 11 draft picks. They are as follows:

6 – WR Keenan Reynolds

43 – CB Tavon Young

48 – RB Kenneth Dixon

49 – CB Maurice Canady

51 – OLB Kamalei Correa

72 – OT Alex Lewis

79 – OT Ronnie Stanley

81 – WR Chris Moore

91 – OLB Matt Judon

92 – DE Bronson Kaufusi

Correa will be wearing the number worn by former Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith, who signed with the Buccaneers this offseason. Kaufusi will wear the number once worn by former Ravens Pro Bowl tackle Haloti Ngata.

Four more draft picks sign with Ravens, raising total to six

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Four more draft picks sign with Ravens, raising total to six

OWINGS MILLS -- The Ravens announced the signing of four more draft picks Friday -- OLB Kamalei Correa, DT Willie Henry, OT Alex Lewis, and WR Chris Moore.

That meant six of the 11 Ravens’ 11 draft picks were under contract at the start of Friday’s two-day rookie minicamp. OLB Matt Judon and RB Kenneth Dixon had already signed.

Correa was drafted in the second round, the first of three players the Ravens targeted to improve their pass rush. Lewis, a fourth-rounder, is expected to compete for a backup spot at either tackle position. Moore is a deep threat wide receiver who has a chance to earn immediate playing time. Henry is a run-stopping defensive lineman who has a chance to be part of the defensive tackle rotation.

First-round pick, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, still had not signed as of early Friday afternoon. However, first-round signings traditionally take the longest.

The Ravens also announced the signing of 11 undrafted free agents:

G Jarell Broxton, Baylor

DT Travon Coley, Florida Atlantic

C Anthony Fabiano, Harvard

ILB  Cavellis Luckett, Middle Tennessee St.  

K Will Lutz, Georgia St.

OT Stephane Nembot, Colorado

OLB Victor Ochi, Stony Brook

OLB Mario Ojemudia, Michigan

ILB Patrick Onwuasor, Portland St.

DT Michael Pierce, Samford

C Matt Skura, Duke