Cherry Blossom Festivities Begin This Weekend


Cherry Blossom Festivities Begin This Weekend

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is opening with a weekend of family activities at the National Building Museum.

The free family days event runs Saturday and Sunday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The museum will offer crafts and activities focused on architecture, the cherry trees and Japanese arts.

An opening ceremony for the National Cherry Blossom Festival is planned for Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Warner Theatre. The festival runs for five weeks through April 27.

The National Park Service says it expects the trees will be in full bloom between April 3 and April 6. Officials say the cold weather slowed the blossoms' growth.

The cherry blossoms draw about 1 million visitors each spring. This year marks the 101st anniversary of the gift of trees from Japan.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Positive signs surround Capitals' Game 1 win over Penguins


Positive signs surround Capitals' Game 1 win over Penguins

News, notes and quotes from the Capitals’ hair-raising, breath-taking 4-3 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night at Verizon Center (stick tap to research analyst Rich Goldberg):

Positive sign: Per Elias Sports Bureau, teams that win Game 1 in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series hold an all-time series record of 445-200 (69 percent), including a perfect 8-0 in Round 1 this spring.

“Game 1 is really important, but it’s amazing how, opposed to 10 years ago, how well road teams are doing,” Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “I think no matter what building you’re playing in, it’s kind of an even playing field.”

Don’t count your chickens: In their eight previous playoff meetings with the Penguins the Caps have won Game 1 seven times but are 1-6 in those series.

Familiar territory: Since 2001, the Penguins are 0-7 when starting a playoff series on the road.

Powerless: Despite leading the NHL with eight power-play goals in Rounds 1, the Caps (0-for-4) and Pens (0-for-2) were held silent in Game 1. It marked the first time this post-season the Pens were held without a power play goal.

The Caps are now 0-for-14 since Game 3 against Philadelphia. They started that series 8-for-17 in the first three games.

By the numbers: The Caps improved to 38-2-2 this season when scoring first; 23-0-1 record when leading after the first; and 29-7-8 in one-goal goal games.

OT history: The Capitals are now 24-30 in playoff overtimes, 11-13 on home ice. In the Alex Ovechkin era they are 10-13 in playoff OTs, 5-6 at home.

Trickster: T.J. Oshie became the third player in Caps history to record a playoff hat trick with an overtime goal, joining Nicklas Backstrom (Game 2, 2010 conference quarterfinal against Montreal) and Dino Ciccarelli (Game 1, 1990 division semifinal against New Jersey).

Oshie now has six goals and one assist in six games against the Penguins this season.

Leave it to Ovi: Alex Ovechkin on T.J. Oshie's wraparound goal: "Great effort by Osh. I think in overtime every shot is a good shot." 

Hitman: Alex Ovechkin led the Caps with seven hits and his 35 hits this postseason ranks fourth in the NHL. 

Bura-cuda: Andre Burakovsky now has three goals and two assists this season against Pittsburgh.

At the top: Goalie Braden Holtby became the Caps’ winningest goalie in playoff history with his 21st win.

Five stats to know about the Capitals' Game 1 win over the Penguins


Five stats to know about the Capitals' Game 1 win over the Penguins


Here are five stats that help put the Capitals' Game 1 win over the Penguins in perspective for fans: 

Streak over:  T.J. Oshie entered Game 1 with a 0-5 record when scoring a goal in the playoffs. It took a hat trick to make that record 1-5. Oshie has 6 goals in 6 games (regular season/playoffs) against the Penguins this season.

Nothing new: The Penguins may have a 7-1 playoff series record against the Capitals, but they cannot win Game 1. Pittsburgh is 1-8 in the opening game of a postseason series against Washington. The Penguins have lost 7 straight Game 1 road games against all teams since 2001.

Hit parade: Alex Ovechkin is known for his goal scoring, but it’s his force and might swaying the way for the Caps. Ovechkin led the team with 7 hits in Game 1. He’s first on the Capitals with 35 hits this postseason and ranks 4th highest in the NHL.

Back to 0: Here are the Penguins power play goal totals against the Rangers last round: 1, 2, 1, 3 and 1. Against the Capitals it was 0. Thursday marked the first time in 6 playoff games the Penguins did not score a power play goal, going 0 for 2.

Two-ray! We had seen this before. Braden Holtby starts, allows 2 goals in a playoff game, Capitals lose. Thursday though, marked the first time in the last 14 games Braden Holtby allowed at least 2 goals in a playoff start and Washington won the matchup.

Why did the Redskins trade down one spot in the first round?


Why did the Redskins trade down one spot in the first round?

With many anticipating the possibility of a big first-round move by the Redskins, they ended up making literally the smallest move you can possibly make.

While they were on the clock with the 21st pick in the draft the Redskins made a deal to move back one spot. The Texans moved up to pick No. 21 and gave the Redskins their first-round pick, No. 22, and their 2017 sixth-round pick.

The Texans took Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller with the 21st pick and the Redskins took wide receiver Josh Doctson out of TCU. Both teams seemed to be happy with their picks. So the question is, why did they make the trade? The reasons for making big moves up and down the board are usually obvious; one team wants a particular player, the other team is willing to stockpile some additional picks for moving down. But a one-slot move?

For their part, the Texans said that did not want to risk losing out on Fuller.

"He was a guy that we felt strongly about," Texans GM Rick Smith told the Houston media on Thursday night. "We didn’t want to take a chance on not getting him. We were aggressive. We went and made the move.”

The Redskins’ official explanation did reveal much.

“There was a lot of phone calls being made and Bruce and Scot were talking to a lot of different teams and a lot of different options,” said head coach Jay Gruden. “That’s the best one that we felt was available to us.”

If this was indeed the best deal on the table then the other possibilities must have been pretty lopsided in favor of the other team. One theory floated in the media room at Redskins Park last night was that the Redskins were trying to buy more time to make a larger deal (perhaps with the Cowboys, who said they tried to move up to get quarterback Paxton Lynch). When the deal fell through, this theory goes, they settled on Doctson.

One thing is certain—the Redskins had to be willing to risk losing Doctson to the Texans. If he was far and away the best player on their board, why would they risk losing him for a sixth-round pick next year.

The deal does make the Redskins’ 2017 draft slate nearly whole again. Last summer they traded their fifth-round pick to the 49ers in exchange for tight end Derek Carrier. Now they are back up to seven picks with none in the fifth and two in the sixth.