Stats & Info: Washington Capitals

Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. SPURS FINISH OFF SWEEP: The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Utah Jazz, 87-81, finishing a four-game sweep to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals. This was the Spurs sixth postseason sweep since Tim Duncan was a rookie in the 1997-98 season. According to Elias, that ranks second in the NBA. Only the Los Angeles Lakers, with seven, have more over the last 15 seasons.

2. PAUL & GRIFFIN LEAD CLIPPERS TO VICTORY: The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 101-97 in overtime, to take a 3-1 series lead. According to Elias, the Clippers became the first NBA team to have a pair of players (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin), with at least 25 points and at least seven assists in a playoff game since they did it themselves back on May 14, 2006 (Elton Brand had 30 and eight and Sam Cassell had 28 and nine in a victory over the Phoenix Suns).

3. RANGERS EARN HISTORIC WIN: The New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals, 3-2 in overtime to take a 3-2 series lead. That win would not have been possible if Brad Richards hadn’t tied the game with seven seconds left in regulation. According to Elias, this is the first NHL postseason to have three games feature game-tying goals in the final 15 seconds of regulation. The first-two games in the Phoenix Coyotes - Chicago Blackhawks series also had such goals.

4. COYOTES IN UNCHARTED TERRITORY: The Coyotes defeated the Nashville Predators, 2-1, to win the Western Conference Semifinals in five games. The Coyotes advanced to their first Conference Finals since joining the NHL in 1979-80. Prior to joining the NHL, the franchise (then known as the Winnipeg Jets) reached the WHA (Avco Cup) Finals five times in seven seasons.

5. WEAVER PERFECT 5-0: Jered Weaver allowed one earned run in six innings, as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Minnesota Twins, 8-3. For the third time, Weaver has started a season 5-0. According to Elias, he joined Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Christy Mathewson as the only pitchers to start 5-0 in three seasons.

6. RED HOT ROOKIE: The Boston Red Sox defeated the Kansas City Royals, 11-5 to snap a five-game losing streak. Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks remained hot, going 3 for 5, with two home runs and five RBI. According to Elias, he tied the MLB record for most RBI (nine) in a player’s first four games to start career.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

1. LUCK MAKES IT FOUR: The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft was held on Thursday. The Indianapolis Colts selected Andrew Luck with the first overall pick. Luck is the fourth Stanford QB to be picked first overall in the history of the NFL Draft, joining John Elway (1983), Jim Plunkett (1971) and Bobby Garrett (1954). Stanford is the first school to have four QBs drafted first overall and the first school to have four No. 1 picks at any single position.

2. DEVILS MOVE ON: The New Jersey Devils defeated the Florida Panthers in Game 7, 3-2, in double overtime. It marked the fifth time under the current playoff format (since 1993-94), that a Game 7 had multiple overtime periods. Adam Henrique scored the game-winning goal. According to Elias, he is the second rookie to score an overtime goal in a Game 7. The other was Montreal’s Claude Lemieux in 1986 against the Hartford Whalers.

3. RANGERS MOVE ON: The New York Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators, 2-1, in Game 7. It’s the Blueshirts’ first Game 7 win since the 1994 Stanley Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks. The Rangers now face the seven-seed Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. In their two previous playoff appearances, the Rangers were eliminated each time by the Capitals.

Kevin Durant
4. DURANT WINS TITLE: Thursday marked the final day of the NBA regular season. Kobe Bryant did not play in the Los Angeles Lakers finale against the Sacramento Kings. As a result, Kevin Durant won the 2011-12 NBA scoring title for the third straight season. At the age of 23, Durant is the youngest player to win three straight scoring titles.

5. HUMBER ROUGHED UP: The Boston Red Sox defeated the Chicago White Sox, 10-3. The game marked the first start for White Sox pitcher Philip Humber since his perfect game last Saturday. Humber allowed a career-high nine earned runs in five innings. According to Elias, Humber became the first pitcher in major-league history to allow as many as nine runs in his first appearance after pitching a perfect game.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

1. BRUINS BOUNCED: The Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 in overtime in Game 7. The Bruins lost when facing elimination for the first time in six games. It is the fourth time in the expansion era (since 1967) that both Stanley Cup finalists from the previous season lost in the quarterfinals the following season. FROM ELIAS: It was the first series in Stanley Cup history in which all seven games were decided by a one-goal margin, and only the second series to go to overtime in Game 7 with the two teams having scored the same number of goals in the series. There are two more Game 7s Thursday (Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils at Florida Panthers).

Kobe Bryant
Kevin Durant
2. KOBE OR KD: Kevin Durant scored 32 points in his final regular-season game. Durant averaged 28.03 PPG this season, 0.17 ahead of Kobe Bryant. Bryant needs 38 points against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday to win the scoring title. Bryant has scored 38 points 152 times in regular-season games in his career, including nine against the Kings. Durant or Bryant will become the eighth player in NBA history to win at least three scoring titles.

3. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL SET: Bayern Munich advanced to the UEFA Champions League final (tied 3-3 on aggregate; advanced 3-1 on penalty kicks) over Real Madrid. It was the first time that a UEFA Champions League semifinal went to penalty kicks since 2007. Bayern Munich will face Chelsea on May 19 in Munich. They will be the first club since Roma in 1984 to play the European Cup Final in its home stadium.

4. NBA FUTILITY: The Charlotte Bobcats lost for the 22nd straight time on Wednesday. They end the regular season at home against the New York Knicks on Thursday. If the Bobcats lose, they will set the record for the worst winning percentage in a single-season in NBA history (would finish at .106 win pct), passing the 1972-73 76ers (finished at .110). Charlotte is still looking for its first win since March 17.

5. NFL DRAFT: The first round of the NFL Draft begins Thursday at 8 ET on ESPN. QB Andrew Luck and QB Robert Griffin III are expected to be the first two players taken. It would be the fifth time in the Common Draft Era (since 1967), and first since 1999, that quarterbacks were selected first and second overall.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

1. ANOTHER GAME 7: The New Jersey Devils stayed alive and forced a Game 7 with their 3-2 OT win against the Florida Panthers. Travis Zajac scored the game-winning goal, his third goal of the series. He only had two goals in the regular season. This is already the third playoff series that has gone to seven games, all in the Eastern Conference. The first of those Game 7s will be played Wednesday as the Boston Bruins host the Washington Capitals, with the Bruins looking to win their sixth straight game when facing elimination.

2. YU GOT IT: Yu Darvish pitched 8 1/3 IP and struck out 10 New York Yankees batters in a 2-0 Texas Rangers win. FROM ELIAS: Since divisional play began in 1969, only two other pitchers have hurled at least eight shutout innings with 10-or-more strikeouts in their first career start against the Yankees: Baltimore’s Bob Milacki on September 28, 1988 and Cleveland’s Bartolo Colon on September 21, 1998. Darvish is also the second Japanese-born starting pitcher to start 3-0 in his MLB career.

3. CHELSEA MOVES ON: Chelsea advanced to the UEFA Champions League Final (3-2 on aggregate) over defending champion Barcelona. Barcelona completed almost 1,200 more passes than Chelsea and took 34 more shots. Chelsea only put four shots on goal in the two games, but three of them went in. They will face the winner of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. That semifinal takes place at 2:45 ET and the final takes place on May 19.

4. ALL THAT JAZZ: The Utah Jazz beat the Phoenix Suns to clinch the final playoff spot. It will be the Jazz’s 1st playoff appearance since the 2009-10 season. All 16 playoff spots have been clinched. Other clinchings on Tuesday included the Chicago Bulls winning the East for the second straight season, and the Los Angeles Lakers winning the Pacific division. It is the 32nd division title for the Lakers, the most of any team.

Metta World Peace
World Peace
5. MISSING METTA: Lakers forward Metta World Peace was suspended seven games (including playoffs) for hitting James Harden in the head with an elbow. It is the second time that World Peace has been suspended as a Laker. He was suspended for one game after smacking J.J. Barea in the face during the playoffs last season. World Peace was averaging 14.1 PPG on 47.3 FG pct in April (both season-highs) after averaging just 6.1 PPG from December to March.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

1. LAKERS BEAT THUNDER IN WILD GAME: The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Oklahoma Thunder, 114-106, in double overtime. One of the best games of the season was marred by an incident late in the second quarter. Metta World Peace was ejected after he hit Thunder guard James Harden in the head with his elbow. The Lakers forward has been suspended 13 times, totaling 111 games, in his career.

2. KINGS COMPLETE HUGE UPSET: The Los Angeles Kings shocked the Vancouver Canucks, 2-1, in overtime to win the Western Conference Quarterfinals in five games. According to Elias, Vancouver is the first Presidents' Trophy-winning team to be knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in fewer than six games.

3. YOUNG SEGUIN SAVES THE DAY: The Boston Bruins defeated the Washington Capitals, 4-3, behind the first career playoff OT goal of 20 year-old Tyler Seguin. Each game in this series has been decided by one goal. According to Elias, the Bruins-Capitals series is the first in NHL playoff history in which each of the first six games were decided by a one-goal margin.

4. HAMLIN WINS AT KANSAS: Denny Hamlin won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. It’s Hamlin’s second win of 2012, and 19th of his Cup Series car. The win also marked the 199th Cup win for the #11 car, making it the winningest car in series history.

5. KENNEDY WINS AGAIN: The Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Atlanta Braves, 6-4, as Ian Kennedy improved to 3-0 this season. According to Elias, Kennedy has won his last nine regular-season decisions, tying him with Clayton Kershaw for the second-longest current winning streak in the majors, behind Ivan Nova (15).
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

C.J. Watson
1. WATSON LEADS BULLS: The Chicago Bulls defeated the Miami Heat, 96-86 in overtime. FROM ELIAS: Derrick Rose played 25 minutes and 28 seconds, during which the Bulls were outscored, 59 to 32. But in the 27 minutes and 17 seconds with C.J. Watson on the court, the Bulls outscored Miami, 64-26.

2. OVERTIME HOCKEY: FROM ELIAS: The Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes all won in overtime. It marked the first time since April 18, 2001 that three NHL playoff games went into overtime on the same day.

3. BRUINS DO IT AGAIN: FROM ELIAS: The Bruins' victory against the Washington Capitals marked only the eighth time in NHL playoff history that a team posted a 1-0 overtime win in the first game of a playoff series. It was the second such win by the Bruins, who posted a 1-0 double-overtime victory in Game 1 of a best-of-five series against the Maple Leafs in 1935.

4. WHAT A RELIEF: FROM ELIAS: The Detroit Tigers improved their record to 5-1 with a victory against the Tampa Bay Rays. Reliever Collin Balester was the winning pitcher. The Tigers are the first team in major-league history to win at least five of their first six games in a season without a single victory by a starting pitcher.

5. PUJOLS BACK IN BRONX: The New York Yankees host the Los Angels of Anaheim in their home opener on Friday. Angels 1B Albert Pujols is expected to play his first game in the Bronx since June 2003. In that three-game series, Pujols went 3-10 with a home run as a member of the Cardinals. The Yankees won all three games.

Crosby vs Ovechkin -- a rivalry resumes

December, 1, 2011
Alex Ovechkin
Sidney Crosby
The NHL’s top rivalry resumes Thursday for the first time since the 2011 Winter Classic on New Year’s Day -- Sidney Crosby vs Alex Ovechkin -- when the Pittsburgh Penguins travel to play the Washington Capitals.

Crosby was initially hurt last year in that Winter Classic game when he collided with David Steckel, who no longer plays for Washington.

The Capitals have owned the Penguins in regular-season play of late, going 11-0-2 in the past 13 games regardless of who was playing. However, Crosby has won more head-to-head games against Ovechkin in their careers 12-9.

Ovechkin: 1st overall pick in 2004;
Crosby: 1st overall pick in 2005

Both Ovechkin and Crosby came into the league at the same time in 2005. Ovechkin was the top overall pick in 2004, Crosby the top pick the following year. Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year in 2005-06 with 52 goals and 106 points.

Both have won Art Ross (leading point scorer), Hart (MVP) and Maurice Richard Trophies (leading goal scorer)

They each have won an Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading point scorer, a Hart Trophy as league MVP and the Maurice Richard trophy as the league's leading goal scorer. Of course, Crosby also took home a gold medal in 2010, knocking out Ovechkin and Russia in the quarters.

Penguins def. Capitals in 7 games in 2009 Conference Semis (Crosby: 13 Pts; Ovechkin: 14 Pts)

The two teams met in the playoffs once during a memorable seven-game series in the 2009 Conference Semifinals. Ovechkin had more points than Crosby, but Crosby and the Pens won the series in 7 games and eventually the Stanley Cup.

Crosby: injured in collision with David Steckel in 2011 Winter Classic on New Year’s Day

Thursday is the first time the two have faced off on the ice since New Year's Day at Heinz Field. Crosby collided with David Steckel and finished the game. Crosby would take another hit in the next game and didn't play again until November 21.

Capitals, Canucks make Melrose look good

April, 14, 2011
On SportsCenter, NHL analyst Barry Melrose predicted the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks would meet in the Stanley Cup Final. Both teams got off to a good start Wednesday night, with the Capitals beating the Rangers 2-1 in OT and the Canucks beating the Blackhawks 2-0. On top of that, here’s the case for Melrose being right:

• The Capitals are the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the second straight season. The last team to do that in the East was the New Jersey Devils, who were the top seed in three straight years from 1997-99.

• Washington has revenge on its minds. In each of the Capitals last three postseason appearances, their season has ended at home in Game 7. Last year, Washington was the Presidents' Trophy winners, but lost 2-1 in Game 7 to the Montreal Canadiens.

• The Capitals have taken a more defensive approach, going from the highest-scoring team in last season to 19th this season. Conversely, they were fourth in goals against this year after being 19th last year. The 2.33 goals against per game were their lowest in a single season in team history.

• While Alex Ovechkin was held to career lows in goals (32), power-play goals (7) and shots on goal (367), he’s playing well at the right time. Since March 1, Ovechkin’s 1.38 points per game is the highest among any player in the Eastern Conference. And since 2008, no player has a higher point per game in the postseason than Ovechkin’s 1.48.

• The Canucks have all facets covered. During the regular season, they were first in goals scored (258), first in power-play percentage (24.3), first in goals against (180) and third in penalty killing (86.2).

• Daniel Sedin led the league in points with 104, one year after his brother Henrik did, making them the first set of brothers to win the Art Ross Trophy for the most points in consecutive years.

• The emergence of Ryan Kesler. Everyone knows about his defensive abilities, but he’s taken his offense to the next level. He scored 41 goals, becoming the first American-born player to score at least 40 goals for a Canadian team since Keith Tkachuk scored 50 for the Winnipeg Jets in 1995-96.

Roberto Luongo
• Roberto Luongo is heading to the postseason in the finest form of his career. In 60 games, Luongo posted a 2.11 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. The only goalie to post those numbers in a 60-game season since save percentage became an official stat in 1983-84 was Dominik Hasek in consecutive years of 1997-98 and 1998-99.

But it will be tough. The top seeds in each conference haven’t met for the Cup since 2001 when the Colorado Avalanche beat the New Jersey Devils in seven games. Plus, no first-time President's Trophy winner has gone on to win the Cup.

Melrose says the Canucks will win the Cup. If so, they will be the first Canadian team to take home the Holy Grail since the Canadiens in 1993.