<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Capital Games]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/capital-games http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Wed, 04 May 2016 23:07:19 -0400 Wed, 04 May 2016 23:07:19 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[NBC Play-by-Play Man Doc Emrick Previews Caps-Penguins Game 4]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 18:04:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014603907_1200x675_679439939906.jpg News4 Sports Reporter Carol Maloney chats with NBC hockey lead play-by-play announcer Doc Emrick about Game 4 of the second round series between the Capitals and Penguins. Topics include the suspensions of Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang, the play of Alex Ovechkin, and just how he got the nickname "Doc."]]> <![CDATA[Caps' Hope Offensive Production Translates to More Goals]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 18:08:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Capitals+v+Penguins+GettyImages-527448888.jpg

The Pittsburgh Penguins walked away with a 3-2 win in Game 3, but it cost them their top defenseman.

Kris Letang was suspended one game for a high hit on Marcus Johansson, which means the Penguins will be without their clear-cut best defenseman for Game 4. Letang is averaging just more than 32 minutes per game in the series, almost 10 minutes more than Brian Dumoulin, who is second on the team in time on the ice.

Assuming Olli Maatta doesn’t dress for Game 4 (he missed Game 3 following Brooks Orpik’s high hit in Game 2), the Penguins will be without their top pair on the blue line, giving the Capitals a prime opportunity to even out the series at two games apiece.

As far as series losses go, the Capitals are relatively satisfied with their performance in Game 3. At even-strength play, Washington managed 43 shots on goal, much more than Pittsburgh’s 19. The Capitals’ hope the offensive production continues, but the overall result is different.

“We got a good vibe coming out of this game,” coach Barry Trotz said following the Game 3 loss. “It sort of reminds me a lot of last year against the Islanders (the Capitals fell behind 2-1 in the series), where we weren’t quite where we needed to be, and then, once we got there, it was a good buy in and we were fine. We’re looking forward to Game 4.”

In a series filled with brutal collisions, highlighted and marred by two suspensions, it’s the Capitals that have been powering the way in the hits department. Through three games, the Capitals have 132 total hits, 57 more than the Penguins on the series.

Normally, that’s a bad sign, meaning the Capitals are throwing significantly more hits because they simply don’t have the puck as often as the Penguins. But the Capitals have managed 215 total shot attempts at Penguins’ goaltender Matt Murray, 23 more than the Penguins against Braden Holtby, suggesting the Capitals are possessing the puck fairly often. That means the Capitals know their advantage is their overall physicality. After all, the Capitals’ average player weight is 205 pounds, while the Penguins’ average roster weight is just 197 pounds.

“When we’re hitting and we’re forechecking, we’re playing fast. That’s our best hockey,” Tom Wilson said following yesterday’s morning skate. “When you’re hitting guys, that means you’re in the forechecking and you’re playing hard. We’re not looking to change. We’re looking to play Game 4 exactly the way we played Game 3. Just hard and intense.”

Slight tweaks to the Capitals’ lineup in Tuesday’s practice may come to fruition for Game 4. Dmitry Orlov, who was healthy scratched in Game 2 but filled in for the suspended Brooks Orpik in Game 3, took line rushes with John Carlson, suggesting Orlov may slot in on the second pairing. That means Taylor Chorney and Nate Schmidt will likely be the bottom pair.

The Capitals held an optional skate prior to Wednesday’s game. In Tuesday’s practice, Marcus Johansson did not dress. Trotz explained Johansson would be further evaluated prior to Game 4. Johansson didn’t hit the ice in the morning skate prior to today’s game, but he was seen kicking a soccer ball with T.J. Oshie, Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner.

For the Penguins, Eric Fehr and Bryan Rust did not participate in the morning skate. Head coach Mike Sullivan said both will be game-time decisions. Rust was injured in the first period of Game 3 blocking a shot and did not return. Should one or both not play in Game 4, either Oskar Sundqvist or Tom Sesito will likely take their place.

With Letang’s absence, Justin Schultz is expected to be inserted in the lineup. The Penguins sent the Edmonton Oilers a 2016 third-round draft pick for Schultz in late February. The offensive-minded defenseman has four goals and 14 assists on the year, but just one goal and seven assists as a Penguin. Expect Trevor Daley to take Kris Letang’s spot on the power play, and Daley and Dumoulin will serve as Pittsburgh’s top defensive pair.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Terps Do 'Running Man Challenge' on 'Ellen' Show]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 11:08:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/050316+running+man+challenge.jpg

The University of Maryland basketball players who threw down a "running man challenge" to athletes across the country showed their dancing chops on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" Tuesday.

Terrapins players Jaylen Brantley and Jared Nickens appeared on "Ellen," where they explained what went into the viral dance move.

The Terps began posting Instagram videos last month of them dancing to the 1996 Ghost Town DJ's hit "My Boo." They do the dance — which is a far cry from the running man of the '80s — in the middle of a street, popping out from under a blanket and after getting off a phone call.

Players at Virginia Tech, Villanova University and the University of Miami all accepted the challenge, posting videos of themselves doing the dance. But it turns out two high school students from New Jersey started it.

Jeremiah Hall and Kevin Vincent of Hillside, New Jersey, told DeGeneres they invented the dance when they were bored in a finance class. Later, they saw that Brantley and Nickens did their own version, which went viral.

"We was like, 'What, wait? We made this!" one of the teens said.

Nickens said they were just trying to keep their team happy.

"Basketball is such a grind, especially at the college level, so we just try to keep our teammates loose in the locker room," he said.

DeGeneres presented the high schoolers with an oversized check for $10,000 from Shutterfly to fund their future college tuition. The TV host said NCAA rules barred her from giving the Terps players much, so she presented them with tiny black shorts with their names and team numbers printed on the rear.

The Terps and teens then danced across the stage.

Photo Credit: Michael Rozman / Warner Bros.
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<![CDATA[Vets Take to the Ice With Warriors Hockey Program]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 14:30:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014569304_1200x675_677827651560.jpg Craig Fitzpatrick of the U.S.A Warriors Hockey Program discusses the program, which helps veterans with disabilities or PTSD learn how to play and get equipped for ice hockey.]]> <![CDATA[Diehard Caps Fan Larry King: 'Red Through and Through']]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:48:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/2016-04-29_1643.jpg Larry King has been a passionate Caps fan for years -- and he's not shy about it. Here's what he had to say in advance of Thursday's playoff game against the Penguins.]]> <![CDATA[How the Caps Stack Up Against the Penguins]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:01:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/capsGettyImages-513219946.jpg

For the first time since 2009, the Washington Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs.

Last time the two teams met in the playoffs, Sidney Crosby's Penguins walked away with a Game 7 win over Alex Ovechkin's Capitals.

The big names from that series -- Crosby, Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeni Malkin --  are still with their respective teams. But a slew of new faces strewn about the two teams offers a new, fresh take on the heated rivalry.

Take a look at how each team's units stack up against one another.


In the Capitals' opening series, offensive contributions really only came from four players at 5v5: Backstrom, Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson. The only other two players to record a point at even strength were Jay Beagle and Jason Chimera, and Chimera's single point came from a lucky half-ice shot that slipped between Steve Mason's legs.

That spells trouble for the Capitals' second and third lines, which might see a bit of a shakeup in the Eastern Conference semi-final matchup. Marcus Johansson has been taking shifts as the second line left wing in morning skates, flanking Evgeny Kuznetsov, opposite of Justin Williams. That bumps Andre Burakovsky down on the third line along with Chimera and Mike Richards.

While the second line wasn't directly putting points on the board, they were still creating scoring chances. In fact, Kuznetsov's 15 scoring chances in the opening series was the second-highest on the team, only behind Ovechkin's 18. Williams recorded the third most with 13, and Burakovsky had the fourth most with 11.

That's encouraging, because while they aren't directly scoring goals, they are still generating threatening offense. And considering the large quantity of scoring chances the second-line was contributing, a few are bound to go in the net eventually if they continue pumping out offense.

The forward unit for Pittsburgh is quite clearly its strong suit. It's led by big names Crosby, Malkin, Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist, but it's riddled with a tremendous amount of depth and little-known names.

Conor Sheary, who has played in only 44 regular season games over the course of his entire career, is penciled in as Crosby's left wing on the top line. Sheary is only 5 feet 8, but he's highly aggressive defensively and will look to generate offense off of the rush. Sheary loves to force turnovers and create odd-man rushes, and his speed allows him to break away from the opposition more times than not.

Nick Bonino filled in nicely during Malkin's prolonged absence at the end of the regular season. He closed out the regular season with 13 points in the Penguins' last 10 games, and he continued that production into Pittsburgh's opening series against the New York Rangers, finishing with five points in as many games. He will be joined with Carl Hagelin, who is another player that plays with a lot of speed.

Bryan Rust, Tom Kunhackl, Eric Fehr and Matt Cullen provide a bottom-six scoring punch. Just how deep is the Penguins' forward unit? The bottom-six forwards managed to record six of the Penguins' 21 goals in the opening series.


The shutdown tandem of Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen was rock solid in the opening series. Despite starting the majority of their shifts in the defensive zone against the Flyers' top line, the Capitals were still able to generate more shot attempts than they allowed when those two were on the ice.

Niskanen and Alzner will see heavy doses of Crosby, and if they can even perform at a fraction of what they played at against the Flyers, Crosby is going to have a very difficult time this series.

Brooks Orpik is taking shifts at practice, indicating he may be ready for a return. If he's ready, he'll slot in right along John Carlson, whose three goals were a major reason the Capitals' power play was able to convert on 8 of its 27 opportunities.

With Orpik's return, Nate Schmidt should slot in right alongside Dmitry Orlov, and the two should see favorable matchups that should help the Capitals generate offense.

The Penguins don't have a shutdown tandem quite like the Capitals, but they do have a lot of puck movers on the blue line that will look to jump into the offensive play. Kris Letang will be the most dangerous blueliner in the series, and he will likely be paired with Olli Maata. That's two offensive-minded defensemen paired with one another, and if both jump into the offensive play, it could lead them to be susceptible to an odd-man rush.

Trevor Daley and Ian Cole will serve as the Penguins' second pairing. Daley, whom the Penguins acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks mid-season, is another offensive-minded defenseman, but he's pretty responsible in his own zone.

Ben Lovejoy and Brian Dumoulin will likely be paired against the Capitals' third and fourth lines pretty consistently. Justin Schultz, another offensive-minded defenseman, may see spot starts in the series.


Braden Holtby continued along with his storybook season with another stellar opening series against the Flyers. Holtby's .968 save percentage and his two shutouts leads all goaltenders in the playoffs. That series raised Holtby's career playoff save percentage to .940, and dropped his goals against average to 1.76. In 17 of Holtby's 20 playoff wins, the 26-year-old goaltender has allowed one goal or fewer.

The Penguins' goaltending situation is a bit up in the air.

Normal Penguins mainstay Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't made an appearance in this year's edition of the playoffs due to a concussion sustained late in the season. That injury opened the door for Matt Murray, who then proceeded to get a concussion of his own, causing him to miss the beginning of the playoffs. And that opened the door for Jeff Zatkoff, who allowed six goals in his two playoff appearances. 

Murray recovered from his injury, returned for the last three games of the series and walked away with three wins. He's good to go for this series matchup. But Fleury is still a bit questionable, although he has been practicing.

If it is Murray who ends up going, that's a 21-year-old goaltender with 16 total NHL games on his resume. In those 16 games, Murray has managed to record a .935 save percentage. Murray also played against the Capitals twice already this season. His save percentage in those two games? It was .910, which earned him a win and a loss.

And if it ends up being Fleury in the net, he's had a difficult time over the course of his career in the playoffs. In his 12-year career, Fleury has maintained a .906 save percentage, though in his most recent playoff effort, a first-round exit against the Rangers a year ago, Fleury held strong for a .927 save percentage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dates, Times Announced for Caps-Pens Playoff Games]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 17:17:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/513222078.jpg

The schedule for the second round matchup in the NHL playoffs between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins has been announced.

The Capitals, by virtue of their number one seed in the Eastern Conference, will host the first two games on Thursday, April 28 and Saturday, April 30. Both games are scheduled to start at 8 p.m.

The series moves to the Steel City for the next two games. Game 3 is Monday, May 2 and Game 4 is Wednesday, May 4. Those games also start at 8 p.m.

If necessary, Game 5 is back in Washington on Saturday, May 7, Game 6 would be in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, May 10, and Game 7 returns to D.C. on Thursday, May 12. The start times of those games have not been announced.

<![CDATA[Get Your Caps Tickets for the Semifinals!]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 19:21:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/203*120/523837380.jpg

A small number of Washington Capitals individual game tickets for the 2016 Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals went on sale at 7 p.m. Monday.

The Capitals have home ice advantage for the duration of the playoffs. They take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in semifinals. Games 1 and 2 -- and possibly Games 5 and 7 if the series goes that far -- will be played at the Verizon Center.

The NHL has yet to announce when the games will be played.

You can get your tickets by calling1-800-745-3000, going on WashingtonCaps.com, going to Kettler Capitals Iceplex and at all Ticketmaster outlets.

Additional all-inclusive ticket packages are available at the Capitals Rinkside Club, the Budweiser Brew House and the Draft Ops Fantasy Lounge. The packages include a ticket to the game, a gourmet buffet in the event level of Rinkside Club, unlimited beer, wine and soda, amenities that run one hour prior to puck drop through the second intermission, and a Washington Capitals t-shirt.

Since 2008-2009, the Capitals have had 313 consecutive sellouts at the Verizon Center, including the playoffs.

For more information on tickets, call 202-266-CAPS or visit WashingtonCaps.com.

Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[City Leaders to Break Ground on DC United Stadium]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 12:05:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014485383_1200x675_673036355910.jpg D.C. soccer fans will soon have a new home. City leaders are breaking ground Monday on a new stadium for DC United. News4's Derrick Ward is live at Buzzard Point.]]> <![CDATA[Caps Beat Flyers 1-0, Advance to 2nd Round in Playoffs]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 15:02:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/203*120/523837380.jpg

In a game filled with hitting, phantom penalty calls and great goaltending, the Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 1-0, and advanced to the second round of the NHL Playoffs.

After a scoreless first period where the Caps had a 5-on-3 power play and outshot the Flyers, 12-5, it took until the second period for Washington to beat Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth.

Caps All-Star Alex Ovechkin did a great job fighting off two flyers at the blue line to feed the puck to Marcus Johansson streaking down the middle. Johansson quickly got the puck to Nicklas Backstrom on the right wing, who roofed it past Neuvirth to break the scoreless tie.

It was the first goal given up by Neuvirth in more than 70 shots on goal spread out over the past game plus.

The Flyers peppered Caps goalie Braden Holtby, putting pressure on Washington in the final frame, but Holtby stood tall, preventing any shots from denting the net.

The teams combined for more than 70 hits, each seeking to find a physical advantage over the other.

Refereeing will be talked about in the coming days after Backstrom was tagged for a double minor high sticking penalty after Flyers Ryan White was hit in the nose and blooded by a stick. However, replays showed it was White’s teammate, and not Backstrom, who actually hit White.

In the ensuing 4-minute power play, Caps Matt Niskanen was whistled for hooking. Once again, replays show Niskanen’s stick was on top, not under, the stick of Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

The Capitals were successful in killing a 5-on-3 and 5-on-4 power play from the calls.

The Caps will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.

Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Capitals Lose to Flyers 2-0 in Game 5]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 21:54:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CapitalsGame5.jpg

Michal Neuvirth made a playoff career-high 44 saves and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Washington Capitals 2-0 in Game 5 on Friday night to stay alive in their first-round series.

Neuvirth was dominant, carrying the team on his shoulders and blunting Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals' every charge to cut the series deficit to 3-2 and send it back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Sunday.

Ryan White scored the lone goal for the Flyers against Braden Holtby, with the puck deflectingin off Washington defenseman Taylor Chorney and past the goalie.

Chris VandeVelde added an empty-netter late.

Holtby was barely tested in making 10 saves.

The pressure is now on the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals, who led the series 3-0 before Neuvirth replaced Steve Mason in goal for Philadelphia. Washington lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time all season.

Sidelined by a lower-body injury for three weeks, Neuvirth only played two games since March 4 before making his Flyers playoff debut in Game 4 on Wednesday, stopping 31 of 32 shots against the team that drafted and developed him.

Neuvirth faced the Capitals in relief while with the New York Islanders in the 2015 playoffs, but this was his big opportunity. Some of his former teammates made sure it was a busy one.

The Capitals put on a shooting gallery against Neuvirth almost all game, hemming the Flyers in their zone and forcing him to be sharp. The 28-year-old Czech made a big glove save on Daniel Winnik short-handed attempt early in the second period to keep the Capitals off the board, and then Philadelphia finally gave him some support.

Three seconds after another unsuccessful power play, White was credited with the goal when it banked off Chorney's skate and in. The Flyers fell to 1 for 21 on the power play in the series but remained alive.

Neuvirth was singlehandedly the reason for that as he sprawled to stop Karl Alzner, denied Ovechkin and robbed Marcus Johansson in the second period. In the third he denied Dmitry Orlov on a rush and smothered the puck and handled a slap shot from Ovechkin.

On a Capitals power play midway through the third, Neuvirth made another stand and always looked in control while facing an onslaught. VandeVelde scored an empty-netter with 30.8 seconds left to seal it.

The 33-shot disparity (44 to 11) tied the second-biggest margin by a losing playoff team since 1989-90, according to STATS.

NOTES: Capitals forward T.J. Oshie fought Flyers forward Brayden Schenn off the opening faceoff. The Capitals were unhappy about Schenn slashing Evgeny Kuznetsov in the leg during Game 4, and Schenn respected Oshie for challenging him to a fight. ... Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik missed his second consecutive game with an upper-body injury suffered on a hit by White on Monday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wizards Reach Agreement With Scott Brooks]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 19:41:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/179*120/FINAL+scott+brooks.jpg

The Washington Wizards reached an agreement with a new coach who hopefully will give the team an advantage in the courtship of hometown superstar Kevin Durant.

The organization agreed to a deal in principle with Scott Brooks, former head coach of Durant’s current team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Brooks spent seven seasons as the head man in Oklahoma City before being fired last spring. He guided the team to the NBA finals in 2012 and reached the postseason five times.

The addition of Brooks may also help the team lure Durant back to town when he becomes a free agent this summer.

Brooks will take over for Randy Wittman, who was let go last week after four full seasons as head coach.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Flyers Hold Off Elimination in 2-1 Win Over Caps]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 21:51:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/042016Capitals.jpg

Michal Neuvirth stopped 31 shots in his first start of the playoff series, helping the Philadelphia Flyers stave off a sweep with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

The Capitals still lead the series 3-1 headed into Game 5 Friday night in Washington.

Shayne Gostisbehere and Andrew MacDonald each scored for the Flyers.

Neuvirth was sensational in the third after T.J. Oshie scored early in the period to make it 2-1.

The Capitals still have never swept a best-of-seven playoff series.

The game was marred by a scary hit that saw Flyers center Scott Laughton leave on a stretcher.

Flyers rookie coach Dave Hakstol shuffled the lineup for the win-or-else game. He benched No. 1 goalie Steve Mason for Neuvirth and moved Brayden Schenn to the top line and demoted Jake Voracek.

Mason allowed five power-play goals, including four in a third period, in a 6-1 Game 3 loss. Mason's Game 2 gaffe that allowed Jason Chimera's 101-foot tip-in goal has been replayed on an endless blooper reel in Philly.

Exit Mason, enter Neuvirth.

Neuvirth, who played parts of six seasons in Washington, went 18-8-4 with a 2.27 goal against and a .924 save percentage in 32 games.

``He always was pretty clutch, so I'm sure he's going to be fine tonight,'' Voracek said.

He was clutch, indeed.

Oshie backhanded a rebound off Matt Niskanen's shot from the point just 2:38 into the third.

That was it for the Capitals.

``Every series is about getting the four. We need to get the four,'' coach Barry Trotz said. ``The sooner you get the four, it gives you a couple opportunities to rest guys, heal guys (and get) a little mental break from the pressures of playoff hockey and a little more time to prepare.''

The Flyers seemed like a new team in the first period. Neuvirth stopped all 10 shots and the punchless top line finally broke through to give the Flyers a lead.

Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds _ 1-2 in team points this season _ were each held without a goal or assist through the first three games. They both assisted on Gostisbehere's blast from the point for the 1-0 lead.

Gostisbehere's goal came on the power play, snapping the Flyers' 0 for 13 postseason skid.

Laughton was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a hit into the boards late in the first. Washington defenseman John Carlson tangled with Laughton behind the Capitals' net late. Laughton stumbled and his head and neck slammed into the back boards. He went down in a heap face-first and was immobile for several minutes. There was no penalty on the play.

Laughton talked to medical personnel as they strapped him on the board. The Flyers said he was taken to Jefferson Hospital for precautionary reasons.

Laughton had seven goals and 14 assists in 71 regular-season games this season.

MacDonald's goal on a one-timer in the second period gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead. MacDonald signed a $30 million, six-year contract with the Flyers in 2014, then slumped so badly that the 29-year-old defenseman was demoted this season to the AHL. He played just 28 games for the Flyers and 43 with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Braden Holtby, who had had stopped 91 of 93 shots, started a day after he left practice with an apparent left leg injury after a collision with a teammate.

NOTES: NHL great Wayne Gretzky was at the game, as well as scores of former Flyers stars such as Chris Pronger, Simon Gagne and Kimmo Timonen. They are in Philadelphia for the Ed Snider celebration on Thursday. Snider founded the Flyers and served as their owner until his death on April 11. He died at 83 after a two-year battle with bladder cancer. The event is open to the public and doors open at 11:30 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. ... Capitals D Brooks Orpik sat out because of an upper-body injury.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Terps Throw Down 'Running Man Challenge']]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 14:32:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/042016+jaylen+brantley.jpg

The college basketball season is over but the dance-off has just begun.

University of Maryland men's basketball players Jaylen Brantley and Jared Nickens are being credited with issuing a "running man challenge" that has college basketball players across the country posting videos of their moves.

The dance-off appears to have begun late last month, when Brantley posted an Instagram video of he and Nickens dancing to the 1996 Ghost Town DJ's hit "My Boo."

In the video posted March 31, the Terrapins guards shuffle with balled fists, staying straight-faced the whole time.

"Uh huh, I like that," a man can be heard saying in the video. "That will get you a lot of money. That will get you paid right there!"

Then Brantley threw down the gauntlet on April 13. "Who wanna battle??????" he wrote.

In the following days, the Terps players published videos of them doing the dance -- which is a far cry from the running man of the '80s -- in the middle of a street, after popping out from under a blanket and after getting off a phone call and dancing with a "Fear the Turtle" sign.

Players at Virginia Tech, Villanova University and University of Miami all accepted the challenge.

Brantley and Nickens did not immediately respond to an email about the origin of the move.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Helping Needy Kids Play Sports]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 13:30:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2016-04-20_1310.jpg Max Levitt of Leveling the Playing Field discusses his group's mission to help kids get the sports equipment the wouldn't have access to otherwise. Andre Lee of the Senators' Satchel Paige Little League Team shares how his players have benefited.]]> <![CDATA[Caps Go for Sweep of Flyers]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 21:38:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014433194_1200x675_669476931966.jpg The Capitals hope to close out their series against the Flyers Wednesday night.]]> <![CDATA[Why the Caps' Power Play May Be Clicking Now]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 21:40:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-522356070.jpg

Over the Washington Capitals' last 20 games, the power play unit managed to score just eight goals in 54 power play opportunities. That's a 14.8-percent success rate, which, if spanned over the course of an entire season, would have tied the Winnipeg Jets as the lowest percentage in the NHL.

Flash forward to the Stanley Cup playoffs, where the Capitals' power play unit has been nothing short of dominant. In 17 power play opportunities across three games, Washington has managed to record 8 goals, a 47.1-percent success rate.

It's a huge reason the Capitals have managed to jump out to a 3-0 series lead, the first time the franchise has ever done so, over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Washington has managed to score 12 goals in the series, and in a heated rivalry where penalty minutes can start stacking up quickly, a successful power play unit can be the difference between moving onto the next round and packing up early.

"I think in a series like this, when there are a lot of penalties, it's very important to take care of the special teams," Nicklas Backstrom, who has recorded four power play points, said following Washington's 6-1 Game 3 win. "It's been so important so far. I mean, we are winning games with our special teams, so hopefully we can just keep it going."

And with each game comes more and more extra-man situations that allow the Capitals to flex those offensive muscles. In the third period of Game 3, the Flyers took eight penalties, including three misconduct penalties. The Capitals promptly took advantage of the opportunities, scoring four power play goals in the third period.

"The power play has lots of confidence," head coach Barry Trotz said. "And they keep giving us lots of practice."

That game situation practice has resulted in direct fruition. And considering the extremely evident drastic change in overall success rate in such a quick period of time, whatever the Capitals have been doing over the last few games is working.

"I think we are using different things," Backstrom said. "We are shooting the puck and we are creating traffic in front of the net. We're doing all those things that (make) it hard for a defending team. That's the way we want to do it."

One noticeable "different thing" is the activation of John Carlson on the point. Over the course of those last 20 regular season games, Matt Niskanen was the primary man on the power play point.

In the playoffs, Niskanen was replaced by Carlson, and Carlson began to shoot the puck much more often. As a result, the power play unit added another legitimate scoring threat on the ice.

Prior to Carlson's insertion into the power play, Washington was getting the vast majority of its shots on goal from Alex Ovechkin near the left face-off dot and T.J. Oshie in the slot.

Now, that third scoring threat is forcing the Flyers to keep an eye on the point man at the top of the formation, and this new wrinkle is adding points on the board. Carlson has three power play goals in the three games, and added another two power play assists last night.

One of those came on the Capitals' opening goal of the game, a Carlson shot that tipped by Marcus Johansson in front of the net.

That's another "different thing" in Washington's power play. Johansson, normally situated behind the net along the board, has been sliding up a bit more often directly in front of the net, something he hadn't done as much in the regular season.

That means when the puck is given to Carlson, the Capitals have two players situated directly in front of the opposing goaltender. And that simple repositioning has given Johansson four power play points in the series.

The changes the Capitals have made to their power play unit is working. And in order for the Capitals to maintain that mojo and embark on a deep playoff run, it must continue to succeed.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wanda Pratt: 'The Real MVP']]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 15:49:22 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2016-04-19_1523.jpg Wanda Pratt, mom of NBA star Kevin Durant, visited News4 to discuss about a new movie that celebrates her role as a mother.]]> <![CDATA[Gov. Workers Can Score Nats Ticket Deals for Earth Day]]> Mon, 18 Apr 2016 16:45:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_40433653.jpg

Federal employees can score special ticket packages for Friday's& Nats game in honor of Earth Day.

The U.S. Department of Energy is teaming up with the Washington Nationals to provide nine innings' worth of easy suggestions to make your workplace more sustainable, and they're offering some pretty sweet deals as well.

Reserved tickets are available for federal employees, family and friends, ranging from $12 to $45. The $32 tickets come with a $10 concession credit, while the $45 tickets come with a $15 credit. The ticket deal must be purchased online in advance; a complete list of the seating options can be found here.

Friday's Earth-friendly pregame events include an Earth Day PSA, and during the game, a video featuring the Racing Presidents will share ideas to reduce your carbon footprint.

The Nats will battle the Minnesota Twins. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Fans are encouraged to post a picture on social media of their 2016 sustainability pledge, using the hashtag #SustainabilityPledge. Be sure to tag the Department of Energy in the post as well. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Holtby Shines as Mason's Mistake Gives Capitals Game 2 Win]]> Sun, 17 Apr 2016 07:57:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CapitalsGame2.jpg

Washington's Braden Holtby made 41 saves, Philadelphia's Steve Mason gave up a goal from 101 feet away and Alex Ovechkin scored on the power play and the Capitals beat the Flyers 4-1 in Game 2 Saturday night to take a 2-0 series lead.

Ovechkin's 37th Stanley Cup playoff goal was as predictable as Jason Chimera's goal from beyond the red line was unexpected. Mason whiffed at the puck on what turned out to be the game-winner.

The Flyers outshot the Capitals 42-23 and dominated for much of the game, but came up empty as John Carlson scored his second power-play goal in as many games and Nicklas Backstrom added one at even strength late. Jake Voracek scored the Flyers' only goal.

The series shifts to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Monday night.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Holtby's Goaltending: More of the Same (But Different)]]> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 14:16:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-521246866-%281%29.jpg

In the midst of the second of what would be his and his Washington Capitals' three penalty kills of the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1, Braden Holtby flashes quick glances all around the ice. Sweaters of red, white and orange are scattered in front of him, each one shifting ever so slightly as the puck whizzes around the ice. He hears a constant hum from from the crowd as they wait in anticipation for the next big move.

Holtby shifts to face the puck carrier, Claude Giroux, who is holding the puck along the half board. Holtby keeps a side eye on Brayden Schenn, positioned in the slot, anticipating the Flyers' next move.

Giroux fires the puck to Schenn, who winds up heavily for a one-timer. Holtby has a fraction of a second to react.

Physically, he's attuned. Cerebrally, he's focused. Emotionally, there's desire and passion.

The puck jumps off of Schenn's stick, ripping along the ice in an instant. Holtby flashes his left pad, rebounding the puck away from his crease, directly back into harm's way on the stick of the waiting Jakub Voracek. Instinctively, Holtby turns square to the puck and gobbles up the quick shot. A moment of calm breaks the hectic storm.

"In the playoffs, it's just a little easier to focus on the game," Holtby said following the 2-0 opening win. "There's less distractions, stats don't really matter, anything like that. You're not worried about giving up something, you're just focused on stopping that next puck. That's a mindset I've taken and maybe I can keep growing it."

Welcome to the life of Braden Holtby, playoff goaltender extraordinaire.

Holtby's 19-save effort in the 2-0 win earned him his third career playoff shutout. That's one more than the Capitals' former goaltenders Don Beaupre and Semyon Varlamov, and it places Holtby second on the franchise all-time list of the respective category.

It marks another pristine effort that Washington has grown accustomed to. Through his 35-career playoff games, Holtby has recorded an astounding .937 save percentage, the highest-such percentage in the history of the NHL among goaltenders with at least 25 playoff games. In his last 14 playoff games, that number has ballooned to an otherworldly .947.

But this one was a bit different. In the past, Holtby has seen an onslaught of shots. Last year, he faced 30.7 shots per playoff game. In the 2012-13 postseason, he faced 28.44. In his opening playoff campaign, he saw 29.88.

Last night, Holtby faced just 19 shots, 11 of which came in the first period alone, a period riddled with penalties. John Carlson took an early hooking call and Brooks Orpik took an illegal check to the head penalty and an interference infraction. Those early penalties were a bit anticipated by Holtby, and the quick flurry of shots helped him settle into the game.

"We gave up some penalty kills, which is where they got the majority of their chances from, and we held on" Holtby said. "Obviously, have a lot of emotion built up over the (last few) months, and we were just ready to go. Wasn't a surprise that we took a couple of penalties and we were ready to kill them off."

"You want to get into the game right at the start, but at the same time, you don't want to give up a goal right away," Holtby continued.

But after the Capitals got comfortable with that surge of adrenaline, they gave Holtby a solid effort. He said that his teammates didn't get too fancy on the blue line, and they instead made the smart play with the puck. The forecheck was strong, and the Capitals played the puck in the style they wanted, by placing the puck down in the corners below their opponents' cage.

"We played to our strength," Holtby said. "We got the puck deep, we got it below their goal line. That's our strength. That's where teams have a tough time playing with us because of our chemistry, our speed, our skill, our combination down there."

The Capitals' style is pretty tough to beat. Washington finished with the Presidents' Trophy, beating out the second-place Dallas Stars by 11 points. Their 252 goals were the second-most in the NHL, and their 193 goals against was the second-least in the NHL.

And while Holtby's past playoff performances are an indication of a tenacious rareness among goaltenders, it's important for the Capitals to not settle on their recent laurels. The opening win was a big one, but in the grand scheme of things, there is still more work to be done. Holtby knows that.

"(There's) a big goal in mind, and you can't get it wrapped up in one game," Holtby said. "Win or lose, you erase it right away."

Fifteen more to go.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Redskins Schedule Includes Thanksgiving, 3 Prime Time Games]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 21:35:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Redskins+Fans+You+Like+That+Sign+GettyImages-504398212.jpg

The Washington Redskins will open their 2016 season on "Monday Night Football" and will face the rival Cowboys in Dallas' traditional Thanksgiving Day game.

The season starts Sept. 12 with the Pittsburgh Steelers visiting FedEx Field. The Redskins will host a second "Monday Night Football" game against the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers Dec. 19.

It also includes a rare three-game road stretch beginning with that Thanksgiving game and followed by games at Arizona Dec. 4 and at Philadelphia Dec. 11. The last time the Skins played three straight away games was 2002.

The schedule includes three games in prime time.

  • Week 1: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Week 2: vs. Dallas Cowboys
  • Week 3: at New York Giants
  • Week 4: vs. Cleveland Browns
  • Week 5: at Baltimore Ravens
  • Week 6: vs. Philadelphia Eagles
  • Week 7: at Detroit Lions
  • Week 8: at Cincinnati Bengals (Wembley Stadium in London)
  • Week 9: Bye
  • Week 10: vs. Minnesota Vikings
  • Week 11: vs. Green Bay Packers
  • Week 12: at Dallas Cowboys
  • Week 13: at Arizona Cardinals
  • Week 14: at Philadelphia Eagles
  • Week 15: vs. Carolina Panthers
  • Week 16: at Chicago Bears
  • Week 17: vs. New York Giants

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How the Caps Match Up With the Flyers]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 14:10:52 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/washington+capitals3.jpg

After a hectic 120-point season, the Washington Capitals enter the Stanley Cup playoffs as the NHL’s top team.

The Capitals face the Philadelphia Flyers, the Eastern Conference’s second Wild Card team, in Thursday night's opener.

In a best of seven series, each team will pound and crash into one another, looking to get whatever sort of edge they possibly can.

Here’s how each team stacks up against one another by each position:


The Capitals boast one of the deepest forward units in the entire NHL. With high-scorers Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams accompanied by the playmakers Andre Burakovsky, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, few teams can match Washington’s top-two lines. Six forwards hit the 20-goal mark this season, and three players (Ovechkin, Backstrom and Kuznetsov) managed to record 70 points on the season.

But it’s the third and fourth line that really separates Washington’s unit from the rest of the pack. Marcus Johansson gives the Capitals a legitimate scoring presence in their bottom six.

Jay Beagle, Daniel Winnik and Mike Richards are Washington’s defensive specialists, while Tom Wilson isn’t afraid to get physical.

The Flyers don’t quite have that depth at forward.

Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek provide the majority of the offense for Philadelphia. Schenn set a new career high in total points, with 59, and Simmonds set a brand new best in goals with 32 on the season. Voracek, who finished with 81 points last year, the fourth-highest total in the NHL, had a bit of a down year. He only scored one goal in the first 30 games of the season but still tallied 55 points on the year.

Sean Couturier also set a new career-best point total with 39, despite playing in just 63 games. The 23-year-old remains as one of the better two-way players in the NHL, and his responsibility may be to tie up Kuznetsov as much as possible.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan White and Chris VandeVelde are the token “Broad Street Bullies” for the Flyers. Look for each of them to scuffle things up a bit.


The Capitals defensemen pride themselves on their puck movement, and every defenseman on the right side does just that very well. John Carlson, who played in just 56 games this year due to a lower body injury, is the most offensive-minded blue liner the Capitals possess. Matt Niskanen occasionally provides offense and stepped up on the Capitals’ power play in Carlson’s absence. Dmitry Orlov shows flashes of brilliance offensively, but he’s prone to the occasional costly giveaway in his defensive zone.

Karl Alzner is the very definition of reliable, playing in every single game over the past six seasons. Nate Schmidt gives the Capitals a versatile left-handed defenseman, and Brooks Orpik provides steady leadership and a physical presence.

The Flyers unit, as a whole, is a bit susceptible to defensive gaffes. Philadelphia allowed 11.2 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes of even-strength, 5-on-5 play this season, the ninth-most total in the NHL.

Shayne Gostisbehere was a breath of fresh air for Philadelphia this season. The rookie finished with 17 goals and 29 assists in 64 games this season. That’s the third-most goals ever scored by a rookie defenseman in the history of the NHL. Eight of those goals came on the power play, a unit that ranked 11th in the NHL this season.

Radko Gudas plays a very physical style of hockey, and that can occasionally get out of hand. The Capitals will also see a steady stream of Nick Schultz and Mark Streit, Philadelphia’s primary shutdown pairing.


This season, Braden Holtby tied the single-season mark for wins with 48. His .922 save percentage and 2.20 goals against average were both top five for goaltenders with at least 50 games played this season.

But Holtby will have a worthy opponent in Steve Mason. At even-strength, Mason’s .935 save percentage was slightly better than Holtby’s .931 save percentage. Mason is also used to seeing a heavy workload, averaging 31.04 shots per 60 minutes of even-strength play. However, in high-danger situations, Holtby’s .849 save percentage at even-strength bested Mason’s .847 percentage.

Holtby also bested Mason when it came to the penalty kill. Despite averaging 49.08 shots for every 60 minutes of penalty kill time, one more than Mason, Holtby stopped 88.12 percent of the shots he faced. Mason? He was only able to stop 82.74 percent of the shots he faced.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rocking the Red for the Caps]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 13:00:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014376718_1200x675_665995843561.jpg The Caps start their hunt for the Stanley Cup Thursday night! Assistant Manager Don Fishman, along by Slapshot and two Red Rockers, dishes on the anticipation leading up to the playoffs.]]> <![CDATA[The Capitals' Ice Cheetah Gets Serious]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 18:23:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/Jason_Chimera_Ice_Cheetah_Smile_041316+web+ready.png The Capitals' Jason Chimera, also known as the "Ice Cheetah," sat down with News4's Carol Maloney. Chimera talks about the Caps playoff hopes, mending a rocky relationship with his head coach and how making his own wine led to a career season.]]> <![CDATA[Braden Holtby Had a Season to Remember]]> Fri, 08 Apr 2016 14:42:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/202*120/Braden+Holtby+GettyImages-518641592.jpg

Even if you’ve tuned in to only a couple of Washington Capitals games this year, chances are you’ve seen Braden Holtby tend the goal and ultimately come out with a win.

He’s done that 46 times this year, more than any goaltender over the past nine seasons.

Holtby is chasing the NHL’s record for wins by a goaltender in a single season, set by longtime New Jersey Devil goaltender Martin Brodeur, who managed to tally 47 wins in the 2006-07 season.

With just two games remaining on the schedule, back-to-back weekend efforts against the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks, Holtby likely will not have an opportunity to break Brodeur’s record. Head coach Barry Trotz has already stated that Holtby will “absolutely not” play in both of the final two games.

But that still gives Holtby a single opportunity to at least tie the single-season record, and if he does so, it will be a great accomplishment to end a great season. On top of Holtby’s impressive win totals, his .921 save percentage and 2.22 goals against average are among the NHL’s best. And in a particularly tight Vezina Trophy race, the trophy given to the NHL’s top goaltender, Holtby’s win totals may ultimately give him the accolade nod.

Dating back to the 1929-30 season, when Boston Bruins’ goaltender Tiny Thompson set the single-season win total, the single-season win mark has been set by seven different goaltenders. Of those seven goaltenders, six went on to win the Vezina Trophy that same year.

Holtby’s accomplishment is particularly impressive when you consider the amount of games he has played. In the 2006-07 season, Brodeur played in 78 games when he set the record. So while he won 47 games in a single season, he also lost 23 games in regulation and another seven in overtime. Assuming Holtby does only end up playing in one of the final two games, he will have only appeared in 66 games this season, 12 fewer than Brodeur. Holtby has lost just nine games in regulation this year and another seven in overtime. He has become the first player in NHL history to record at least 45 wins while playing fewer than 70 games in a season.

But Holtby has his work cut out for him if he wants to share the record with Brodeur. Whether he plays against the Blues or the Ducks, Holtby will face an elite offense. Since the beginning of March, the Blues have scored the fourth-most goals in the NHL, 59, and the Ducks aren’t too far behind with 57 goals, the seventh-most in the NHL.

Holtby has already suited up against the Ducks this season, earning a victory in a shootout early in March. He hasn’t suited up against the Blues yet this season -- backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer got that start and surrendered four goals in a losing effort.

Whether or not Holtby ties Brodeur’s record is yet to be seen, but one thing is for certain: The goaltender has had a year to remember, and one we may never see again.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nationals Players Coach Kids]]> Fri, 01 Apr 2016 18:16:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/scholar+athletes.jpg Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper, Joe Ross, Michael A. Taylor, Blake Treinen and Ben Revere met with student athletes Friday to impart some of their baseball wisdom.

Photo Credit: Paul Kim/Washington Nationals]]>
<![CDATA[Ignite Your Natitude! A Guide to the Nationals' Home Opener]]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 10:17:52 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_826233972.jpg

Get your ballcaps (and umbrellas) ready... The Washington Nationals are back in town after a long winter off-season! The home opener against the Miami Marlins is set for Thursday, with the first pitch scheduled for 4:05 p.m. -- if the rain doesn't delay it, that is.

The Nats will battle the Marlins twice more over opening weekend, Saturday at 4:05 p.m. and Sunday at 1:35 p.m. Tickets are still available for both games.

If you're looking for team news, go here. But if you're just wondering about new food, Thursday's weather, and whether there's a free bobblehead in your future, read on.

What's going on with the weather?

After Wednesday's frigid weather, temps Thursday will at least be back up in the 60s -- but with a 100 percent chance of rain. Moderate rain is moving through the D.C. area Thursday, although the heaviest rain should be gone by early afternoon.

After that, the rain will be hit and miss, with periods of sunshine. Although Storm Team4 says it's now unlikely that a rain delay will push back the first pitch at 4:05 p.m., it could cause a rain delay later on in the game.

Are there any freebies or special events?

Why, yes, yes there are. They have to start the season right, after all. On opening day, the first 25,000 fans will receive Nationals sunglasses.

On Saturday, the first 20,000 fans age 21 or older will score a Budweiser T-shirt.

On Sunday, kids ages 4-12 will get the chance to run the bases after the game. It’s also a Signature Sunday, when two players will sign autographs from the top of the dugout 70 minutes prior to the first pitch. Fans must obtain a free voucher to participate; they’re available when the gates open at Sections 109 and 142.

And both Saturday and Sunday on opening weekend, Harris Teeter Family Fun Packs are available, offering a ticket and meal deal.

When does the park open?

Center Field Gate will open two and a half hours prior to the start of the game, allowing fans access to the Center Field sands and the Center Field concourse area.

On Thursday, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the Scoreboard Walk area will open two and a half hours prior to the start of the game. All other gates will open 90 minutes prior to the start of the game, allowing fans access to the entire ballpark.

What's new at the park since last year?

Find the Nats' concessions guide online here. This year, two local food companies will be added to the vendor lineup: Maryland-based Pinch Dumplings and Virginia-based Haute Dogs and Fries, winners of the Pitch Your Product competition, a contest designed to promote local entrepreneurs and help them expand their businesses.

Pinch Dumplings, housed in Section 302, offers handmade, traditional Northern Chinese dumplings made with locally grown, organic ingredients.

Located in Section 105, Haute Dogs and Fries uses locally sourced ingredients to cook up affordable but ballpark-worthy dogs.

Anheuser-Busch is the Nats' new beer partner this year, a switch from MillerCoors, the team's primary beer partner since 2005. Don't worry, beers from outside the Anheuser-Busch InBev portfolio will still be sold at the park.

What about the rest of the neighborhood?

The area around Nats Park is expanding, leaving several holes as lots prepare for construction. Since the end of the 2015 season, a Hampton Inn and several restaurants including sports bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings and Il Parco, which specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza, have joined the neighborhood. Whaley's, a raw bar and seafood restaurant, and The Brig, a beer garden, are among the other Capitol Riverfront joints expected to open in spring 2016, according to JDLand.com. A number of residential units are anticipating completion after the 2016 season.

What do you need to know about security?

Everyone attending the game will need to pass through metal detectors -- so make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get through the line. If you won't want to walk through, you can be checked with a handheld metal detector. Security agents will also conduct bag checks and will have new security efforts both seen and unseen by patrons.

What can you -- and can't you -- bring into the ballpark?

You're allowed to bring in one unopened bottle of water, as well as your own food in a single-serving bag. You're also permitted to bring cameras, but lenses can't be longer than 8 inches. 

You can't bring in any bag larger than 16"x16"x8" (about the size of a tote bag) or any umbrella that can't be collapsed. Metal, plastic and glass containers (other than that one water bottle) are also not allowed.

What's the best way to get there?

Metrorail: Of course, you can always take the Metro (Green Line to the Navy Yard station), but you knew that already. During playoff games, officials were recommending that Metro riders use alternate stations, but the Navy Yard station can accommodate 24,000 passengers an hour, which should be fine this early in the season.

Metrobus: Several Metrobus routes serve the ballpark: the A9 Limited and V1 (during rush hours only), as well as the V4, 74 and P6. 

Circulator: If Metro's not your top pick, consider the D.C. Circulator, which is often less crowded than the Metro. The Union Station-Navy Yard route runs every 10 minutes to and from Union Station (Metro's Red Line). It stops at the Eastern Market Metro (Blue, Orange and Silver lines) on the way; see a map of the complete route here. Extended service will run during all Nationals home games. Metro riders can transfer to the Circulator for just 50 cents.

Bicycle: If you'd prefer to ride your bike, you can use the free bike valet service in Garage C at the corner of N & 1st Street SE. The valet is on N Street just left of the entrance. You'll also find 250 bike racks around the exterior of the park. There are also several Capital Bikeshare stations near the stadium, including:

  • 1st and N Streets SE
  • 1st and K Streets SE
  • M Street and New Jersey Avenue, SE
  • 3rd and Tingey Streets SE

Taxi: Due to construction along Van Street SE, the Taxicab drop-off area before the game will be located on the east side of Half Street SE, just north of M Street SE. After the game, the Taxicab Stand pickup area is located on the north side of M Street SE, between South Capitol SE and Half Street SE.

Water taxi: Two water taxi companies can bring you to Diamond Teague Park, located behind Nats Park. American River Taxi travels between Georgetown, the Southwest Waterfront and the park; Potomac Riverboat Company travels between National Harbor and Alexandria.

Driving/Parking: Driving to Nats Park is a bold (and expensive) move, but if you have the patience, and the cash, here's a guide to parking lots around the stadium. (Note: JDLand.com also has a handy parking guide here.)

However, DDOT is warning drivers to expect heavy traffic and delays around the ballpark and on routes such as Interstates 295, 695, 395 and the Southeast/Southwest Freeway, plus the intersection of South Capitol and M streets SE. Construction on the Capitol Crossing Project in the 3rd Street tunnel will also cause some delays, DDOT said.

The following streets adjacent to the ballpark will be closed three hours before the start of each home game and may remain closed up to three hours after a game ends:

  • N Street SE, between Van Street and 1st Street SE
  • Half Street SE, between M Street and N Street, SE

Carissa DiMargo contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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<![CDATA[Nationals Park Prepares for Opening Day, New Season]]> Tue, 29 Mar 2016 18:51:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/nationals+park+preps.jpg

Baseball season is about to begin, and the Washington Nationals are set to come home after a successful spring training in Viera, Florida.

The Nationals host the Minnesota Twins Friday night and Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. The regular season home opener is scheduled for April 7 against the Florida Marlins.

While the team has been getting ready for another season, the ballpark next to the Navy Yard has also been preparing for fans with some new safety changes, new food choices and some things most will never see.

The stadium seats almost 42,000 people, and fans again will see the metal detectors first used last season because of continued world violence and terrorism. Frank Gambino, who runs security and ballpark operations, said some new security efforts will be seen and not seen.

“We put in a lot of effort into not only the design of the metal detectors but the planning and implementation,” Gambino told News4’s Tom Sherwood. “There’s obviously things I can’t talk about that we’re implementing this season. I will tell you we are having K-9 teams at every ball game this year.”

But that’s all behind the scenes stuff to prepare for games. Seventy-five percent of the fans go to the game with another member of their family, and the team is offering new foods and new eating and drinking spaces to make the ballpark even more a place of family fun.

“So, 42 percent of our fans are women, so we are constantly looking at ways to improve the experience,” said Valerie Camillo, chief revenue and marketing officer for the Nationals. “We have a number of fans, the majority of our ticket buyers come from Virginia. We also have great representation from Maryland and, of course, the District.”

Fans sitting close to home plate will receive some extra protection. Major League Baseball recommended teams implement additional safety features for field-level seats with 70 feet of home plate.

Several fans throughout the league were injured by foul balls last season. New netting at Nationals Park will extend to the outer ends of the dugouts, protecting the fans in the lower seating locations.

Metro is still the best way to get to the park near the Anacostia River. There are still some parking locations within a handful of blocks from Nationals Park, but after eight years in southeast, Camillo said development is filling in spaces that once were parking lots for fans.

“The development around here is phenomenal,” Camillo said. “We do a game called crane counting, where we try to figure out exactly how many places are building.”

The Nationals season opener is Monday in Atlanta to take on the Braves at Turner Field. They’ll play two in the Georgia park’s last season for the Braves, who will be moving to SunTrust Park in 2017.