Washington sports update

By Carolyn Freeman

The Washington Nationals look to improve on last year’s first place NL East finish and trip to the playoffs. In the offseason the Nationals added Dan Haren to their pitching staff, widely considered the best in the National League. The Nationals also signed center fielder and leadoff man Denard Span, and resigned Adam LaRoche, who is coming off one of his most productive offensive seasons. So far, the Nationals have a 8-6 record and are being carried by their starting pitchers Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann. On the offensive side, Bryce Harper has hit five home runs and Ian Desmond is hitting .315.

The storyline this year for the Wizards is all about John Wall. The Wizards have bounced back from a 5-28 start without their star point guard and are finishing the season 24-24 with him in the lineup. After placing dead last in the 15-team Eastern Conference last season, the Wizards are currently 11th with one game to go, 8 points behind the last playoff spot. Bright spots for the season have been rookie Bradley Beal, who is averaging just over 13 points per game, and Nene, who is averaging 12.7. The Wizards are young and if they stay healthy, they should be able to contend in the years to come.

Alex Ovechkin has caught fire, scoring 18 goals in the Capitals’ last 18 games, leading the team to a 14-4 record over that stretch. Ovechkin’s play has propelled the Capitals to first in the Southeast Conference and third in the Eastern Conference. With only five games to go in the season, the Capitals hold a four point advantage over the Winnipeg Jets for control of the division and the third spot in the conference. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals, with a total of 28 this season. Strong play from centers Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Ribeiro have helped the Caps balance their offense, and Mike Green and John Carlson anchor the team’s defense. Look for the Capitals to be a tough out in the playoffs, and hopefully this year can be the year to bring the Stanley Cup to Washington for the first time.