The Washington Wizards are trying to save their basketball season. The Washington Capitals are busy doing the same thing with their hockey season. Let’s take a look.
The Wizards’ season can be split into two parts: when their star point guard, John Wall, was hurt and after he came back.
Without Wall, the Wizards were the worst team in the National Basketball Association, posting a record of 5-28 (five wins and 28 losses). But since he came back from a leg injury, Washington has been pretty good. The team’s record with Wall through Sunday’s win against Philadelphia was 14-11. (To see the results of Wednesday’s game against the Timberwolves, check today’s Sports section.)
I’m not saying the Wizards are the Miami Heat, but they are getting better. Wall and rookie guard Bradley Beal give the team an exciting, young back court. Veteran big men Nene and Emeka Okafor get rebounds. And everyone is hustling on defense. The Wizards have one of the best defenses in the NBA for making their opponents miss shots.
The Wizards are also setting a good example for kids. Even though they don’t have much chance of making the playoffs, they are playing hard and trying to get better. That’s good to remember the next time you have a bad game or two or a disappointing report card in school. Don’t give up. Keep trying to improve.
The Caps got off to a bad start, too. Right now, they are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. This NHL season is 48 games, not the regular 82, because it started late after owners and players had a disagreement about money. So the Caps need to turn things around fast.
The Caps are not the talented young crew of a few years ago. Alexander Semin is now with the Carolina Hurricanes. Defenseman Mike Green is hurt a lot. Nicklas Backstrom is a great passer but not a big scorer.
And Alex Ovechkin is struggling. Ovechkin used to be among the NHL leaders in goals and points (goals and assists). Now, even though he had a hat trick — three goals in one game – against the New Jersey Devils, more than 50 NHL players have more points than Ovechkin.
So can the Caps make the playoffs?
The goaltending is getting better. Braden Holtby, the Caps’ number-one goalie, has had three shutouts in the past month. But if the Caps want to make the playoffs, they will have to work hard and out-hustle their opponents.
In other words, the Caps should play like the Wizards.
Fred Bowen is the author of 19 sports books for kids. His latest book, “Perfect Game,” has just been published.