Since Ted Leonsis bought the remaining stakes in the Washington Wizards in 2010 from the Pollin family, he made it clear his goal was to see that all the teams he owned, including the Wizards, win a championship for the nation's capital.
We are now finally starting to see that two of the teams he owns have made some significant progress toward that goal.
On Sunday, the Wizards swept the Raptors in a four-game series to advance to the second round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs. And on Monday, the Capitals defeated the Islanders, 2-1, to advance to the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs after Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the game-winner with 7:58 remaining in the game. Yes, both teams have advanced to the second round of the playoffs multiple times before. But it's the first time that the Wizards and Capitals made the second round of the playoffs in the same season. This is something for sports teams in the nation's capital to be excited about!
Over the last five years, I'll admit that I felt that there were times when I felt that the Wizards were close to the point where they would have to rebuild a rebuild, like the Minnesota Timberwolves have been doing for about a decade. However, over the last couple seasons -- or more like the last two and a half seasons now that I think about it -- the Wizards have started to turn a corner and become a consistent playoff contender. They still have work to do, but the Wizards are in peak form heading into the second round when they face the Hawks or Nets. (Yes, the Nets beat the Hawks 120-115 earlier on Monday!)
For the Capitals, seeing them get back to the second round of the playoffs is also nothing short of awesomeness after an underachieving 2013-14 season. The Caps were the sixth highest scoring offense in the NHL in the regular season and led the league in converting power play (5-on-4) opportunities when they scored 25.3% of the time in those situations. During their playoff series vs. New York, the Caps became very stingy on the penalty kill (or the team with 4 players when the opposing team has a power play) when they stopped all of the Isles' opportunities to score on their power plays. No doubt that this was huge, even if the Islanders were just 16th in power play percentage heading into the playoffs.
Anyways, that's enough basketball and hockey talk from me. I know that some folks in D.C. still probably aren't excited about playoff basketball and hockey extending well into May, at least not yet. But once a team is in the playoffs and is performing well, it's time to live in the moment. Cliché I know, but you never know just long this ride will last any season.
So, Congratulations, Wizards, Capitals, and Monumental Sports for this (sorry for the corny pun) Monumental achievement toward that goal! As a fan, I'm really excited and happy to see that Verizon Center will #RockTheRed in May (AND HOPEFULLY INTO JUNE) because .... #dcRising!