File photo by Brian Murphy for The Sports Capitol

TSC Newsletter: Pain and Payne on a Thursday

BY TODD DYBAS | APRIL 27, 2018

Who is Da’Ron Payne?

“Coming out as a junior, he’s only 20 years old,” Jay Gruden said. “Big, strong, physical guy. You see what’s going on in our division with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott and Philadelphia, the way they run the ball. Our ranking on defense wasn’t quite up to speed at 32nd and we feel like Da’Ron paired with Jonathan Allen and the rest of the guys – Stacy McGee and Matt [Ioannidis] and Terrell [McClain], Anthony [Lanier II] – I think he’s a perfect fit.”

This is the first time in draft history a coach has believed the first-round selection was a “perfect fit.” Or, it happens every time.

What else would Gruden say? There is s basic argument that selecting defensive lineman to play in the middle is a sound choice. The base of that logic exists in the Redskins woeful run defense of a season ago. Ben was at Redskins Park watching the draft situation unfold. He can better explain why Payne works for the Redskins in this spot, even if other draft pundits think he was a bit of a reach at 13th overall.

The Caps played. Do we want to get into that? Todd and Brian were there, so I suppose we should. It started well. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 17 seconds into the game. It went well afterward. The Capitals led 2-0 in the third period following Alex Ovechkin’s goal. Game of the Eastern Conference semifinals ended in a 3-2 loss. Pittsburgh scored three times in less than five minutes. Sidney Crosby was at the helm each shift. That’s right. A blown 2-0 lead against Pittsburgh and Crosby to open a playoff series at home. Brian explains what happened during the evening. Todd looks at what Braden Holtby referred to as “strange” plays that led to two of the goals, including the one that held up as the game-winner. The Capitals are off the ice Friday. They get to sit at home and stew.

“I think we played a solid game,” Ovechkin said. “They have lots of chances. Holts was unbelievable today. You know, one mistake, one bad bounce and they’re back in the game. You know, that’s it. Nothing you can say. It’s over, so we have to focus on the next game.”

The Wizards did not practice Thursday. But, Scott Brooks did meet with the media. He delivered some interesting news: Otto Porter’s status for Game 6 is in question. Porter has looked a step slow throughout the series. Brooks deemed him “100 percent healthy” after he was asked two days after Game 2. Hmm. Porter is averaging just 10 points per game in the series. Ben has more ahead of Friday night’s Game 6 that could end the season.

Some of the Nationals players spent their day off at the Capitals-Penguins game. Manager Davey Martinez was the “Fan of the Game” and started the “Let’s go Caps” chant pregame. Max Scherzer, Ryan Zimmerman, Brandon Kintzler, Trea Turner, Shawn Kelley and Bryce Harper — the latter of which is a large Vegas Golden Knights fan — were also there. No word on how Martinez lined up their seats. Stephen Strasburg is on the mound Friday to start a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

We’ll be with you throughout a busy weekend.

Thanks for listening, reading and subscribing.

Ben, Brian and Todd

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