City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: Caps Can’t Overcome the Least Dangerous Deficit in Hockey?

Where Credit Is Due (cont.): DC Parks and Recreation staff has kept at least some doors open during Tsnownami 2K10. Agency spokesman and all-around hard worker John Stokes tells me Banneker Rec Center has been open all week as a "warming center" and to give people "something to do."

"Banneker has been open 24 hours, providing breakfast, letting people come in off the streets," says Stokes. "And it's been packed."

Today, Stokes said, DPR will also open the Riggs-LaSalle, King-Greenleaf, Lamond, Bald Eagle Rec Centers from at least noon to 6 p.m.

"We're kind of proud of that," Stokes says.

Kudos, DPR.

***

More reasons for DPR to be prideful: The Black History Invitational Swim Meet will take place as scheduled, all weekend long at the Takoma Aquatic Center.

Swimming has been a dying sport in D.C. for about as long as the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers have been unswimmable. The Black History Invitational was founded 24 years ago to try to get city kids involved in an activity that was all but ceded to their suburban counterparts.

Stokes says that all of the nearly 800 minority competitors, ages 5–18, who were registered to compete in this year's event are still expected to show up from across the country for what is dubbed “the premier minority swim competition in the United States and in the world.” The DPR's own youth swim team, the DC Wave, will be among those in the water.

The only thing canceled is today's press conference.

"We're still full speed ahead with the swim meet," Stokes told me this morning. "Nobody's backing out. We are quite pleased that in the midst of all this, there's going to be some swimming going on."

(AFTER THE JUMP: Is Steve Kolbe great or what? What's the unsafest lead in hockey? What's the dumbest cliche in hockey? Will Wing Bowl DC survive the snow?)

This year's Black History Invitational will also include swimming clinics called "Make a Splash," which is part of a national water-safety program co-sponsored by USA Swimming and Diversity in Aquatics. Data provided by those groups shows that about 60 percent of black and Hispanic children in the U.S. can't swim.

The competition kicks off tomorrow in the early evening. The event is free and open to the public.

***

The best sports moments seem like destiny. And when Steve Kolbe made a call of a Jose Theodore save midway through the third period last night and with the Capitals down two goals in Montreal, I believed the winning streak was still very alive. Because Kolbe believed.

"Theodore LUNGING out to his right side and he ROBS [Andrei] Markov!" Kolbe screamed.

Kolbe was so enthusiastic that it just seemed like he knew something beyond what the scoreboard said at the time: 5-3, favoring the hosts. Besides, even a remedial student of the game such as myself knows that a two-goal differential is called "the most dangerous lead in hockey."

And then Brooks Laich scored seconds later to cut the hosts' lead to a single goal — which I'm guessing is the Second Most Dangerous Lead in Hockey — and Kolbe went even crazier. "Don't go anywhere!" Kolbe screamed. "Put down the shovel and stick with us!

I'm not going anywhere, Steve! I took a seat in front of the radio, like a Depression Era family during the Louis-Schmeling fight.

Then Laich scored again to tie things up with 19 seconds left. "Miraculous!" Kolbe screamed. "The Capitals have battled their way back! And the fans in Montreal are stunned! If I wasnt here, I wouldn't believe it!

Who cares if it's one game in the middle of a six-month season? We're heading to overtime! This is drama! This is fabulous!

But for Caps fans, the equal and opposite reaction came with a wrister from some foreigner named Tomas Plekanek with 7 seconds-and-change left in overtime.

"And the streak is over," Kolbe monotoned.

Dang. Destiny, shmestiny.

But the lesson I took away from last night's game: In hockey, it's actually safer to have a two-goal lead then to be tied. Especially in overtime.

And maybe the odds of putting together a 14-game winning streak really are 610,352-to-1.

***
The wintry mix didn't kill off Wing Bowl DC!

On Friday night, the biggest gluttons in the area will be at Hard Times Cafe in Springfield for the final round of the competitive eating tournament, sponsored by sportstalker WJFK.

Whomever gets named “King of the Wing” will get $2,500. And, I hope, a bucket. It's about time somebody blew the lid off the "Bulimia in Competitive Eating" story.

***

Story tips? Wanna Play the Feud? Tube amps for sale? Send to: cheapseats@washingtoncitypaper.com

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