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Cancer treatment can't stop Capitals fan Amanda Wilson from seeing Stanley Cup chase in person

Cancer treatment can't stop Capitals fan Amanda Wilson from seeing Stanley Cup chase in person

Sometimes sports can be about so much more than just a game.

Like every Caps fan, Amanda Wilson has been waiting 20 years to see her beloved Washington Capitals advance past the second round of the playoffs. A Washington fan through and through, Wilson grew up in the area and attended Robinson Second School in Fairfax, Va. She attended James Madison University and even worked as a bartender at Joe Theismann’s Restaurant in Alexandria.

Along with her husband, Adrian Wilson, Amanda has remained a loyal Capitals fan over the years going to hundreds of games, including the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Park. Traditionally, the Wilsons also go to a home playoff game every season.

But sometimes hockey and sports must take a backseat to life and it did for the Wilsons on Feb. 21. On that day, Amanda was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma of the inferior vena cava, an extremely rare form of cancer.

Rather than following the Capitals’ improbable run to a third straight Metropolitan Division title, the Wilsons uprooted their lives and the lives of their young children and moved to Minnesota where Wilson could get treatment at the Mayo Clinic. Though she has had to follow from afar, hockey has been a welcome distraction.

The Caps opened the postseason with two straight losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but before Game 3, Amanda received a very special gift from friends: A Washington Capitals jersey signed by her favorite players with a personal message saying, “To Amanda, Stay Strong.” The number on the jersey was 20, the same number she wore while playing high school soccer for Robinson. She wore the jersey as she watched Game 3 and saw Lars Eller, No. 20 for the Capitals, score the overtime winner.

Since then, Wilson has been wearing her jersey for every game. Her husband Adrian wrote in an email to NBC Sports Washington that she cried “tears of joy” when they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time since 1994.

Despite everything going on he wrote, “This was as happy as I have ever seen my wife, truly, even under these really tough circumstances.”

Now between treatments and with permission from the doctors, the Wilsons decided to stick with their tradition and returned to Washington to attend Game 3 and Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final.

And yes, she brought her special jersey.

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D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

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@tkopaintings on Twitter

D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

Local artist Taylor Kampa has taken her love for the Washington Capitals and turned it into works of art. 

You can find paintings done by Kampa of Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Braden Holtby on display at Circa Chinatown – a restaurant neighboring Capital One Arena – along with other D.C. celebrities.

A professional artist for the last decade, Kampa told NHL.com that the pictures were "passion projects," and took about eight hours to finish. She became a fan of the Caps after she began dating her now-husband back in 2009.

Her work has even caught the eye of The Great Eight. After posting a video to Instagram of her painting Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner liked and commented on it. 

"I almost died," Kampa said.

"It has been amazing sharing something that I am excited about that resonates with the people in my city," Kampa said. "I've been painting these portraits for a long time, so it's awesome to have them seen by so many people."

Kampa will also create paintings for the Capitals foundation's annual Casino Night fundraiser next year. 

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Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Who will be the team's primary fourth line center?

With the departure of Jay Beagle, there is a spot open at center on the fourth line. There appears on the roster to be three clear candidates to fill that position: Chandler Stephenson, Travis Boyd and Nic Dowd.

To find out why you should cross Stephenson’s name off the list, you should read yesterday's Key Caps Question about whether or not Stephenson is a wing or a center. To summarize, Washington sees Stephenson as more of a wing which explains why they both re-signed Boyd and brought in Dowd.

So who will it be between those two?

Both players seem to fit the mold as effective centers in the AHL where they were both productive. Dowd has an edge in NHL experience with 131 NHL games as compared to Boyd’s eight.

But Barry Trotz clearly had faith in Boyd at center which is why we saw him fill in on the top line on March 18 in Philadelphia. Boyd rewarded that faith with a spin pass to Alex Ovechkin for an assist, his first career point.

Trotz is now gone and Todd Reirden is in charge, but there is at least a level of familiarity there with the coaching staff and Boyd, more so than with Dowd who is new to the organization.

Second, the Caps may have tipped their hand a bit when you compare the two contracts. Center is an important position and Brian MacLellan has frequently referenced the team’s strength in center depth as a major reason for their Cup run.

Both Boyd and Dowd were signed over the offseason. Both contracts are one-way, suggesting both will be in the NHL, but Boyd’s cap hit is $800,000 while Dowd’s is $650,000. Of course, that will not matter when the players get on the ice. If Dowd outplays Boyd, he will start over him. Plus, the market ultimately dictates price. Even if the Caps wanted Dowd for their top line, if you can get him for $650k, you sign him for $650k.

Considering how important a position center is, however, even on the fourth line, it seems telling that the team was willing to give Boyd, a player with eight games of experience to his name, $800k while Dowd was signed for the minimum. That seems to suggest the Caps at least foresee Boyd having a bigger role which, for two players penciled in for the fourth line, would mean playing him at center.

Other key Caps questions: