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Olympians, Caps mascot join skating clinic at Fort DuPont to promote increasing Internet accessibility

Olympians, Caps mascot join skating clinic at Fort DuPont to promote increasing Internet accessibility

WASHINGTON - In today’s day and age, the internet has simply become a part of life, a necessity we rely upon and one that we tend to take for granted. In some communities, however, getting access to the internet is not so easy.

Comcast, the parent company of NBC Sports Washington, wants to change that.

Comcast joined Cornerstone Schools of Washington, D.C. on Tuesday for a skating clinic at Fort Dupont Ice Arena to discuss the expansion of its Internet Essentials program to all qualified low-income members of the community.

“The real thrust of Comcast, NBC Universal's corporate social responsibility program is to level the playing field, to increase inclusiveness and exposure in the communities where our employees and customers live and work,” said David L. Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer of Comcast. “So if you think about internet essentials, which we're in Washington to promote, that is about getting people connected to the internet who are not connected in order to level the playing field and provide them with an equivalent opportunity for success in life, particularly kids who need the internet to do their homework and you've got 25 to 50-percent of the kids in Washington don't have access to the internet at home.”

The skating clinic included several special guests as the coaches were assisted by Olympians Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Monique Lamoureux-Morando and paralympian Rico Roman. Capitals mascot Slapshot even made an appearance for the on-ice activities.

“Being an Olympian and being an Olympic champion, it really gives you a platform and we want to use that platform to really give back and especially to kids and to kids that might not have the same opportunities or resources as others,” Lamoureux-Morando said. “Being able to work with the internet essentials program does exactly that. It's really helping to level the playing field, not just for kids, but for all low-income Americans. So if we're able to be a part of something that's really giving back and making a positive impact all over the country, sign us up to help out.”

While access to the internet and hockey may seem like a surprising combination, but the decision to use hockey to help illustrate Comcast’s announcement was no coincidence.

As the point of the Internet Essentials program is to help level the playing field for low-income Americans, using Fort Dupont hockey as a backdrop seemed like a perfect fit.

“Programs like [Fort Dupont hockey] in Washington and like Snider youth hockey in Philadelphia are designed to level the playing field for kids who might be interested in hockey,” Cohen said. “It's an expensive sport so it may not be the most natural sport that they pick up. It's not something that's offered in most public schools except up in New England.

"So to support programs like this, to expose kids to hockey and grow the interest in hockey is leveling the playing field and providing some opportunity for kids to play an incredible sport that has everything that kids like -- action, speed, hitting, scoring, teamwork. That is I think part of our overall philosophy.”

“Having kids just having the accessibility to go play whether that's hockey or whatever sport it may be,” Lamoureux-Davidson said, “We're passionate about that and the life lessons they can teach.”

Comcast is significantly expanding the eligibility for Internet Essentials to include all qualified low-income households in its service area. The program is the nation’s largest, most comprehensive and most successful broadband adoption program in America. Expansion of the program now makes an estimated 3 million additional low-income households eligible to apply.

In addition, the company announced that, since August 2011, Internet Essentials has connected more than 8 million low-income individuals, from 2 million households to the Internet at home.

“The internet, it's not a luxury anymore,” Lamoureux-Morando said. “It's a necessity to apply for a job, to apply for college, to do your homework. So you can't possibly expect kids, adults, seniors to succeed and reach their full potential if they don't have access to the internet or a tool to access the internet.
“When we learned about the program and really learned about the issue that it's an actual problem in America when we shouldn't be having this issue so to be able to lend our voice to giving back and for Comcast to really truly create a program that's truly making a difference -- it's reached over 8 million Americans to date -- and they just continue to expand the program and try to figure out different ways to reach more Americans.”

But just the expansion of the program was not the highlight of the day. Cohen announced at the end of Tuesday’s event that Comcast would be giving all the students from Cornerstone Schools a brand new laptop.

“What I think is so impactful about the laptop giveaway is you can't find the cost of those laptops on our financial statements or balance sheet,” Cohen said, “But you see in the look on the kids' eyes and the way they react that they know they've been given a gift that has the potential to transform their lives.

That's what companies should be doing. That's what part of our corporate purpose is and it's something that we're very proud of our ability to give back all in the name of trying to level the playing field.”

“To see that reaction,” Lamoureux-Morando said, “You know that you're truly making a difference in their lives and that's what really matters.”

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Caps finally solve Halak for improbable shootout win

Caps finally solve Halak for improbable shootout win

The Capitals needed a goal from T.J. Oshie with less than a minute remaining to force overtime on Saturday where they would go on to defeat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a shootout.

It looked like Jaroslav Halak would once again pull off a miraculous win as he turned aside 42 shots, but the Caps kept up the pressure late to tie the game and get back in the win column.

Saturday's win is now Washington's 15th in the last 16 contests against the Bruins.

Here is how the Caps won.

Boyd makes the most of his opportunity

On Friday, Travis Boyd was a Hershey Bear. With Nic Dowd and Carl Hagelin both injured but without enough money under the cap for Boyd, the Caps recalled Tyler Lewington on Friday and skated seven defensemen and only 11 forwards against the Montreal Canadiens. On Saturday, the team sent Lewington and Ilya Samsonov to Hershey and recalled Vitek Vanecek and Boyd. The extra cap space the team gained from Vanecek taking Samsonov's spot allowed them to recall Boyd and skate four full forward lines. The impact of Boyd's addition was felt in the first period when Boyd scored a deflection to beat Halak and get the Caps on the board.

In seven games with the Caps this season, Boyd has one goal and four assists.

Caps get their power play setup on 6-on-5

For much of the night, the Caps just could not figure out Halak. They poured on the shots, but he was there each time and looked like he would be able to lead his team to the narrow victory. Late in regulation, the Caps pulled Braden Holtby for the extra attacker and the Caps gave Boston a power play look.

Washington had its top power play unit on the ice plus Tom Wilson. The goal looked like one right out of the power play's playbook with Evgeny Kuznetsov behind the goal line feeding Oshie in the slot. Oshie is great at getting those quick shots away from in close and he finally beat Halak with 59 seconds remaining.

Oshie was instrumental in setting up the goal as well as he blocked a clearing attempt from Zdeno Chara with his glove to keep the puck in the offensive zone just seconds before Kuznetsov set him up for the goal.

Backstrom and Vrana deliver in the shootout

Washington scored only twice on the shootout, but that would be all they needed.

The normally automatic Oshie was stopped on his shootout attempt putting Washington behind early on.I n a score-or-go-home situation for Nicklas Backstrom, he managed to sneak a shot in between the glove and the pad of Halak to force extra rounds of the shootout. Then Jakub Vrana pulled off one of the nices shootout goals you will ever see.


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Boyd makes his case, Oshie saves the game and Vrana dazzles

Boyd makes his case, Oshie saves the game and Vrana dazzles

The Capitals are back in the win column after Saturday's 3-2 shootout win, but they almost didn't get there because of that pesky Jaroslav Halak. It took a last minute goal from T.J. Oshie and some shootout magic by Jakub Vrana. Having four full forward lines certainly helped, too.

Check out the recap of Saturday's game here.

Observations from the win

Boyd or Stephenson? Boyd is making his case

Carl Hagelin and Nic Dowd are both out with injury. Both are considered day-to-day and one or both should be returning to the lineup sooner rather than later. When that happens, the Caps are going to have to send someone back to Hershey and, with a goal against Boston, Travis Boyd is doing his best to make sure it isn't him.

In all likelihood, the decision will come down to Boyd or Chandler Stephenson again. Boyd has lost that competition earlier this season, but after Boyd's goal on Saturday I think whether to keep him in Washington or not at least warrants a discussion.

The Caps are so close to the salary cap that when both Dowd and Hagelin were out injured, the team recalled Tyler Lewington, a defenseman, because it could not afford Boyd under the cap ceiling. With things so tight, the Caps need to find a way to bank more cap space and keeping Boyd ($800,000 cap hit) over Stephenson ($1.05 million cap hit) would certainly help.

It's not just about money. Stephenson responded to Todd Reirden's preseason challenge and justified his spot in the lineup to start. He is a very fast player which is an important attirbute in today's NHL and also plays on the penalty kill which Boyd does not.

Five-on-five play matters too, however, and Boyd has far exceeded Stephenson's play in that area including his production. In 18 games and an average of 11:22 of ice time, Stephenson has 2 goals and one assist. In just seven games and 9:09 of ice time, Boyd has one goal and four assists.

Boyd produces with less playing time in fewer games and has a lower cap hit. Is the fact that Stephenson can play on the penalty kill enough to send Boyd back to Hershey? I'm not so sure.

The value of dirty goals

Don't get me wrong, Jaroslav Halak was great in this game. He made 42 saves and did a great job tracking the puck and getting in front of it to make the first save. Having said that, he was shaky with the puck all night. He could make that first save, but everything after was an adventure. He struggled to control his rebounds or the puck and that was an area the Caps needed to take advantage of, but couldn't.

Washington has one of the top offenses in the NHL and they are doing it largely with an offense that shoots off the pass. There's nothing wrong with that. Clearly it works. Making a goalie move back and forth and not allowing him to get set makes life difficult. Having said that, on nights like this where Halak is getting to everything he can see, you need dirty goals and that is one area in which the Caps are lacking.

What are dirty goals? The deflections (like Boyd's), the rebounds, the screens, the loose pucks in front. Those were the goals the Caps needed and, apart from Boyd's first-period tally, they couldn't get them. Ultiamtely the result was a win so it does not matter, but it seemed like the offense was a lot more difficult than it needed to be. There were goals to be had and opportunities in front of Halak. That is a tool the Caps need to add to their arsenal and use more often than they do.

Time to see more of Hathaway and Gudas

We are seeing more and more of Tom Wilson mixing things up lately and that's fine. It's what he does and he's very good at getting under opponents' skin. Right now it seems like we are seeing a lot of Wilson doing it and not enough of it from Garnet Hathaway or Radko Gudas. In a physical game like this one, I would like to see more of them mixing things up and less of it fall on Wilson who is a top-six, often top-line forward.

Turning point

Washington had 44 shots on goal in this game, 11 of which came in the third period. It looked like it was just not going to be the Caps' night thanks to Halak (again). Oshie, however, delivered with just 59 seconds remaining in regulation.

Play of the game

I am not a big fan of the shootout. The 3-on-3 overtime format is amazing and it seems like such a letdown when games go to the shootout. Having said that, this Jakub Vrana shootout goal was filthy.

This, however, is a close 2nd to the play of the game.

Evidently Marchand is only tough when it comes to Lars Eller.

Stat of the game

Braden Holtby has put the early season struggles behind him.

Quote of the game

Boyd on Vrana's shootout goal:

"Man, nasty. Unbelievable. I'm sure it will be all over the highlights tonight. Not only to go ahead in the shootout and put us ahead there and give us a chance to win with a [Holtby] stop, but to do it in that fashion, that's pretty cool."

Fan predictions

You guys may have overshot this one...just a bit.

Patrice Bergeron was out injured. Even so, David Pastrnak still got a goal.

Boyd didn't get two points, but he did get a goal.

Keep trying. You'll get there.