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Cardinals QB sidelined by rib cartilage damage

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Cardinals QB sidelined by rib cartilage damage

PHOENIX (AP) Kevin Kolb's star-crossed career in Arizona has taken another hit.

The Cardinals announced Tuesday that Kolb has rib cartilage damage and will be sidelined for ``an unspecified period of time.''

Kolb, who took over when starter John Skelton went down in the opener and directed the game-winning drive, had the team at 4-2 despite weak play by his offensive line that had him sacked 22 times in the last three games.

The job will revert to Skelton, who beat out Kolb in the preseason and just now is returning to health from a sprained left ankle. Skelton was active on Sunday for the first time since the injury.

Kolb also has a sprained sternoclavicular joint. Known commonly as the SC joint, it connects the breastbone to the collar bone.

The damage was discovered in an MRI on Monday. The exam did not show any fractures on the ribs or sternum, which would have been far more serious.

The injury comes with Arizona entering arguably the toughest stretch of its schedule.

Kolb will miss Sunday's game at Minnesota and most likely the Oct. 29 Monday night showdown at home against San Francisco. The team is at Green Bay on Nov. 4, then has a bye week before traveling to Atlanta.

Kolb was hurt trying to make it to the line of scrimmage on a busted play late in the Cardinals' 19-16 overtime loss to Buffalo on Sunday. He changed the call to a draw play at the line of scrimmage but running back William Powell didn't realize it. That left the ball in Kolb's hands. He tried to scramble but was tackled a yard shy of the line of scrimmage, the ball pinned between his ribs and the turf.

The play was not one of the five sacks Kolb sustained, one for a safety. Kolb has been sacked 22 times in the past three games - the last two losses after the team opened the season 4-0, the franchise's best start in 38 years.

In six games, Kolb has completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,169 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions.

It's the third time Kolb has been sidelined with an injury in 22 games since he arrived in Arizona.

Last season, in the Cardinals' sixth straight loss, he went out with a turf toe injury. With Skelton at the controls, Arizona won three of the next four. Kolb returned to lead the Cardinals to an overtime victory over Dallas. But the following week against San Francisco, he took a knee to the head on Arizona's first series and left with a concussion. Kolb didn't play the rest of the season as the erratic but resilient Skelton led the Cardinals to an 8-8 finish.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt declared an open competition between Skelton and Kolb and announced Skelton the winner just before the final week of practice leading to the season opener.

Skelton, though, had to be carted off the field with the sprained ankle in the fourth quarter against Seattle. Kolb, who entered the game to boos from the home crowd, directed the winning touchdown drive in a 20-16 victory.

A stunning win at New England, followed by victories over Philadelphia and Miami made Arizona one of just three NFL teams to start 4-0, but the Cardinals were dominated in a 17-3 Thursday night loss at St. Louis, with Kolb taking brutal hit after brutal hit, including nine sacks.

Last Sunday, in a typically wild Arizona home game, the Cardinals' Jay Feely kicked a franchise record 61-yard field goal to tie it, only to have his 38-yard attempt to win the game deflected. The ball hit the left upright and bounced out.

In overtime, Skelton threw an interception that set up Buffalo's game-winning kick.

Kolb completed 14 of 26 passes for 128 yards against the Bills. He threw for a touchdown and was intercepted once. The scrambler also rushed for 66 yards in 5 carries, 22 on the play before he was hurt.

Skelton, a 6-foot-6, strong-armed pocket passer, is 8-4 as a starter after being drafted in the fifth round out of Fordham. In his career, he has completed 52 percent of his passes for 2,769 yards and 13 touchdowns with 18 interceptions. In his brief time this year, Skelton is 16 of 38 for 194 yards and no TDs with two interceptions.

Like Kolb, Skelton is a Texan - Kolb from Stephenville and Skelton from El Paso.

With Skelton finally healthy, Whisenhunt would have been on the spot to officially name Kolb the team's starter or return the reins to Skelton. Kolb's injury made the decision for him.

Rookie Ryan Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State, is Skelton's backup.

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Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

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What winning the Stanley Cup would actually mean, a fan's perspective

What winning the Stanley Cup would actually mean, a fan's perspective

Just four more wins. It hardly seems possible.

For only the second time ever and for the first time in 20 years, the Capitals will be playing in the Stanley Cup Final. And they could actually win it.

They’re not there yet. The Vegas Golden Knights have cruised through the playoffs thus far and continue to shock the hockey community with their postseason run. Washington’s players need to think about how to beat Vegas, not what happens after.

But while the players cannot and should not look ahead, for fans, it’s hard not to. It’s hard not to dream about that moment when Gary Bettman hands the Stanley Cup over to Alex Ovechkin.

Winning the conference is always a huge achievement that should be celebrated, but this year is different than 1998’s run. Back in 1998, the Caps played against a Detroit Red Wings team that is one of the greatest teams in NHL history. They were the defending champions after sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers the year before. Washington suffered the same fate as the Flyers, losing in just four games.

This year is a battle between two more evenly matched teams. Picking the Caps to win this series is not outlandish or crazy at all. This year, they could actually do it.

So before the puck drops for Game 1 and all dreams are pushed aside for the realities of what may happen, allow a fan a chance to think about what seeing the Washington Capitals actually hoist the Stanley Cup would actually mean.

Breaking news: Washington is not Canada and the Capitals are not an original six team. Hockey is not ingrained in the culture of D.C. the way it is in Canadian cities or in places like Boston and Detroit. Unlike in Vegas where the success of the team in its inaugural season has caught the city by storm, the Capitals won only eight games in their first year. Eight wins doesn’t exactly help a team grow roots in the community.

If you’ve been a fan of the Capitals long enough, chances are you’ve seen some pretty tough times. There have been plenty of playoff disappointments in this team’s history even before the current era. There was also the rebuild that began before the lockout that saw a very bad team play in front of a half empty stadium for several years. And they would not have even gotten to that point without the “Save the Caps” campaign in 1982.

But through it all, that small group of hardcore fans kept coming back. Some may have wavered from time to time, but they came back because being a hockey fan is different than other sports.

It’s hard to be a sports fan in any city with an NFL team and not follow football. Football may not even be your sport, but there is almost on obligation to following it because coverage and interest in football is so prevalent. It’s hard to avoid.

You have to seek out hockey

Hockey at times has been viewed as more of a niche sport than mainstream. Before the age of Alex Ovechkin, if you were from Washington and you were following the Caps, it was because you loved both.

So why did those Caps fans keep coming back after so much heartbreak? Because despite all of the disappointing seasons we always walked away telling ourselves, this will just make it that much sweeter when they do win.

One day, it will all be worth it.

That’s why we watch sports, isn’t it? We watch with the knowledge that sometimes, our hearts will be broken but it’s OK because the good will always outweigh the bad. And the worse the bad times are, the better the good times will feel afterward.

We kept telling ourselves that for a long time, but admittedly some years were tougher to get past than others. It’s hard to keep believing when you’ve seen your rival beat you nine times out of 10 in the playoffs heading into this year’s postseason. It’s hard when a team cannot seem to overcome its playoff history despite having one of the best players of all-time on its roster.

When Ovechkin was drafted, the question we all asked ourselves was not whether he would bring a Cup to Washington, but how many? He brought new fans with him, he brought excitement with him, he brought validation with him…at least initially.

But with every passing year, doubt began to creep into our minds. The upset loss to Montreal in 2010 stung, but Ovechkin was still 24. There was still hope that one day, he would still win the Cup.

Now at 32 years old, many did not know what to expect from the Great 8 this year. When would decline start to show in his game?

Ovechkin is part of why we want the Cup so badly. We want to see the best player in this franchise’s history honored. We want to see the player who transformed hockey in Washington from niche sport to mainstream take his proper place in the sport’s history. No one wants to hear him described as one of the best players to never win a Cup because he should be remembered as one of the best players, period.

But that’s not all of it.

This is about all those times we told ourselves this would all be worth it someday. This is about how we used to cope with the sting of another postseason heartbreak by thinking about what it would feel like when it was finally our year. This is about how we stuck with the team when the stadium was half empty. This is about the blue jersey in our closet with the eagle on the front and the black one hanging next to it with the capitol building on the front. This is about all the 5, 12, 32 and 37 jerseys. This is about replacing Esa Tikkanen as our lasting Stanley Cup memory.

When the Washington Redskins have a rough year, those fans who can remember them think about those three Super Bowl wins. When the Washington Wizards fall short, those fans who can remember it think about the championship in 1978. Even if you’re too young to remember the Super Bowls or NBA championship, those banners still give your team a sense of validation. They have their little piece of history to be proud of.

That’s what this would mean. A Stanley Cup would be not just for the players, it would be for the fans who stuck it out through thick and thin, those fans who despite everything still supported their team. This win would be about the Capitals forever earning their spot in the heart of Washington sports alongside the Redskins and Wizards.

This would be about never having to tell ourselves again that someday all the love we pour into this team will pay off.

A Stanley Cup would mean finally getting to experience a championship and realizing, yeah, it was all worth it.

Let’s go Caps!

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Capital One Bank just made a Caps-themed update to its logo and we're here for it

Capital One Bank just made a Caps-themed update to its logo and we're here for it

Capital One is repping the district in a big way: by changing their logo to incorporate the Capitals' font and name. 

The new Capital One logo appears on the bank's websites and social media ahead of the Caps' Stanley Cup Final games, which begin on Memorial Day Monday in Vegas.

The McLean, Virginia, based bank recently purchased the naming rights to the Capitals' home arena, formerly known as "Verizon Center." And in the first year of its renaming, the Capitals have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years. Coincidence? 

We've seen a small, Northern Virginia town change its name to "Capitalsville," and now Capital One Bank is all-in for the Caps.

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