Brouwer picks dra­matic time to end long score­less spell

Come­back sparked by right wing’s two goals

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY STEPHEN WHYNO

Troy Brouwer had got­ten all too used to the puck bounc­ing off his stick. Or hit­ting the post, or an op­pos­ing goal­tender’s pads. Or miss­ing the net en­tirely.

Four­teen games the Washington Cap­i­tals right wing went with­out a goal, mak­ing his hat trick Jan. 14 seem like part of a vin­tage high­light reel. On Tues­day morn­ing, Caps play-by­play man Joe Ben­i­nati brought it all up.

“It’s frus­trat­ing. I was talk­ing to Joe B., to­day, this morn­ing, and he was fill­ing me in on all my lack of stats,” Brouwer said.

It’s not like the 26-yearold wasn’t plenty aware, too. But less than 12 hours later, he had more than enough on the stat sheet to make up for weeks of frus­tra­tion. Brouwer scored two goals in the final four min­utes of reg­u­la­tion to spur a 3-2 come­back vic­tory over the New York Is­lan­ders.

Re­ally, it was about time the big right wing put the puck in the net.

“I’ve been strug­gling a lit­tle bit lately, and it’s nice to break out in such dra­matic fash­ion,” Brouwer said. “Two big points by the team is what’s most im­por­tant.”

Brouwer is a team guy, more than will­ing to step up and talk about the Caps’ fail­ures when they get hu­mil­i­ated and happy to talk about teammates’ suc­cess. But his scor­ing slump, cou­pled with los­ing, was start­ing to wear on him.

But he got out of it in quite “dra­matic fash­ion,” NEW JER­SEY at CAP­I­TALS FRI­DAY:

TV: Ra­dio:

Still an­other day, a box la­beled “Olympic Anti-dop­ing Lab, Mon­treal, Que­bec, Canada,” could float ashore, and San­dler could say to Rawl­ings, “Ooohhh, this looks im­por­tant. We’d bet­ter hang on to this one and see that it gets de­liv­ered.”

Years pass. The Chicago Cubs win the World Se­ries. San­dler grows a beard longer than Jayson Werth’s. Fi­nally, fig­ur­ing res­cuers will never find him, he builds a raft — us­ing an au­then­tic, game-worn Prince Fielder jer­sey as a sail — and takes to the sea. In one tearful se­quence, Rawl­ings falls off the makeshift ves­sel and bobs away, never to be seen again. “Spald­ing never would have aban­doned me like this!” a neardeliri­ous San­dler wails (in an­other bril­liant ex­am­ple of prod­uct place­ment).

Mirac­u­lously, a ship crosses paths with our weather-beaten hero and re­turns him to civ­i­liza­tion. Once back at work, he sets out to de­liver the hand­ful of pack­ages he brought along on his voy­age, in­clud­ing the one ad­dressed to “Mon­treal, Que­bec, Canada.” When he ar­rives at the lab, a tech­ni­cian opens the box, in­spects the con­tents and smiles.

“Do you know what this is?” he asks San­dler. San­dler: “Not a clue.” Tech­ni­cian: “It’s Ryan Braun’s urine sam­ples from 2011.”

San­ders: “Ryan Braun’s urine sam­ples? Well, I’ll be darned.”

Tech­ni­cian: “Too bad he re­tired a year ago.” (Roll cred­its.) Just thought I’d have a lit­tle fun with base­ball’s lat­est ad­ven­ture in PED preven­tion. And why not? With the Braun foul-up, MLB’S much-bal­ly­hooed pro­gram has reached the level of farce. Who­ever heard of a pos­i­tive test be­ing in­val­i­dated be­cause it was done on a Satur­day and, ac­cord­ing to the col­lec­tor, none of the nearby Fedex out­lets would im­me­di­ately send the sam­ples to the lab?

And this wasn’t just any col­lec­tor, ap­par­ently; it was an ex­pe­ri­enced guy who claims to have han­dled more than 600 of these as­sign­ments and to have fol­lowed, in the case of the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers slug­ger, the stan­dard pro­to­col.

No­body wins in a sit­u­a­tion like this. Base­ball drug-test­ing comes across as slapdash and rid­den with loop­holes. The col­lec­tor is ridiculed to such an ex­tent that he feels obliged to de­fend him­self. And Braun, though he skirted sus­pen­sion, will al­ways have the cloud of doubt hov­er­ing over him. Did he or didn’t he?

About the only peo­ple who might come out ahead are the folks in Hol­ly­wood — that is, if they take my ad­vice and green light “Cast Away 2.” The screen­play is still a work in progress, but mark my words: It could be a block­buster.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cap­i­tals right wing Troy Brouwer ended a 14-game score­less streak Tues­day with two goals in Washington’s 3-2 win over the New York Is­lan­ders.

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