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Stanley Cup Playoff postcard: Washington

NHL.com's Tom Gulitti visits United States Marine Corps Memorial before Game 2

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Greetings from steamy Washington.

I know the calendar says it's April 30, but the heat wave here the past couple of days has made it feel more like June or July. The temperature reached 91 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, tying the D.C. record for April 29 from 1974.

That's not typical hockey weather, but two large air conditioning units hooked up with large yellow hoses from outside of Verizon Center helped keep the arena cool during the Pittsburgh Penguins' 6-2 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round.

By coincidence, thousands of demonstrators were in Washington on Saturday for the People's Climate March to raise awareness about climate change. I've been told you're not a true Washingtonian until you get stuck in the middle of a protest. 

That happened to me for the first time on April 15 when I was driving from the Capitals' practice facility in Arlington, Virginia, to Verizon Center for Game 2 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. That day it was the Tax March down Pennsylvania Ave.

After that experience prolonged my ride by about 30 minutes, I was a little better at navigating my way around the People's Climate March. You can't stop the wheels of democracy but they definitely move a little slower in D.C. traffic.

Although I've lived in Washington for more than a year now, I am not so jaded already that I can't appreciate the history around me. My drive to Capitals practices takes me past the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Marine Corps Memorial (aka Iwo Jima Memorial) multiple times each week. 

Most days, I have to be careful to keep my eyes on the road and not become distracted by my surroundings. I had probably driven past the Marine Corps Memorial more than 100 times without stopping before Saturday, when I decided to make an impromptu visit on my way to Verizon Center, partly to kill some time to avoid most of the People's Climate March.

Inspired by the Pulitzer Prize winning photo of six U.S. Marines raising a flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, the memorial is dedicated to all U.S. Marines who lost their lives in defense of the country since 1775. Standing in the heat taking photos with my iPhone I felt rather insignificant looking up at the towering bronze figures, which are 32 feet tall. The flagpole is 60 feet long.

I'll have to go back some day when I have more time to look at it more closely and visit nearby Arlington Cemetery. It won't be today. I'm headed to Pittsburgh later this afternoon for Game 3 between the Penguins and Capitals at PPG Paints Arena on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

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