Tag Archive | "capitals"

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Caps Beaten by Beasts of the East

Posted on 29 March 2014 by Ed Frankovic

The Boston Bruins are one heck of a hockey team.

The “Beasts of the East” are clearly the team to beat in the Eastern Conference this year and possibly the club with the best shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup given the easier route to the finals in the Eastern Conference. They don’t appear to have any weaknesses, and this is a club that lost top 4 defensemen Dennis Seidenberg earlier in the year to season ending injury. But they have lots of depth.

So with the Caps having to face a club that came in to Saturday’s matinee on a 13-0-1 streak one would think they would be ready to compete right out of the gate.

They weren’t.

They didn’t skate well.

Their passing was atrocious and they didn’t pay the price to win the one on one battles in the first 30 minutes.

If not for Braden Holtby’s goaltending, a 3-0 deficit could’ve been at least six or seven. #70 was really good in the crease, but his teammates didn’t help him out.

You can’t do that when your playoff chances are on the line and especially not against a club as strong as Boston.

Washington’s line of Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, and Joel Ward had their usual strong game and they scored late in period two after Mike Green, who was another bright spot, made a great rush up the ice. The Capitals then threw the kitchen sink at Bruins goalie Chad Johnson (31 saves) in the third period, but he was too good and then a terrible charging call on Alex Ovechkin took away any momentum the Caps had built to that stage.

The Bruins would score on that tally, and they scored on one other power play to go 2 for 4 on the game while Washington was 0 for 3.

Boston’s fast start and the special teams were essentially the difference in the game.

Make no mistake about it, the Bruins deserved to win this contest. They played better over the course of the 60 minutes.

But anyone who thinks that the officiating in this contest was decent is smoking some serious stuff. I’ve tried to give the zebras more of a break this season and for the most part, they’ve been better overall. However, the job that Tim Peel and Frederick L’Ecuyer did today in a critical game for Washington was disgraceful.

Of Boston’s four power plays, three were not even penalties. John Erskine’s delay of game hit the glass before exiting the rink (shown clearly on replay), Jason Chimera’s slashing call was a joke and at worst, Johnny Boychuk should’ve gone off with him if that stuff is going to be called. Finally, as mentioned above, the Ovechkin charge was an absolute mirage of a penalty.

In addition, during the Caps power play, right before the Ovechkin “charge” call, a clear trip on the Gr8 was missed that would’ve put Washington on a 5 on 3 advantage.

Simply put, Peel and L’Ecuyer should not get paid for their work today.

Also, why are some of these calls not reviewable by replay? The NFL has it and so does NCAA college basketball. Pucks going over the glass is an easily reviewable event!

But enough on the zebras and league policy, because complaining about those things is pretty much like talking to a brick wall.

This was an important game for Washington and they didn’t come out with the intensity they needed against a super Boston team.

Once again, make no mistake about it, the Bruins deserved the win.

The Caps do go 2-1-2 during a stretch that looked nearly impossible a few weeks ago, so they can take pride in this run against some of the NHL elite.

But now they need to get down to business and find ways to win down the stretch. They have eight games left and likely need 12 or 13 points to get in the post season dance.

Tomorrow night in Nashville against the Predators they desperately need a win.

Coming out with intensity from the opening draw, and getting pucks and bodies to the front of the opponents’ net like Caps Comcast analyst Alan May repeatedly calls for, would be a really good way to start.

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Season Saving Win For Caps?

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Season Saving Win For Caps?

Posted on 08 March 2014 by Ed Frankovic

For over 40 minutes on Saturday night, it sure looked like the Washington Capitals were headed for a fourth straight loss and about to sustain a serious blow to their playoff chances.

The Caps looked listless for the third straight contest and couldn’t find a way to get a goal, extending their scoreless streak to over 100 minutes. Making things worse was they were playing a strong defensive team in Phoenix with one of the top goalies in the NHL in Mike Smith.

But suddenly, a team that wasn’t working very hard to overcome some lineup holes, started doing the little things right, like getting pucks and bodies to the net.

Karl Alzner scored a seeing eye goal from the blueline that only finds the back of the cage because Troy Brouwer and Jay Beagle went to the front of the net and took their defenders with them. Keith Yandle managed to screen his own keeper with 10:15 to go and suddenly the Caps and the Verizon Center had life for the first time since before Dmitry Orlov’s awful hit last Sunday.

Joel Ward, Jason Chimera, and Brooks Laich then outworked the Coyotes down low and #25 found Brooksie all alone in front of the cage and he put it by Smith to tie things up just 32 seconds later.

The Caps instantly became a new team. Orlov then drew a penalty to put Washington on the power play and when Troy Brouwer potted the rebound of a great Nicklas Backstrom shot, the Capitals grabbed a 3-2 lead.

Then, instead of sitting back, Washington became an even more energized squad and dominated the last five minutes of regulation to salt away a huge victory.

Jaroslav Halak notched 31 saves to earn his first victory in his Caps debut and he can thank referee Tim Peel for a quick whistle that disallowed a Phoenix goal in period one. But that’s the breaks of the game, a Backstrom shot that appeared to be a goal last Sunday against Philly didn’t count and hurt Washington in that one, so it looks like things eventually evened up.

Halak was shaky early on and probably wanted at least one of the two goals back, but his save on Antoine Vermette in the third period on a one on one was absolutely a must and a key reason why the Capitals were able to overcome the two goal deficit. I’ve been saying all season long that goaltending is not the major issue for the Caps and I stand by it. Halak was good, but defensive mistakes and lapses in focus continue to plague this Washington club and is the primary reason they are on the outside looking in at the postseason, right now.

But that’s a story for another day, the Capitals are alive and still in the hunt after a huge rally over a good Phoenix team.

They started skating and doing the simple things and were rewarded.

The question now is can they keep this energy level up on Monday when they start a critical home and home with the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Washington gained some much needed positive vibes and confidence tonight that they need to carry into Monday’s tilt.

They will also likely get newly signed Evgeny Kuznetsov (2010 Caps 1st round draft choice) in the lineup for the game against the Pens. “Kuzy” will wear #92 and likely skate on the second line. He arrived in DC today and signed his entry level contract (two years) with the Capitals this afternoon. He will burn up that first year in less than 20 games and then will have another season left, but General Manager George McPhee called that aspect of the deal, “worth it.”

It’s hard to argue that because the Caps need skilled offensive players and Kuznetsov (just 21 years old), who carried the Russian squad to World Juniors Gold in 2011, has the potential to really improve the offense. But coming to North America and playing on the smaller rinks will be an adjustment. He is not “a savior” for the Caps season, but make no mistake about it, this club needs forward help with Laich playing through serious pain and Mikhail Grabovski still on the shelf due to a wonky ankle.

The road is not easy for the Caps as they have the hardest schedule in the NHL in their remaining 17 games, but rallying tonight and inking Kuzentsov at least gives them a fighting chance to pull off a seventh straight playoffs appearance.

Notes: Washington once again lost the face off battle for the fifth straight contest, 33-26. Losing draws makes it very difficult to win the puck possession battle. The Capitals will need to improve in this area if they are going to get on a run and make the playoffs…John Carlson led the Caps in ice time at 23:50 and he had an assist on the game winning tally.

 

 

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Bovada gives Caps 40/1 odds to win title, Wizards 100/1

Posted on 07 March 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

NHL Odds

Odds to win the 2014 Stanley Cup (Teams in red have longer odds from last month, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)     

                                                Odd on 2/4/14               Current

St. Louis Blues                          6/1                                5/1

Chicago Blackhawks                 11/2                              13/2

Pittsburgh Penguins                  6/1                                13/2

Anaheim Ducks                         7/1                                15/2

Boston Bruins                           9/1                                15/2

San Jose Sharks                       10/1                              10/1

Los Angeles Kings                    16/1                              12/1

Colorado Avalanche                  20/1                              20/1

New York Rangers                     25/1                              20/1

Montreal Canadiens                   33/1                              25/1

Toronto Maple Leafs                 28/1                              25/1

Tampa Bay Lightning                 20/1                              28/1

Minnesota Wild                         40/1                              33/1

Philadelphia Flyers                    25/1                              33/1

Detroit Red Wings                     33/1                              40/1

Washington Capitals                  40/1                              40/1

Columbus Blue Jackets             40/1                              50/1

Dallas Stars                              75/1                              50/1

NBA Odds

“After looking at the rest of the schedule for the Philadelphia 76ers, it is possible that they will not be favored in any games for the rest of the regular season. We currently have them projected as small underdogs for their home game against Utah on Saturday. Seeing as Utah is probably one of the weaker teams left on their schedule, and they are still not favorites to win, we think the Sixers may be barking the rest of the season.”

Kevin Bradley, Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager

 

Will the Philadelphia 76ers win another game during the 2013-2104 Regular Season?

Yes                  1/5

No                    3/1

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Championship

Miami Heat                                11/5

Indiana Pacers                          5/2

Oklahoma City Thunder              15/4

San Antonio Spurs                    11/1

Los Angeles Clippers                12/1

Houston Rockets                      16/1

Golden State Warriors               20/1

Portland Trailblazers                  20/1

Chicago Bulls                            50/1

Brooklyn Nets                           66/1

Dallas Mavericks                       66/1

Memphis Grizzlies                     66/1

Toronto Raptors                        66/1

Phoenix Suns                            75/1

Washington Wizards                  100/1

Atlanta Hawks                           250/1

Cleveland Cavaliers                   250/1

Detroit Pistons                          250/1

Minnesota Timberwolves            250/1

New York Knicks                       250/1

Charlotte Bobcats                     500/1

Boston Celtics                          750/1

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Eastern Conference

Miami Heat                                10/13

Indiana Pacers                          11/10

Chicago Bulls                            25/1

Toronto Raptors                        28/1

Brooklyn Nets                           33/1

Washington Wizards                  50/1

Atlanta Hawks                           100/1

New York Knicks                       100/1

Cleveland Cavaliers                   125/1

Detroit Pistons                          125/1

Charlotte Bobcats                     200/1

Boston Celtics                          400/1

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Western Conference

Oklahoma City Thunder              5/4

San Antonio Spurs                    9/2

Los Angeles Clippers                11/2

Houston Rockets                      15/2

Golden State Warriors               9/1

Portland Trailblazers                  9/1

Memphis Grizzlies                     28/1

Dallas Mavericks                       33/1

Phoenix Suns                            40/1

Minnesota Timberwolves            100/1

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Atlantic Division

Toronto Raptors                        1/4

Brooklyn Nets                           5/2

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder              1/7

Portland Trailblazers                  4/1

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Pacific Division

Los Angeles Clippers                1/7

Golden State Warriors               9/2

Phoenix Suns                            15/1

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Southwest Division

San Antonio Spurs                    1/5

Houston Rockets                      3/1

 

2013-14 NBA MVP

Kevin Durant (OKC)                   1/3

LeBron James (MIA)                  2/1

 

2013-14 Rookie of the Year      

Victor Oladipo (ORL)                 5/7

Michael Carter-Williams (PHI)      1/1

 

Odds to make Playoffs

Will the Atlanta Hawks make the playoffs in the 2013-14 season?

Yes      1/6

No        4/1

 

Will the Detroit Pistons make the playoffs in the 2013-14 season?

Yes      4/1

No        1/6

 

Will the Dallas Mavericks make the playoffs in the 2013-14 season?

Yes      1/4

No        5/2

 

Will the Phoenix Suns make the playoffs in the 2013-14 season?

Yes      5/7

No        1/1

 

Will the Memphis Grizzlies make the playoffs in the 2013-14 season?

Yes      1/1

No        5/7

 

Will the Minnesota Timberwolves make the playoffs in the 2013-14 season?

Yes      2/1

No        1/3

2013-14 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship – Odds to Win (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)         

      Odds on 2/17/14           Current Odds

Florida                          6/1                                5/1

Arizona                         9/1                                8/1

Kansas                         15/2                              8/1

Wichita State                 14/1                              9/1

Duke                            9/1                                10/1

Syracuse                      6/1                                10/1

Michigan State              17/2                              12/1

Louisville                      12/1                              14/1

Virginia                         25/1                              14/1

Kentucky                      14/1                              16/1

Creighton                      25/1                              20/1

Wisconsin                     25/1                              20/1

Michigan                       22/1                              22/1

Oklahoma State            33/1                              22/1

North Carolina               50/1                              25/1

Villanova                       28/1                              28/1

Iowa State                     40/1                              40/1

Ohio State                    40/1                              40/1

Cincinnati                      40/1                              50/1

Connecticut                   50/1                              50/1

Iowa                             25/1                              50/1

San Diego State            33/1                              50/1

St. Louis                       40/1                              50/1

UCLA                            66/1                              50/1

VCU                             75/1                              66/1

Oklahoma                     150/1                            75/1

Pittsburgh                     66/1                              75/1

Memphis                       100/1                            100/1

New Mexico                  150/1                            100/1

SMU                             100/1                            100/1

Texas                           50/1                              100/1

UMass                          150/1                            100/1

Oregon                         150/1                            150/1

Xavier                           200/1                            150/1

Arizona State                150/1                            200/1

George Washington       200/1                            200/1

Gonzaga                       100/1                            200/1

Kansas State                150/1                            200/1

Stanford                       300/1                            200/1

Tennessee                    150/1                            200/1

LSU                              150/1                            200/1

Baylor                           250/1                            300/1

California                      200/1                            300/1

Colorado                      500/1                            300/1

Florida State                 250/1                            500/1

Georgetown                  250/1                            500/1

Harvard                         250/1                            500/1

Indiana                          250/1                            500/1

Minnesota                     250/1                            500/1

Missouri                        250/1                            500/1

Ole Miss                       300/1                            Off the Board   

Arkansas                      500/1                            Off the Board   

Clemson                       500/1                            Off the Board   

 

 

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Caps Trades Are Steps in Right Direction, But More Are Needed

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Caps Trades Are Steps in Right Direction, But More Are Needed

Posted on 04 March 2014 by Ed Frankovic

Caps General Manager George McPhee made some good moves on Tuesday acquiring LW Dustin Penner, RW Chris Brown, D Rotislav Klesla, and a 4th round pick while dealing out a 4th round pick and LW Martin Erat.

But is it enough to put this team in the playoffs come mid April?

Right now my answer, as it was after Sunday’s painful loss to Philadelphia, is still no.

Penner, a two time Stanley Cup winner (2007 Ducks and 2012 Kings), is a big left wing that can score. He brings a dimension to the left side of the lineup that the Capitals just don’t have right now. The 6′ 4″ power forward had 11 points in 20 games with Los Angeles during their Stanley Cup run in 2012 playing a top six role. He will be expected to play in a top six position with Washington down the stretch. Penner is an unrestricted free agent and currently makes $2M. The winger, who at times has been out of shape and not motivated, should be focused on proving himself since he needs a new contract come July 1st. Simply put, for a 4th round pick, this was a good trade and a no brainer despite the fact that he is not a fast skater.

As for the Erat deal, just moving his $4.5M salary cap hit this year and next season is a bonus. The Caps do take on Klesla’s salary with the latest CBA, even though he is going directly to Hershey. The 31 year old Czech defensemen, who has split time at the NHL and AHL level this season, carries a salary cap hit of $2.975M but is an unrestricted free agent after this campaign. Klesla, a former top 5 draft pick (#4 overall in 2000 NHL Entry Draft), has struggled of late and was not happy in Phoenix (he was on waivers in the fall). He does not have good wheels, so it appears that in order for McPhee to unload his problem child in Erat, he had to take on some baggage from another club.

Brown, 23, is an interesting prospect. He had 29 goals in his first season (68 games) in the AHL in 2012-13, but he only has 14 tallies in 51 games this year. The University of Michigan product also played for the US National Under 17 and 18 teams. He’s a 3rd line type, a big right winger who can skate in an organization that is loaded on that side.

So did the Capitals help themselves today?

Yes, it wasn’t hard to do when you get Penner for a mid round draft pick and you get out from under Erat’s remaining salary cap hits for this year and next. But there are still issues with this roster. There remains an overabundance of right wingers and some gaping holes on defense. The third pair is a big problem area now so McPhee needs to either land a top 4 defenseman to bump Dmitry Orlov down to the 3rd pair or upgrade so that Connor Carrick and John Erskine aren’t every game players.

To me, it makes sense to move one of your right wingers so that you can use salary cap dollars elsewhere to improve the defense. That would likely mean Troy Brouwer or Joel Ward would need to be dealt, which would bump Tom Wilson up into an expanded role. Moves to that effect would further balance the roster and also position the Capitals to make even more changes this summer to get back to being a Stanley Cup contender.

Currently, they are a middle of the pack club hoping to climb into the playoffs and go a round or two. Let’s make no mistake about that, hockey is a business and making the playoffs has a huge impact financially. That’s why I believe McPhee, who reportedly is in the last year of his contract, is not done making moves and will do more before Wednesday’s 3 pm trade deadline.

This organization wants to badly make the playoffs. Money and likely jobs are on the line. We saw the desperation to make the post season last year when they traded Filip Forsberg for Erat and Michael Latta. It was a win now type of move that ultimately backfired. They were focused on the short term and wanted another body due to the uncertainty surrounding Brooks Laich’s injury. The truth is, they would have still been able to make the playoffs without Erat in a weak Southeast Division.

This spring, it is not as easy with the new division configuration. Somehow the Caps need to improve enough to pass either the Flyers or the Rangers, and Columbus too. Philadelphia dominated the Caps in some important puck possession statistics on Washington’s home ice last Sunday. Add in that the Capitals upcoming schedule is rated one of the hardest in the league and making the playoffs is going to be very tough.

So the Capitals improved their position today and helped their future, but it doesn’t appear to be enough to secure a playoff position.

That’s way I say to look for more moves from the Caps on Wednesday.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I will be on with Drew Forrester on WNST 1570 AM Baltimore talking Caps hockey at 7:45 AM on Wednesday. Listen Live at WNST.NET

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 04 March 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-ACC Tournament: Maryland vs. Georgia Tech/Virginia/Boston College (Friday 8pm from Greensboro, NC live on Comcast SportsNet); Boxing: Canelo Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo (Saturday 9pm from Las Vegas live on Showtime PPV); Mixed Martial Arts: UFC Fight Night-Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa (Saturday 3pm from London live on UFC Fight Pass); Tennis: ATP Tour WTA Tour BNP Paribas Open (Thursday-Monday 2pm from Indian Wells, CA live on Tennis Channel)

10. Jim Breuer (Friday 8pm 9:30 Club); Amy Schumer (Thursday 8pm Stephens Hall Towson University); Tony Woods (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge (Saturday Sandy Point State Park); 300: Rise of an Empire“, “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” out in theaters (Friday); 12 Years a Slave” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

Matthew McConaughey won an Academy Award. Which means we can’t be far from Jim Breuer getting his.

Also Amy Schumer returns to her alma mater. She’s a really polite gal-you should introduce her to your mom.

9. Juicy J (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head Live); Stir Fried feat. John Popper/Cara Kelly & The Tall Tale (Saturday 8pm 8×10 Club); Stephen Kellogg (Wednesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Schoolboy Q (Friday 8pm & 11pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Vertical Horizon/Tonic/Dishwalla (Wednesday 7:30pm Howard Theatre); Bob Mould (Wednesday 7:30pm 9:30 Club); Bear Hands (Tuesday 8:30pm DC9); J. Roddy Walston & The Business (Tuesday 6:30pm U Street Music Hall); Lorde (Friday 8pm Echostage), David Guetta (Saturday & Sunday 9pm Echostage); Moody Blues (Monday 8pm Strathmore); Pharrell Williams “G I R L”, Drive-By Truckers “English Oceans” and Rick Ross “Mastermind” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Have you thought about the fact that John Popper has been in your life for two decades now?

Yes, I still smile when I hear a Vertical Horizon tune. So sue me.

I’ve been playing the Bear Hands tune a lot as a rejoiner on the show recently. You know it from the times you’ve emailed to say “what’s the name of that song?”

J. Roddy is amazing. You should probably already know that.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 25 February 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: MISL-Baltimore Blast @ Pennsylvania Roar (Sunday 4:05pm from Reading, PA live on YouTube); Women’s College Basketball: Virginia Tech @ Maryland (Sunday 2pm Comcast Center); Boxing: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Bryan Vera (Saturday 9:45pm from San Antonio live on HBO)

10. David Koechner (Saturday 9pm Black Cat); Eddie Griffin (Friday & Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); Thor: The Dark World“, “Gravity” and “Nebraska” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); Non-Stop” out in theaters (Friday); Canton Irish Stroll (Saturday 1pm Canton Square)

I find David Koechner to be a humorous individual.

Also, I might like this t-shirt, you.

9. Eagles (Saturday 8pm Verizon Center); Robin Thicke (Thursday 8pm Patriot Center), Avett Brothers/Old Crow Medicine Show (Friday 8pm Patriot Center); Young The Giant (Tuesday 9pm Rams Head Live), ZZ Ward (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live); Nelly’s Echo (Saturday 8pm 8×10 Club); Los Lobos (Friday 6:30pm & 9:30pm Rams Head on Stage); Flogging Molly (Friday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Shaggy (Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Brett Dennen (Wednesday 7pm 9:30 Club), St. Vincent (Saturday 8pm Sunday 7pm 9:30 Club); Talib Kweli (Sunday 9pm Howard Theatre); Band of Horses (Thursday 6:30pm Lincoln Theatre), Josh Ritter (Friday & Saturday 7pm Lincoln Theatre); Beck “Morning Phase” and The Fray “Helios” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I wish I could tell you I’d be in Fairfax Friday night. I fully support this tour.

Not familiar with OCMS? You probably know more about them than you think.

Couple of good shows in Charm City this week as well.

ZZ Ward is just so marvelous.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Bovada gives Ovechkin 8/1 odds to MVP of Olympics

Posted on 17 February 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

2014 Olympic Ice Hockey – Men’s Gold Medal    

Canada                                                 7/4

USA                                                       11/4

Russia                                                   16/5

Sweden                                                5/1

Finland                                                  11/1

Czech Republic                                 25/1

Switzerland                                          25/1

Slovakia                                               100/1

Norway                                                 500/1

Latvia                                                    500/1

Austria                                                  500/1

Slovenia                                               500/1

 

2014 Olympic Ice Hockey – Men’s Olympic MVP

Sidney Crosby (CAN)                            11/2

Phil Kessel (USA)                                  11/2

Pavel Datsyuk (RUS)                             13/2

Drew Doughty (CAN)                             15/2

Alex Ovechkin (RUS)                             8/1

Henrik Lundqvist (SWE)                         10/1

Carey Price (CAN)                                 10/1

Jonathan Quick (USA)                           10/1

Erik Karlsson (SWE)                              12/1

Semyon Varlamov (RUS)                       12/1

T.J. Oshie (USA)                                   15/1

Tuukka Rask (FIN)                                 15/1

James van Riemsdyk (USA)                   15/1

John Tavares (CAN)                               20/1

Jonas Hiller (SUI)                                   25/1

Ondrej Pavelec (CZE)                            40/1

Olli Jokinen (FIN)                                   50/1

Tomas Plekanec (CZE)                          50/1

 

2014 Olympic Ice Hockey – Men’s Top Goalscorer          

Michael Grabner (AUT)                           5/4

Phil Kessel (USA)                                  7/4

Drew Doughty (CAN)                             13/2

Jeff Carter (CAN)                                   8/1

Alex Ovechkin (RUS)                             9/1

Evgeni Malkin (RUS)                              11/1

Iilya Kovalchuk (RUS)                            11/1

Erik Karlsson (SWE)                              12/1

Sidney Crosby (CAN)                            20/1

Joe Pavelski (USA)                               30/1

Ryan Getzlaf (CAN)                               30/1

2013-14 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship – Odds to Win (Teams in red have longer odds , teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)         

      Odds on 1/7/14             Current Odds

Florida                          20/1                              6/1

Syracuse                      10/1                              6/1

Kansas                         15/2                              15/2

Michigan State              6/1                                17/2

Arizona                         11/2                              9/1

Duke                            12/1                              9/1

Louisville                      10/1                              12/1

Kentucky                      7/1                                14/1

Wichita State                 28/1                              14/1

Michigan                       50/1                              22/1

Creighton                      66/1                              25/1

Iowa                             40/1                              25/1

Virginia                         100/1                            25/1

Wisconsin                     16/1                              25/1

Villanova                       40/1                              28/1

Oklahoma State            10/1                              33/1

San Diego State            50/1                              33/1

Cincinnati                      100/1                            40/1

Iowa State                     50/1                              40/1

Ohio State                    12/1                              40/1

St. Louis                       100/1                            40/1

Connecticut                   50/1                              50/1

North Carolina               25/1                              50/1

Texas                           200/1                            50/1

Pittsburgh                     40/1                              66/1

UCLA                            40/1                              66/1

VCU                             66/1                              75/1

Gonzaga                       66/1                              100/1

Memphis                       50/1                              100/1

SMU                             Off the Board                100/1

Arizona State                300/1                            150/1

Kansas State                150/1                            150/1

New Mexico                  150/1                            150/1

Oklahoma                     150/1                            150/1

Oregon                         50/1                              150/1

Tennessee                    150/1                            150/1

UMass                          100/1                            150/1

California                      500/1                            200/1

George Washington       200/1                            200/1

LSU                              150/1                            200/1

Xavier                           200/1                            200/1

Baylor                           75/1                              250/1

Florida State                 150/1                            250/1

Georgetown                  100/1                            250/1

Harvard                         200/1                            250/1

Indiana                          150/1                            250/1

Minnesota                     200/1                            250/1

Missouri                        66/1                              250/1

Ole Miss                       250/1                            300/1

Stanford                       300/1                            300/1

Arkansas                      500/1                            500/1

Clemson                       300/1                            500/1

Colorado                      50/1                              500/1

Alabama                       500/1                            Off the Board   

Boise State                  250/1                            Off the Board   

Boston College             1000/1                          Off the Board

Butler                            200/1                            Off the Board   

BYU                             500/1                            Off the Board   

Colorado State              1000/1                          Off the Board

Davidson                      2000/1                          Off the Board

Dayton                         250/1                            Off the Board   

Fordham                       1000/1                          Off the Board

George Mason              500/1                            Off the Board
Georgia                        1000/1                          Off the Board

Georgia Tech                1000/1                          Off the Board

Illinois                           150/1                            Off the Board   

La Salle                        1000/1                          Off the Board

Marquette                     250/1                            Off the Board   

Maryland                       500/1                            Off the Board   

Miami Florida                500/1                            Off the Board   

Northwestern                 1000/1                          Off the Board

Notre Dame                  250/1                            Off the Board   

NC State                       300/1                            Off the Board   

Purdue                          500/1                            Off the Board   

Rhode Island                 1000/1                          Off the Board

Richmond                     1000/1                          Off the Board

South Carolina              1000/1                          Off the Board

St. Bonaventure            1000/1                          Off the Board

St. Joe’s                       1000/1                          Off the Board

St. John’s                     300/1                            Off the Board   

St. Mary’s                     300/1                            Off the Board   

Temple                         1000/1                          Off the Board

Texas A&M                   300/1                            Off the Board   

UNLV                            500/1                            Off the Board   

USC                             500/1                            Off the Board   

Vanderbilt                     500/1                            Off the Board   

Virginia Tech                 500/1                            Off the Board   

Wake Forest                 300/1                            Off the Board

Washington                   500/1                            Off the Board   

Washington State          1000/1                          Off the Board

West Virginia                 500/1                            Off the Board

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 04 February 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-Pitt @ Maryland (Thursday 7pm Comcast Center), Clemson @ Maryland (Sunday 2pm Comcast Center); Soccer: MISL-Baltimore Blast @ St. Louis Ambush (Thursday 8:35pm from St. Charles, MO live on YouTube), Baltimore Blast @ Missouri Comets (Sunday 4:10pm from Independence, MO live on YouTube); Russia @ Team USA Women (Saturday 3:30pm from Boca Raton, FL live on ussoccer.com)

10. Timonium Motorcycle Show (Friday-Sunday Timonium Fairgrounds); Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling (Thursday 8pm Baltimore Comedy Factory); Jim Norton (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); Motor Trend International Auto Show (Thursday-Sunday Baltimore Convention Center); Cecily Strong (Sunday 8pm Stevenson University); Dallas Buyers’ Club” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); The Monuments Men” and “The Lego Movie” out in theaters (Friday)

Everyone is saying The LEGO Movie is awesome. As awesome as this LEGO version of M&T Bank Stadium?

Also…Cecily Strong rules.

9. Steve Earle (Monday 7:30pm Rams Head on Stage); Karmin (Friday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Railroad Earth (Friday & Saturday 7pm 9:30 Club); Travis Tritt (Wednesday 7:30pm Birchmere), Vanessa Carlton (Thursday 7:30pm Birchmere), Arlo Guthrie (Friday & Saturday 7:30pm Birchmere), Jeffrey Osborne (Sunday 7:30pm Birchmere); The Wild Feathers/Saints of Valory (Tuesday 7pm U Street Music Hall); Bobby McFerrin/Chick Corea (Saturday 8pm Clarence Smith Center); Lauryn Hill (Sunday 8pm Lincoln Theatre), Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (Monday 6:30pm Lincoln Theatre); John Butler Trio “Flesh & Blood” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

The Wild Feathers are the most important on this or any list.

Saints of Valory ain’t too bad either.

Lauryn Hill is amazing. But may it be known: I still have not forgiven her mother’s character from Sister Act 2.

I dig John Butler Trio. I’d kinda like to claim them for America if that’s still an option.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ovechkin OT Goal Gives Caps Super Bowl Sunday Win

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Ovechkin OT Goal Gives Caps Super Bowl Sunday Win

Posted on 02 February 2014 by Ed Frankovic

Alexander Ovechkin, who shanked a one timer near the end of the first period that would’ve given the Capitals a 4-1 lead, made no mistake when given a second chance in overtime. The Gr8 took John Carlson’s perfect pass on a 4 on 3 power play and lasered it by Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to give Washington a 6-5, OT victory on Super Bowl Sunday.

The win improved the Caps to 25-22-9 (59 points) and puts them just a point out of a playoff spot.

This was one of those games that fans love and coaches mostly despise. There was lots of end to end action and numerous mistakes, which drives coaches nuts. But from a viewing perspective, it was exciting.

From a Caps angle, this game had several things to like.

First, the effort was superb from the outset. Washington, after getting thoroughly dominated in puck possession on Friday in Motown, owned the biscuit for the first half of this contest in racing to a 4-2 lead. The Capitals are scoring goals again because they are moving their feet and paying the price to get to the front of the opposition net. They are finally owning that portion of the ice and they are getting the gritty and greasy goals necessary to win. Joel Ward (2 goals, 1 assist) and Jason Chimera (1 goal, 2 assists) were the kings of that on Sunday.

Second, Washington’s forecheck generated turnovers and Martin Erat and Nicklas Backstrom’s pressure in the offensive zone directly led to a nice top shelf goal by Troy Brouwer that put the Capitals up 5-4 early in period three.

Third, the power play is clicking again and making life miserable for the opposition. The Wings tried to take Ovechkin away on the 5 on 4 and all Coach Adam Oates and company did was adjust and get two power play markers in what pretty much became 4 on 3 situations with the Gr8 blanketed. Ward tallied from the slot and John Carlson scored with a bomb from the point. Ovechkin’s game winner was on a real 4 on 3, so the Caps were 3 for 6 with the man advantage on Sunday.

Fourth, puck possession is easier to gain when you win the face off battle. Washington was 46-30 on draws and that forced Detroit to chase the Caps to try to get the biscuit for much of the game. Jay Beagle went 14-5 from the dot.

Finally, Michal Neuvirth, despite giving up five goals, was really good in net again. His pad save on Henrik Zetterberg (3 assists) with the game tied in the third period allowed the Caps to win this contest. Neuvy is in a groove and he told me afterwards he’s playing the best he has been all season. He feels comfortable and focused in the cage and he stated that the coaches have only made minor changes to his game, which allows him to play the way he’s always played.

So why did the Capitals do so many good things and still need overtime to win?

Well, let’s start with untimely penalties. Connor Carrick’s cross check in the opening frame turned a 2-0 lead into a 2-1 contest in just nine seconds. Worse though was Brouwer’s neutral zone slash with the score 4-2 late in period two. That is a killer infraction and one that gave Detroit new life when the Capitals were close to putting a stranglehold on this tilt. Brouwer has to be smarter in that situation as his penalty was selfish and lazy. I imagine Troy would be the first to tell you he hosed up there (and he did score a big goal in period three to help make up for it).

Next, the Caps defensive zone continues to have issues, particularly in coverage. After the game I asked Oates why they are giving up so many goals when it appears they have players in position to defend. The bench boss said it is simply a case of not winning the “one on one battles.” He’s right about that and it is a pattern we’ve seen too often this season. So is it a question of a lack of focus or an ability issue in their own end? My take is it is a combination of both, but I put more of it on the talent side as Washington’s defense is very inexeperienced after Carlson and Karl Alzner (Mike Green missed his second straight game due to injury).

Bottom line is this team is going to have to work super hard at both ends to overcome the defensive zone issues they have in order to climb their way into post season position. They also need to be more self disciplined by staying out of the box.

Last year the Capitals went on an amazing run down the stretch to make the playoffs by bringing a great effort each night and cutting down on penalties. That run came after a tough loss in Pittsburgh last March where the Caps played well and fell, 2-1. The Capitals fed off of the positives of that difficult loss. But this season, Chimera admitted that the loss to the Penguins on January 15th, a game in which the Caps carried the play, but lost, 4-3, took some time to recover from. Their efforts after that loss were not good for a few games until they turned the corner with a 5-0 win in Montreal.

Since Montreal (outside of the Columbus loss), Washington has improved offensively by getting more bodies and pucks to the net, so that is encouraging and they’ll need to keep that up in order to win their last three games against the Islanders, Jets, and Devils before the Olympic break.

All three tilts are at the Verizon Center and if the Capitals bring the effort they brought on Sunday, then they should be able to gain some ground in the Eastern Conference this week.

 

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What is Wrong in DC? Evaluating the Current State of the Caps

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What is Wrong in DC? Evaluating the Current State of the Caps

Posted on 23 January 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

 

The Washington Capitals are currently on a six game losing streak as they head into a five game road trip that starts Friday. They currently sit in sixth place in the Metropolitan division and the fans in DC are starting to become frustrated. The fans deserve to be, as the team had possession of second place within the division for such a long stretch during the season, due to the rest of the division struggling early. Now that the Caps have struggled, losing 13 of the last 17 games, they have let the rest of the competition not only catch up, but surpass them in the standings. A season that looked like they were going to be in the playoffs, now looks uncertain as they could risk missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years. So what has gone wrong?

Alex Ovechkin is the scapegoat of criticism by the media, especially when it comes to the post season. The experts always criticize Ovechkin for “not showing up” in the playoffs. You can say what you want about that, but the numbers prove he does more often than not. In his career, he has never made it past the second round into the conference finals. He gets the bulk of the criticism for it, but his surrounding cast has never been the best either. This season is a fine example of just that.

It was evident in Tuesday night’s loss to the Ottawa Senators that the rest of the team struggles to score. In their current six-game losing streak, the team has only scored seven goals; Ovechkin has three of those seven. Jason Chimera has two, Brooks Laich and John Carlson have one. As you look at the top six, where is the production you would expect out of players like Troy Brouwer, Marcus Johansson and even Nicklas Backstrom? Referring to production, the Capitals have scored 134 goals this season as a team. Ovechkin has 35 goals, which equates to 26% of the goal scoring for the team. That is a quarter of the offense to just one player, not one line, one player. He has 35 goals and the next leading scorer on the team is Joel Ward with 13 and Mikhail Grabovski with 12.

So Alex Ovechkin leads his team’s second leading scorer by 22 goals; that is what you call a one-dimensional offense. To put it in better perspective, look at the division leading Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby leads the team with 26 goals, followed by Chris Kunitz at 24 and James Neal with 17. They are the top tier team in the east and you see why with one superstar that has a super supporting cast as well. So who is to blame for the lack of supporting cast that surrounds Alex Ovechkin?

Media and fans have scrutinized General Manager George McPhee for years as he has failed to put together a team that can get to the Stanley Cup. He has made questionable moves in the past and some of them are starting to catch up to haunt the team. One move that stands out is the Martin Erat trade that occurred last season. The Capitals were in a “win-now” mode and tried to acquire a player at last seasons trade deadline that would help them make a playoff push. McPhee took a risk in trading one of the clubs top prospects in Filip Forsberg to Nashville in exchange for Martin Erat. Erat’s role has diminished over the course of the season and he requested a trade earlier this season. His stats so far, zero goals and sixteen assists in 42 games played. Now you can argue that Filip Forsberg has not exactly lighted it up for Nashville, but at least he is a young player that has a lot of upside and potential. So this is one of McPhee’s failed moves that has not worked out.

The biggest decision that McPhee faced in the off-season was whether to give Mike Ribeiro a new deal or let him test the free agent market. Ribeiro came off of a good season, as the club’s second center in his first season with the team. He is 33 years old and is set to turn 34 in February. So a long-term deal was risky with the age he was playing at. McPhee let him walk in free agency and the Phoenix Coyotes signed Ribeiro. At first, McPhee claimed that Brooks Laich was going to be the teams second line center to replace him. Then down the road he signed Mikhail Grabovski.

I was a big fan of the Grabovski signing; as I had written during that time he was a necessary signing with the departure of Ribeiro. I still like Grabovski with what he brings in the offense under Adam Oates. To put this into better perspective, lets look at some numbers. In Riberio’s 48 games played last season due to the shortened season, he recorded 49 points (13 G, 36 A). Grabovski has played 48 games this season and has put up 33 points (12 G, 21 A). The difference in production between the two players is 16 points. That is crucial production that the team so desperately needs right now as they have struggled to score.

I do still side with the Grabovski signing, he is 29 years old and much younger than Ribeiro at soon to be 34. Ribeiro wanted a long-term deal at 33 years of age and that was risky to invest in him. In Grabovski’s defense, he had great success early for a large part of the season, playing along side Joel Ward and Jason Chimera on the third line. He ended up getting switched around to the second line with Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer, which was ineffective all around and even was put up on the Ovechkin line.

I like the Grabovski signing, but felt like the comparison of these players stats were interesting to point out and make what you want of it. Bottom line, he was brought in to be a top six player and has shown inconsistency. Sometimes he looks fully capable of it and at other times he does not. As I look at it, I don’t think he is the problem in the top six.

Brooks Laich was an un-restricted free agent after the 2010-2011 season and George McPhee gave Laich a six-year contract extension for $27 million dollars. Laich showed at that time that he was an effective 2-way center that was just about to hit his prime. Since his extension, his first season went well as he played all 82 regular season games and put up 41 points. Since then, Laich has not been as productive. He got injured during the lockout, so during the shortened season, he only played 9 games. He has gotten healthier this season, but still has battled  through some injuries. He has played 36 games this season and only has 8 points.

This is the same player that McPhee came out in the media during the offseason and said this was going to be the teams second line center heading into the regular season. Now the Grabovski signing looks a whole lot better especially since he is at least the team’s third leading scorer. And on top of that, McPhee traded away Mathieu Perreault to Anaheim earlier in the season.

Another top six forward that hasn’t put out the best production consistently is Troy Brouwer. If you look at his numbers from the lockout season, it is what you expect from a player like Brouwer on the second line. In his 47 games played last season, he had 33 points. Of those 33 points, he scored 19 goals. So over the course of a regular season, those numbers equate to a 30+ goal scorer and that would be the kind of production you need from a top six player. His production from last season has not carried over into this season. In his 50 games played this season, he has only scored 9 goals. That simply is not enough especially when he has played slightly more games this season than the last and put up 10 fewer goals.

Where the offensive supporting cast is a big part of the problem, it is not all of it. Three Capitals players have requested trades this season, Martin Erat, Dmitry Orlov and Michal Neuvirth. Orlov has since then gotten much more playing time, serving as the second defensive pairing with Mike Green. Orlov is a young player still learning, but consistently makes defensive miscues that lead to problems in the defensive zone. He is yet to show discipline on the ice on a consistent basis.

The goalie situation has been often pointed out as a big problem during the season. I always pointed out that the situation has been overblown and is not the true problem. Holtby started the season and played well for a while, but it became a problem once Michal Neuvirth got injured. When Neuvirth went to the IR, it forced Holtby to keep starting numerous games in a row without getting any games rest. It began to show during games, Hotlby was not the same and he had simply looked overworked.

So Washington was forced to call up Philipp Grubauer from Hershey. The rookie was impressive in net for a while, but it looked as if he was getting overworked as well. Grubauer started 15 games and won 5 of his first 7 games. In his last 8 starts however, he only won one game. Clearly the young goalie was getting overworked, just as Holtby had earlier during the season.

Now Braden is back in net as the starter, with Grubauer being sent back down to Hershey. Holtby needs to start for Washington, it is important for the team’s success. He got the contract extension last season and has shown in the past two Stanley Cup playoffs he can go toe to toe with some of the games best goalies when it counts. He had a solid outing in Tuesday night’s loss to Ottawa, which is a good start for him to regain his confidence. The defense needs to improve substantially in helping him out for the rest of the season, defending the odd man rushes better and clearing the puck out of the defensive zone more effectively. The offense also needs to do their part in giving Holtby some goal support.

Right now it is chaotic for Capitals fans. The team is in a shaky situation, but they have been here before. Last season was similar, with at one point being at the basement of the Eastern Conference behind the Florida Panthers. They dug themselves a hole, but rallied to get into the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Caps this season, they are not in the Southeast division anymore. They are in a tougher division, but the rest of the teams are not far in reach in the points standings. Last season it was Alex Ovechkin, who went on an absolute scoring tear to rally the team to the playoffs and rightfully so won his third Hart trophy. For Washington to make another late season run, it is going to take more than Ovechkin to get them back. He needs the rest of his supporting cast to step up and start producing. If the surrounding talent does not start producing and they fail to make the playoffs, George McPhee will be on the hottest seat in all the NHL. Some of his moves over the course of the past few off-seasons could wound up costing him his job.

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