Tag Archive | "caps"

Ovechkin, Neuvirth Rally Caps Past Leafs, 3-2

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Ovechkin, Neuvirth Rally Caps Past Leafs, 3-2

Posted on 10 January 2014 by Ed Frankovic

Michal Neuvirth, playing his first game since late November, had every right to be upset after Karl Alzner’s stick deflected a Phil Kessel shot from a weak angle by him to give Toronto a 2-1 lead just 54 seconds into the third period.  But #30 didn’t sulk, and in more important fashion, Neuvy made a game changing save on Mason Raymond, who was wide open in the slot, just 65 ticks later. If Raymond’s shot goes in, the game is pretty much over as Washington would’ve gone down 3-1. But Neuvirth made a great glove save.

Shortly thereafter, the Capitals started to take the play after slightly being outplayed by the visitors, to that point. Nicklas Backstrom would tie it at the 4:36 mark after strong work in the offensive zone and then Alexander Ovechkin (1 goal, 1 assist) made a great pass to Marcus Johansson, who then fed Joel Ward in the slot, and #42 buried the game winner just after David “Overpaid” Clarkson’s penalty expired.

Washington then closed out the final 8:09 of time and won their second straight contest in regulation to improve to 22-16-6 (50 points), which puts them in a second place tie with the Flyers in the Metropolitan Division.

With both teams having played the previous night, the first period had a sleepy feel to it and neither club dented the twine. But that changed in the middle frame and boy did the intensity pick up after Dion Phaneuf and John Erskine had a roughing match with the linesman sandwiched between them. #4 would end up getting the extra minor, a call that had Coach Adam Oates as mad as I’ve ever seen him on the bench. The Caps killed the extra minor and then Ovechkin scored his 32nd of the season after great work by Mike Green in the corner and a super pass by Mikhail Grabovski.

But, as usual, the Caps couldn’t stand prosperity and the Leafs’ James van Riemsdyk scored on the power play just 2:29 later. Then the intensity went to an even higher level, fueled by the Phaneuf-Erksine spat and likely also by a shaky hit from behind by Nazem Kadri on Alzner along the Caps bench. For some reason Toronto’s Carter Ashton then decided it would be a good idea to fight rookie Tom Wilson and talk about a bad plan, #43 pummeled the son of former NHLer, Brent.

That undercard bout would lead to the main event, Colton Orr vs. Erskine and Big John pounded Orr in a decisive victory. Unfortunately the fight wins didn’t translate into goals on the ice as the Leafs carried more of the play from then until the Kessel tally early in the third period.

But Neuvirth (32 saves) came through with the huge stop on Raymond when this game was in question and saved his club.

It was a big victory, granted it was over a struggling Leafs squad, but Washington needs wins now and Neuvy allowed his club to finally wake up and grab the contest.

So that is two strong goaltending performances in a row for the Caps. Philipp Grubauer was super in Tampa on Thursday and Neuvirth was excellent on Friday against Toronto. #30 still wants to be traded, but with a grueling stretch coming up, Oates is gonna need his keepers to play well.

What also helped Neuvirth tonight was the Caps clamped down in the neutral zone and avoided offensive zone turnovers. As a result the Leafs did not get any two on ones or breakaways. At best, they may have had one or two three on two’s. That is real progress for Washington, granted it was against a team that struggles to own the puck. The Capitals still allowed 34 shots on net and 66 attempts to the Leafs against 35 and 68 for the Caps, respectively, so they did not totally dominate puck possession.

Overall, it was a pretty even game but Neuvirth made some big stops when needed and the Capitals top players, Ovechkin and Backstrom, delivered down the stretch to help Washington eke out a victory.

Notes: Washington was 0 for 4 on the power play and afterwards Oates blamed much of that on the Verizon Center ice, calling it “terrible tonight”…the Leafs went 1 for 3 with the man advantage…the Caps lost the faceoff battle 39-34 and Toronto’s first goal came right after a defensive zone loss by Brooks Laich on the PK…next up for the Caps are the Buffalo Sabres at 3pm at the Verizon Center on Sunday. Ryan Miller made 49 saves last time these two teams met in Buffalo.

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Bovada gives Capitals 28/1 odds to win Stanley Cup

Posted on 07 January 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv,  Twitter: @BovadaLV).Included below are 2014-2015 College Football Championship Odds, updated NFL Odds (Super Bowl, Conference, and Exact SB Matchup Chances) updated NBA odds (Title, Conference, Division, MVP, and ROY), updated NHL odds (Stanley Cup, Conference, Division, Hart and Calder Trophies), and updated Golf odds (all four majors and the Ryder Cup).

NHL

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 12/3                 Current

Chicago Blackhawks                 15/2                              11/2

Pittsburgh Penguins                  7/1                                13/2

St. Louis Blues                          15/2                              13/2

San Jose Sharks                       8/1                                15/2

Boston Bruins                           9/1                                8/1

Anaheim Ducks                         16/1                              10/1

Los Angeles Kings                    14/1                              14/1

Colorado Avalanche                  18/1                              20/1

Montreal Canadiens                   25/1                              25/1

Philadelphia Flyers                    40/1                              25/1

Tampa Bay Lightning                 25/1                              25/1

Vancouver Canucks                   33/1                              25/1

Detroit Red Wings                     18/1                              28/1

Toronto Maple Leafs                 20/1                              28/1

Washington Capitals                  25/1                              28/1

New York Rangers                     25/1                              33/1

Carolina Hurricanes                    50/1                              40/1

Minnesota Wild                         28/1                              40/1

Ottawa Senators                        40/1                              40/1

New Jersey Devils                     40/1                              50/1

Phoenix Coyotes                       33/1                              50/1                 

Columbus Blue Jackets             66/1                              66/1

Dallas Stars                              50/1                              66/1

Nashville Predators                   66/1                              150/1

Winnipeg Jets                           100/1                            150/1

Florida Panthers                        300/1                            250/1

New York Islanders                    75/1                              250/1

Calgary Flames                         300/1                            500/1

Edmonton Oilers                       200/1                            500/1

Buffalo Sabres                          500/1                            1000/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 Eastern Conference       

Pittsburgh Penguins                  5/2

Boston Bruins                           11/4

Montreal Canadiens                   12/1

Philadelphia Flyers                    12/1

Tampa Bay Lightning                 12/1

Washington Capitals                  12/1

Detroit Red Wings                     14/1

New York Rangers                     14/1

Toronto Maple Leafs                 14/1

Ottawa Senators                        18/1

Carolina Hurricanes                    22/1

New Jersey Devils                     251

Columbus Blue Jackets             28/1

Florida Panthers                        125/1

Buffalo Sabres                          400/1

New York Islanders                    125/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 Western Conference      

Chicago Blackhawks                 11/4

St. Louis Blues                          15/4

San Jose Sharks                       4/1

Anaheim Ducks                         11/2

Los Angeles Kings                    7/1

Colorado Avalanche                  12/1

Vancouver Canucks                   12/1

Minnesota Wild                         18/1

Phoenix Coyotes                       22/1

Dallas Stars                              33/1

Nashville Predators                   75/1

Winnipeg Jets                           75/1

Calgary Flames                         250/1

Edmonton Oilers                       250/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins                           2/3

Tampa Bay Lightning                 5/1

Montreal Canadiens                   6/1

Detroit Red Wings                     7/1

Toronto Maple Leafs                 9/1

Ottawa Senators                        18/1

Florida Panthers                        100/1

Buffalo Sabres                          500/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 Metropolitan Division    

Pittsburgh Penguins                  1/10

Washington Capitals                  10/1

Philadelphia Flyers                    16/1

New York Rangers                     20/1

Carolina Hurricanes                    25/1

New Jersey Devils                     33/1

Columbus Blue Jackets             40/1

New York Islanders                    250/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks                 10/11

St. Louis Blues                          11/10

Colorado Avalanche                  7/1

Minnesota Wild                         25/1

Dallas Stars                              33/1

Nashville Predators                   200/1

Winnipeg Jets                           200/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 Pacific Division 

Anaheim Ducks                         11/10

San Jose Sharks                       7/4

Los Angeles Kings                    4/1

Vancouver Canucks                   9/1

Phoenix Coyotes                       20/1

Calgary Flames                         500/1

Edmonton Oilers                       500/1

 

NHL Special – Who will win the 2014 Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player?        

Sidney Crosby (PIT)                  1/6

Patrick Kane (CHI)                     13/4

Alex Ovechkin (WAS)                13/2

Ryan Getzlaf (ANA)                   7/1

John Tavares (NYI)                    18/1

 

NHL Special – Odds to win the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year        

Nathan Mackinnon (COL)           5/2

Chris Kreider (NYR)                   3/1

Hampus Lindholm (ANA)            3/1

Torey Krug (BOS)                      7/2

Seth Jones (NAS)                      6/1

Sean Monahan (CAL)                 17/2

Valeri Nichushkin (DAL)             17/2

Jacob Trouba  (WIN)                  20/1

College Football

 

“It was a stressful night as we were pretty much all in on FSU, needing them to win the game because of our tremendous exposure on our BCS Future Odds and on the Auburn money-line, and I have to say I slept well.  However, there’s no time to rest as I spent all morning calculating next year’s College Football Championship odds. It has been more of a challenge this time around due to some key players still undecided on the NFL Draft and also the new playoff system which is still a little obscure. Therefore, some teams who would normally stand little chance may be able to sneak in. I expect these odds to move over the next few days quite a bit based on those factors.”

-Kevin Bradley, Sports Book Manager, Bovada.lv

 

Odds to win the 2014-2015 College Football Championship  

Florida State                 11/2

Alabama                               13/2

Stanford                       9/1

Ohio State                    10/1

Oregon                             12/1

Auburn                          14/1

Michigan State              20/1

Oklahoma                            20/1

Clemson                       25/1

Florida                          25/1

Georgia                            25/1

LSU                              25/1

South Carolina                   25/1

Texas A&M                   25/1

UCLA                            25/1

Baylor                           25/1

Notre Dame                  33/1

USC                             33/1

Wisconsin                            40/1

Oklahoma State            40/1

Missouri                               40/1

Iowa                                  40/1

Louisville                              50/1

Miami                               50/1

Michigan                              50/1

Nebraska                             50/1

North Carolina                    50/1

Texas                           50/1

Oregon State                66/1

Washington                         66/1

Mississippi                          66/1

Arizona State                66/1

UCF                              66/1

Arkansas                              100/1

Arizona                            100/1

Boise State                   100/1

Boston College                 100/1

BYU                             100/1

California                             100/1

Cincinnati                             100/1

Georgia Tech                100/1

Kansas State                100/1

Mississippi State           100/1

Pittsburgh                            100/1

Rutgers                            100/1

South Florida                     100/1

TCU                              100/1

Tennessee                           100/1

Virginia Tech                 100/1

West Virginia                      100/1

 

NFL

Odds to win the 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII  

Seattle Seahawks                      12/5

Denver Broncos                        13/5

San Francisco 49ers                  11/2

New England Patriots                15/2

Carolina Panthers                      11/1

Indianapolis Colts                      14/1

New Orleans Saints                   14/1

San Diego Chargers                  14/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 AFC Conference    

Denver Broncos                        5/7

New England Patriots                3/1

Indianapolis Colts                      7/1

San Diego Chargers                  7/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 NFC Conference    

Seattle Seahawks                      10/11

San Francisco 49ers                  11/4

Carolina Panthers                      9/2

New Orleans Saints                   7/1

 

Exact Super Bowl Matchup        

Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers                            8/1

Denver Broncos vs. New Orleans Saints                         12/1

Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers                       11/2

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks                           9/4

Indianapolis Colts vs. Carolina Panthers                         40/1

Indianapolis Colts vs. New Orleans Saints                      50/1

Indianapolis Colts vs. San Francisco 49ers                     25/1

Indianapolis Colts vs. Seattle Seahawks                         14/1

New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers                    18/1

New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints                 25/1

New England Patriots vs. San Francisco 49ers               12/1

New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks                   13/2

San Diego Chargers vs. Carolina Panthers                      40/1

San Diego Chargers vs. New Orleans Saints                   50/1

San Diego Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers                 25/1

San Diego Chargers vs. Seattle Seahawks                     14/1

 

In order of odds:

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks                           9/4

Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers                       11/2

New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks                   13/2

Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers                            8/1

Denver Broncos vs. New Orleans Saints                         12/1

New England Patriots vs. San Francisco 49ers               12/1

Indianapolis Colts vs. Seattle Seahawks                         14/1

San Diego Chargers vs. Seattle Seahawks                     14/1

New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers                    18/1

Indianapolis Colts vs. San Francisco 49ers                     25/1

New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints                 25/1

San Diego Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers                 25/1

Indianapolis Colts vs. Carolina Panthers                         40/1

San Diego Chargers vs. Carolina Panthers                      40/1

Indianapolis Colts vs. New Orleans Saints                      50/1

San Diego Chargers vs. New Orleans Saints                   50/1

 

SUPER BOWL XLVIII – Early Line           

AFC      +2½

NFC       -2½

 

NBA

Odds to win 2014 NBA Championship  (Teams in red have longer odds , teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)

                  Odds on 12/313            Current Odds

Miami Heat                                2/1                                2/1

Indiana Pacers                          4/1                                7/2

Oklahoma City Thunder              6/1                                6/1

San Antonio Spurs                    7/1                                7/1

Golden State Warriors               16/1                              12/1

Los Angeles Clippers                14/1                              14/1

Houston Rockets                      16/1                              16/1

Portland Trailblazers                  22/1                              16/1

Brooklyn Nets                           28/1                              50/1

Chicago Bulls                            33/1                              50/1

Dallas Mavericks                       50/1                              50/1

Memphis Grizzlies                     40/1                              66/1

Atlanta Hawks                           100/1                            75/1

Denver Nuggets                        50/1                              75/1     

Minnesota Timberwolves            50/1                              75/1

New York Knicks                       50/1                              75/1

Los Angeles Lakers                   50/1                              100/1

Phoenix Suns                            250/1                            100/1

Toronto Raptors                        125/1                            100/1

Washington Wizards                  125/1                            100/1

Boston Celtics                          200/1                            150/1

Detroit Pistons                          100/1                            150/1

Cleveland Cavaliers                   100/1                            200/1

New Orleans Pelicans                150/1                            250/1

Charlotte Bobcats                     300/1                            300/1

Philadelphia 76ers                     250/1                            300/1

Orlando Magic                          300/1                            500/1

Milwaukee Bucks                       350/1                            1000/1

Sacramento Kings                     500/1                            1000/1

Utah Jazz                                  500/1                            1000/1

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Eastern Conference     

Miami Heat                                2/3

Indiana Pacers                          7/5

Brooklyn Nets                           22/1

Chicago Bulls                            22/1

Atlanta Hawks                           40/1

New York Knicks                       40/1

Toronto Raptors                        50/1

Washington Wizards                  50/1

Detroit Pistons                          66/1

Boston Celtics                          75/1

Cleveland Cavaliers                   100/1

Charlotte Bobcats                     150/1

Philadelphia 76ers                     150/1

Orlando Magic                          200/1

Milwaukee Bucks                       500/1

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Western Conference     

Oklahoma City Thunder              9/4

San Antonio Spurs                    3/1

Golden State Warriors               6/1

Los Angeles Clippers                13/2

Houston Rockets                      7/1

Portland Trailblazers                  7/1

Dallas Mavericks                       28/1

Memphis Grizzlies                     33/1

Denver Nuggets                        40/1

Minnesota Timberwolves            40/1

Los Angeles Lakers                   50/1

Phoenix Suns                            50/1

New Orleans Pelicans                1251

Sacramento Kings                     500/1

Utah Jazz                                  500/1

 

Division Odds

Odds to win 2014 NBA Atlantic Division          

Toronto Raptors                        6/5

Brooklyn Nets                           2/1

New York Knicks                       11/2

Boston Celtics                          6/1

Philadelphia 76ers                     15/1

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Northwest Division      

Oklahoma City Thunder              2/5

Portland Trailblazers                  3/2

Denver Nuggets                        40/1

Minnesota Timberwolves            40/1

Utah Jazz                                  500/1

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Pacific Division           

Los Angeles Clippers                2/3

Golden State Warriors               3/2

Phoenix Suns                            7/1

Los Angeles Lakers                   50/1

Sacramento Kings                     200/1

 

Odds to win 2014 NBA Southwest Division      

San Antonio Spurs                    1/4

Houston Rockets                      5/2

Dallas Mavericks                       25/1

Memphis Grizzlies                     100/1

New Orleans Pelicans                100/1

 

2013-14 NBA MVP – Odds to Win         

Kevin Durant (OKC)                   10/11

LeBron James (MIA)                  11/10

Paul George (IND)                     15/2

LaMarcus Aldridge (POR)          12/1

 

2013-14 Rookie of the Year – Odds to Win        

Michael Carter-Williams (PHI)      5/4

Trey Burke (UT)                         2/1

Victor Oladipo (ORL)                 5/2

Tim Hardaway Jr. (NY)               12/1

Ben McLemore (SAC)                15/1

Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)    20/1

College Hoops

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 5/15/13           Current Odds

Arizona                         15/1                              11/2

Michigan State              12/1                              6/1

Kentucky                      5/1                                7/1

Kansas                         11/2                              15/2

Louisville                      17/2                              10/1

Oklahoma State            50/1                              10/1

Syracuse                      25/1                              10/1

Duke                            14/1                              12/1

Ohio State                    20/1                              12/1

Wisconsin                     50/1                              16/1

Florida                          18/1                              20/1

North Carolina               16/1                              25/1

Wichita State                 66/1                              28/1

Iowa                             50/1                              40/1

Pittsburgh                     50/1                              40/1

UCLA                            40/1                              40/1

Villanova                       66/1                              40/1

Colorado                      40/1                              50/1

Connecticut                   33/1                              50/1

Iowa State                     100/1                            50/1

Memphis                       33/1                              50/1

Michigan                       33/1                              50/1

Oregon                         100/1                            50/1

San Diego State            100/1                            50/1

Creighton                      50/1                              66/1

Gonzaga                       50/1                              66/1

Missouri                        50/1                              66/1

VCU                             50/1                              66/1

Baylor                           50/1                              75/1

Cincinnati                      100/1                            100/1

Georgetown                  50/1                              100/1

St. Louis                       50/1                              100/1

Virginia                         66/1                              100/1

UMass                          Off the Board                100/1

Florida State                 75/1                              150/1

Illinois                           66/1                              150/1

Indiana                          33/1                             

 

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 07 January 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-Wake Forest @ Maryland (Thursday 7pm Comcast Center); Boxing: Arash Usmanee vs. Juan Antonio Rodriguez (Friday 9pm from Tacoma, WA live on ESPN2)

10. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack (Friday 9pm Rams Head Live); Dirty Dozen Brass Band (Thursday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Cracker (Saturday 6pm 9:30 Club); Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder (Friday & Saturday 7:30pm Birchmere); Peter Gabriel “Scratch My Back & I’ll Scratch Yours” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

JCS is celebrating the 15th anniversary of one of the most important records OF MY LIFE.

I would like to go see Dirty Dozen Brass Band, yes, thanks for asking.

Cracker does that one song you kinda remember.

And now here’s Ricky Skaggs.

9. Blue Man Group (Friday-Sunday France-Merrick Performing Arts Center at The Hippodrome); Jim Gaffigan (Friday & Saturday 7pm & 9:30pm Warner Theatre); Rob Schneider (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); “Archer” season five premiere (Monday 10pm FX); Lone Survivor“, “Her” and “August: Osage County” out in theaters (Friday); Baltimore County Restaurant Week (Friday-Monday throughout Baltimore County)

Obviously the only thing that matters this week is the return of Archer. Enjoy the next eight minutes of your life. They won’t get better.

Also, this is great.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Caps John Carlson Makes a Strong Team USA Olympic Hockey Team

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Caps John Carlson Makes a Strong Team USA Olympic Hockey Team

Posted on 01 January 2014 by Ed Frankovic

Following today’s NHL Winter Classic in the “Big House” in Ann Arbor, USA Hockey announced their 25 man roster for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in February and as predicted in this blog back in November, the Washington Capitals John Carlson made the team on defense.

Carlson, in a conference call with the media tonight, called it a “dream come true” and said that playing on this big stage would be an even greater feat than scoring the overtime game winning goal for USA in the 2010 World Juniors Gold Medal.

Washington’s #74 received a ringing endorsement from team captain Alex Ovechkin when the Gr8 said that Carlson was the team’s best defensemen and 100% deserved to be on the team. Carlson has had an outstanding season and when Mike Green was injured earlier in the year, he stepped up as the team’s #1 d-man on the power play to go along with his role of being on the #1 pairing for killing penalties. Simply put, his ability to play in all situations combined with his excellent skating and hard shot made him a perfect fit for this year’s Team USA Olympic squad.

As for the rest of the team, GM David Poile’s club that will be coached by Penguins bench boss Dan Bylsma is as follows:

Goalies (3):

Ryan Miller (Buffalo), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles),and Jimmy Howard (Detroit)

Defensemen (8):

Carlson, Ryan Suter (Minnesota), Ryan McDonagh (Rangers), Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh), Paul Martin (Pittsburgh), Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis), Kevin Faulk (Carolina), and Cam Fowler (Anaheim)

Forwards (14):

Patrick Kane (Chicago), Zach Parise (Minnesota), Joe Pavelski (San Jose), Ryan Callahan (Rangers), Derek Stepan (Rangers), James van Riemsdyk (Toronto), Phil Kessel (Toronto), Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg), David Backes (St. Louis), T.J. Oshie (St. Louis), Ryan Kesler (Vancouver), Max Pacioretty (Montreal), Paul Stastny (Colorado), and Dustin Brown (Los Angeles)

This is a very good team but the challenge, as Poile mentioned back in August, is to be able to handle the big ice surface in Sochi. Team USA has not fared well outside of North America in the Olympics so the pressure is on this club to produce. The strength of this squad, in my opinion, is the goaltending and up front. Miller, despite playing behind a weak Sabres club, has been performing at a very high level and if Quick doesn’t get healthy and play well quickly, it will be the Michigan State alum in net once again for the Americans. Up front, Kane is as good a scorer as any in the world. The defense is the question mark but this crew of eight is filled with players who can play at both ends of the rink.

The time zone change, Sochi is nine hours ahead of the east coast, will be a factor for many of the NHL players but that impacts nearly every squad. On paper, Canada and Sweden look to be the best while Russia is hoping home ice helps their cause. I see Russia’s defense and goaltending as ultimately being their downfall. There are still six weeks to go until the games start, but my prediction right now is:

Gold – Sweden

Silver – Canada

Bronze – USA

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Backstrom, Grubauer Lead Caps Over Rangers

Posted on 28 December 2013 by Ed Frankovic

So much of sports can be described as a “Game of Inches.”

On Friday night at the Verizon Center, that was definitely the case as the Washington Capitals received a late goal from Eric Fehr to defeat the New York Rangers, 3-2. Fehr’s tally, his 6th of the season, was on a snap shot down the right side after a nice feed from Nicklas Backstrom (1G, 1A). Immediately before that goal, which came in a four on four situation, Dan Girardi hit the far post behind Philipp Grubauer (38 saves) after a Washington giveaway. If that puck is an inch to the right, it’s a 3-2 Rangers lead. But that’s the way it goes, and remember on Monday, if Alex Ovechkin’s shot from the slot is an inch lower than the Caps tie the Ducks late in regulation. As they say, “That’s Hockey.”

This victory improves the Caps to 20-14-4 (44 points) and puts them six points ahead of the Rangers, who they will only face one more time again this season, at Madison Square Garden.

The biggest difference in this game tonight was between the pipes. Grubauer was excellent for the Caps while Cam Talbot gave up some questionable goals. I know Talbot has been hot, but Henrik Lundqvist owns the Caps, and for some reason Alain Vigneault chose to go more with recent form than historical stats in his net minding decision. I can tell you I was certainly thrilled to not see King Henrik manning the cage for New York, so one would think the Capitals players were happy too?

The shot attempts in this contest ended up 71-55 for New York, but it was a fairly even game when it comes to quality chances. The Rangers shot attempts in the opening frame were primarily from the perimeter and it was really only the second period where they dominated play, and most of that was when the Caps had either their 4th line on the ice or their 3rd defensive pair on the blue line.

In the final period, after the Rangers got a quick tying tally on Carl Hagelin’s shorthanded goal, the Capitals carried more of the play. Coach Adam Oates did a nice job of shifting the ice time to his top two defensive pairs and limited the 3rd pair to just three and a half minutes. The difference was clearly noticeable and with the Rangers short a defensemen due to Anton Stralman’s in game injury, the Capitals seemed to wear the Rangers out more in that final frame.

Another positive was that the Caps did a better job on the back check on Friday after misreading two situations on Monday and allowing the tying and winning goal to the Ducks. Oates said that his team was better, but he also said the Rangers are a different type of team than Anaheim, which indicated it was an easier chore for his club against New York. However, Karl Alzner told me that Oates showed some video clips on back checking and King Karl said that the breakdowns on Monday were more of an individual thing. Whatever the case, Washington did a much better job in defensive zone coverage when the Rangers came up the ice on the rush.

Alzner said the team has been working more on their “end zone.” #27 said that the key to a solid back check and defensive zone is that when the puck is in the offensive zone there is always a third guy high. Some coaches require their center to always be that third guy (this is how Bryan Murray ran things for the Caps in the mid 1980′s) but many just let each shift play itself out and have the third guy be a read by the forwards themselves. From what I can gather, Oates’ system looks to be a “read and react accordingly” on the back check. So any of the three forwards could be the first player back. One thing the team is working on, according to Alzner, is more than just the third guy coming back strong because he said the coaches have pointed out it usually has been the third or even the fourth guy on the opposition that have been getting the quality chances against Washington this year.

It’s encouraging to see the focus of the team on these things and there is no doubt that practice time helps the reads and the communication, which is vital, on the ice.

As for Backstrom, he continues to dominate and any smart hockey person will tell you just how good #19 is compared to others in the league. The media may not be all over him from a publicity standpoint, but those in the game know just how good the center is and he is arguably as important to the Caps as any other player. On Friday night, Backstrom, along with Grubauer, were the primary reasons the Capitals stopped their two game losing streak.

Notes: John Carlson led the Caps in ice time with 26:38. Mike Green (1G) played 19:10…the Rangers wore their top three d out with Girardi logging 27:35, Ryan McDonagh getting a game leading 29:53 and Michael Del Zotto playing 24:37…next up for the Caps are the Buffalo Sabres on the road on Sunday at 5pm.

 

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Defensive Zone Breakdowns Cost Caps in Loss to Ducks

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Defensive Zone Breakdowns Cost Caps in Loss to Ducks

Posted on 24 December 2013 by Ed Frankovic

After back to back dismal efforts against mediocore teams that saw the Caps fortuitously pull out three of a possible four points last weekend, Washington was back in action on Monday night against the number one team in the NHL: Bruce Boudreau’s Anaheim Ducks, who came in with an eight game winning streak.

The Capitals played much harder in this one and actually had a 2-0 early lead, but defensive mistakes at critical times ultimately did them in once again, and they were defeated, 3-2, to drop their record to 19-14-4 heading into the Christmas break.

This was a very close game, as evidenced by the shot attempt totals, which were 57-54 in favor of the Ducks. Washington was much better than last weekend in the puck possession department but Anaheim did a superior job of getting their attempts on net, winning that battle 29-19. The Caps did a lot of good things in this game and both Marcus Johansson and Alex Ovechkin hit iron in the third frame in what is a tough loss to a very good hockey team.

After Saturday’s overtime loss to the Devils I blogged that things needed to change and it was on Coach Adam Oates and GM George McPhee to figure out whether it was the players or the system that were causing the issues. Following tonight’s game, it appears to me that effort and also focus, on the part of the players, and not the system, is the major problem. Washington was motivated on Monday and brought a passion to get and own the puck. But the Ducks are a veteran and skilled team, and going against number one isn’t all about effort and passion, it’s about playing the right way and paying attention to detail.

That is where this Capitals team is falling down, attention to detail, especially in their own end. The Caps gave up the tying tally with just 27 seconds remaining in period two. Then they gave up the game winner with 5:36 left in regulation. Both goals were the result of poor reads that led to bad defensive zone coverage. Oates confirmed that after the game. On the game winner, the forwards all got caught too low on the back check allowing defenseman Hampus Lindholm to fire a shot through a maze of bodies past Philipp Grubauer. There was a lack of communication on the part of the Washington forwards on the ice and it resulted in a lot of space and time for the Ducks defenseman to shoot and score.

Anaheim’s second tally, however, is the one that is the most upsetting and disappointing. The five guys on the ice were out for a long shift and each one can shoulder their share of the blame. We won’t point out the names, but let’s just say there were a lot of contract dollars on the ice for the home club. The initial rush by Ben Lovejoy wasn’t played properly by the Capitals defensemen, who simply stopped moving his feet. But even still, Lovejoy was just looking to center the puck and if the other defenseman and the three forwards don’t puck watch and instead cover Anaheim players, there is no quality chance or goal. That did not happen as the Caps d-man went to the wrong post and the forwards allowed Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano to have a clear and uncovered path to the front of the cage. The result was an easy goal for Koivu that Grubauer had no chance on.

Simply put, it was a lack of effort at the end of a long shift and poor communication, as well. In his post game presser Oates said that communication should be going on at all times on the ice and he also said that at this point in the season, the reads and positioning should be automatic. It was not on the tying tally, as well as the game winner.

Those type of mistakes not only cost a squad points in the standings, but in the bigger picture, those are the type of errors that prevent a hockey team from being one of the better clubs in the league. Washington is in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference for this exact reason, they have too many breakdowns in their own end that are costing them hockey games.

Reading Oates’ answers, expression and demeanor afterwards, I got the feeling that he’s been pointing out these things over and over to his players. These aren’t hard hockey concepts but they require a mental toughness to continue to execute when you are tired or not in a position to score a goal. Everyone loves offense, but playing proper defense is the key to winning hockey games and a Stanley Cup. The Cup winner each season knows how to do the things that allow a club to transition from offense to defense. They play their positions well, they communicate on defense, and they focus even when they are tired at the end of a shift.

It’s the things you need to do to win hockey games and ultimately a championship.

Until this Caps team is ready to commit to that, they’ll do exactly what I said after Saturday’s loss to New Jersey: they will qualify for the playoffs and then find themselves out in either round one or two.

The talent is mostly there for the Caps to go where the players say they want to go, but saying it and then doing it requires a whole different level of focus and commitment.

Right now, I question that level of commitment from several of the players on this team.

Notes: Washington won the faceoff battle, 43-25…the Caps were 1 for 5 on the power play while the Ducks went 0 for 4 with the man advantage…Brooks Laich returned to the lineup and played 13:23…Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom had the two goals for Washington…next up, on Friday night at the Verizon Center, for the Caps is an improving Rangers team that has won two games in a row.

 

 

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Ducks Score Three Unanswered, Comeback Win over Caps 3-2

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Ducks Score Three Unanswered, Comeback Win over Caps 3-2

Posted on 23 December 2013 by Nick Dorsey

 

Washington after 36 games played this season have shown some consistent trends throughout the course of a hockey game. They are reliant on their special teams, they get out to a slow start and they cannot maintain a lead. Several of those trends were on display tonight against the NHL’s best Anaheim Ducks.

One trend that did not show tonight, a slow start. Eric Fehr started a two on one breakaway with a perfectly deflected pass off of the boards that hit fellow line mate Mikhail Grabovski in stride. Grabovski and Troy Brouwer made a nice give and go play to set up Grabovski’s 11th goal of the season, just over seven minutes into the first frame. Second line production has not always been there this season, but as of late this line has played well with each other.

Another trend that was on display tonight were the special teams. Nicklas Backstrom recorded his 9th goal of the season on the power play. Backstrom was looking for the saucer pass back to the point toward Green, but took the space he was given for a nice wrister past Hiller. That kind of aggression is something Caps fans would not mind seeing more out of Backstrom, who has displayed quite the sneaky wrist shot over the course of his career. The final trend would come into play once again and would prove to be an Achilles heel of the team. With below three minutes to play in the first period, Andrew Cogliano put it past Grubauer to cut the lead to one.

Throughout the second period, both teams exchanged penalties that gave the opposition plenty of opportunities to score. Neither of them scored on the extra man opportunities, but the period was not left scoreless. Just under 30 seconds to go in the second, Saku Koivu tied the game up for his 5th goal of the season.

Another lead lost for Washington heading into the third, but there was still time for redemption. Hampus Lindholm made it three unanswered goals for the Anaheim Ducks, just less than six minutes left into the game. Another lead squandered away for the Caps, but like so many times this season, there was still time for a comeback. The fans at Verizon Center almost had their prayers answered when Alex Ovechkin fired off a shot in the slot that hit the cross bar. It took an awkward bounce and the refs waved it off. It eventually went to replay and the league ruled it a no goal all the way from Toronto. It was a good call even though the sell-out crowd in DC was not pleased with the end result. Washington was unable to convert at the end of the game with the extra man attempt after pulling Grubauer.

It was a tough, hard fought hockey game by two teams the whole sixty minutes. Against the best team currently in the NHL, it was a good effort by the home team amidst the holiday season. It is still a disappointing loss in a sense because this has been the story so often during this season. The Capitals find a way to lose leads quickly and end up trying to fight their way back in at the last minute. Anaheim is now currently on a 9-game winning after this comeback win.

Philipp Grubauer played a nice game tonight in goal stopping 26 of the 29 shots he had faced. It was his first loss in regulation in his short career thus far. Troy Brouwer also had himself a nice game, recording 2 assists and having great success in the face-off circle. Brooks Laich returned back to action tonight after missing the last 11 contests. He was used in even strength play, on the penalty kill and on the power play. Laich is always useful in the penalty kill, which was perfect in shutting down all of Anaheim’s four extra man opportunities. The power play for Washington was one for five and the Caps also won 45 face-offs to the Ducks 23.

The Caps now have a 19-14-4 record (42 points) heading into a holiday break. They resume action this Friday night back at the Verizon Center against their rival New York Rangers. The Rangers sit in third place in the Metropolitan division with 38 points in the standings. It is a big game for Washington, as they need to keep pace ahead of the rest of the division below them.

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Caps Need Changes After Gift Wrapped Loss to Devils

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Caps Need Changes After Gift Wrapped Loss to Devils

Posted on 21 December 2013 by Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals were in a holiday giving mood on Saturday night. The Caps had a 3-1 lead heading into the third period and a 4-2 lead after Alexander Ovechkin’s 30th goal of the season with 11 minutes left but were unable to close the game out.

The Devils Andy Greene scored on a rebound early into overtime to complete the comeback for New Jersey as they went on to win 5-4.

It was a bad defeat for the Capitals and they fall to 19-13-4 (42 points) this season.

What bugs me the most about this loss isn’t the third period collapse, no this is a trend that has been building for most of the season. The Capitals are not a good puck possession team and it starts with the problems they have in their own zone with bad coverage and turnovers. They struggle to complete passes coming out of their end and the players look lost on their reads on whether to pass the puck forward or to skate it out.

86-42 and 72-37.

You know what those numbers represent? The attempted shot totals for the last two games, which were heavily one sided against Washington. This is very alarming and the fancy stats community can easily produce the data to show that the Capitals are not a strong puck possession team. They’ve given up over 30 shots on net a game far too often and if not for some timely goaltending from their net minders plus several shootout victories, they don’t have 19 wins. They simply are leaving their goalies out to dry with poor defensive play for long periods of games.

It is a minor miracle that the Capitals gained three standings points going 1-0-1 with those lopsided shot attempt totals. But that won’t continue when you play so badly in long stretches. For me the questions have to start being asked by GM George McPhee and head coach Adam Oates about whether it is the system or the players. Oates said after Friday night’s win that the numerous Canes scoring chances were primarily due to bad reads by his players. We are now 36 games into the season, shouldn’t these guys know what the coaching staff wants them to do and be able to execute it?

Bottom line is this is either a system issue or they don’t have the right players to execute it.

36 games is a large enough sample size to evaluate your team.

My evaluation, at this point, is the Capitals have a middle of the pack team that has enough talent to qualify for the post season but doesn’t look to advance past the first round or second round the way they’ve shown to be deficient in their own end.

You aren’t going to win a Stanley Cup or even contend for one playing that way.

It’s up to McPhee and Oates to figure it out and fix it.

Either modify the system to fit the players or make some trades to find players who can execute what the coaching staff desires.

Notes: Braden Holtby took the loss giving up five goals on 37 shots. His biggest mistake was the 4th goal when he had miscommunication with his defensemen and turned the puck over up the boards…the Devils were 2 for 2 on the power play while the Caps went 0 for 1…next up for the Caps are the Anaheim Ducks, coached by Bruce Boudreau, on Monday at the Verizon Center. Bruce’s squad has won 8 games in a row.

 

 

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Flyers Top Caps 5-2

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Flyers Top Caps 5-2

Posted on 18 December 2013 by Nick Dorsey

 

The Capitals have made it the norm recently coming back from large deficits to win games late, but last night that was not the case. After a first period that was pretty evenly played between both the Flyers (10 shots on goal) and Caps (9 shots on goal), the second period is where the action picked up.

A Hi-sticking minor penalty on Flyers Kimmo Timonen near the end of the first period, carried over into the second period. Alex Ovechkin scored his 28th goal of the season just forty seconds into the period. It was a nice backhand put back after the puck trickled around in front of goalie Steve Mason. Washington had an early lead in Wells Fargo Center, but the lead did not last. Not even a minute later, Jakub Voracek came down with a 2 on 1 man advantage and stuck it past goalie Braden Holtby.

The game was tied at one, but the scoring was nowhere near done for the remainder of the period. After Martin Erat just threw a pass just out of the reach of Troy Brouwer, Troy made a nice hustle play. He chased down the puck behind the net and found Eric Fehr in front for his fifth goal of the season. Washington regained the lead once again, but Philly broke through once again.

Approaching the twelve-minute mark into the period, Matt Read beat Holtby for his tenth goal of the season. The game was tied once again, but the game changed with just five minutes to go in the second. Thomas Wilson came in with a vicious hit on Brayden Schenn, which sparked a fight amongst the majority of the players on the ice. The rivalry game began to get more chippy and physical at this point. Wilson was charged with a five minute major for boarding. The Caps know what it is like to benefit off of a major penalty, but this time they were on the other end of it.

Mark Streit opened up the power play scoring just below two minutes into the power play. Washington had given up the lead and there was still plenty of time remaining on the Flyer man advantage. Voracek scored the second power play goal of the game and also his second, minutes before the period’s conclusion. The five-minute major was the difference at this point as the Caps headed to the locker room down 4-2 on the road.

Not much changed for Washington in the third frame of the game. They were able to kill the little amount of time remaining on the Flyers power play. They had come back from this deficit before, but luck eventually runs low. After a couple of great breakaway saves by Holtby, the third time was a charm for Philly. After defender John Carlson misplayed the puck, it led to an easy breakaway goal for Wayne Simmonds to put the game out of reach.

Washington had a good opportunity to create some space in the division ahead of Philadelphia, but they let these past two opportunities squander. The Caps were fortunate to come back and win Sunday’s game at the Verizon Center. When you look at it with perspective, Washington came away with two points, but the Flyers got three out of a possible four. They have a good opportunity coming up this weekend. The Capitals travel to take on the Carolina Hurricanes this Friday, who they are yet to beat this season so far.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 17 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-UMBC @ Loyola (Saturday 12pm Reitz Arena)

10. Beyonce (Wednesday 8pm Verizon Center); Switchfoot/New Politics (Thursday 8pm Rams Head Live), Kix (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live); The English Beat (Wednesday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Saves The Day (Saturday 8:30pm Ottobar); Michael Bolton (Tuesday 8pm Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts); Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (Tuesday 7:30pm Birchmere), Carbon Leaf (Thursday & Friday 7:30pm Birchmere); Chatham County Line (Wednesday 8pm Jammin’ Java)

Switchfoot: you have no idea how much you enjoy them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_5oE0ijhKg

New Politics does the song you’ve heard a ton.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVOUTkFkMNU

Carbon Leaf should stop spending any more than a day or two out of the area every month.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOo7ZzwOI9I

Chatham County Line is worth finding out more about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMaZEWxy3S8

9. A John Waters Christmas (Thursday & Friday 7pm Baltimore Soundstage); Kick-Ass 2” and “The Lone Ranger” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Wednesday) American Hustle“, “Saving Mr. Banks” and “Inside Llewyn Davis” out in theaters (Friday)

I will be seeing ALL of these movies this week. I enjoy this.

And this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQyPVBtLXk0

AND this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awR-XUHCMd8

AND this.

I will see all of these.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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