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Navy Battles Army Saturday at FedEx Field

Posted on 09 December 2011 by WNST Staff

2011 Navy Football Game Specifics
Game 12 Army (3-8) vs. Navy (4-7) presented by USAA
Date and Kickoff Dec. 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm ET
Location Landover, Md. | FedExField (82,000)
Television CBS
TV Talent Verne Lundquist (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (analyst), Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
Army-Navy Rivalry Click here for more information

Setting the Stage
• Army and Navy will meet for the 112th time and for the first time inside the Capital Beltway when they square off on Saturday, Dec. 10 at FedExField (82,000) in the annual Army-Navy Game presented by USAA.  Kickoff is set for 2:40 pm (ET).
• CBS Sports will broadcast the game around the world on the American Forces Network with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson calling the action.
• CBS Radio/Westwood One will also broadcast the game around the world on American Forces Network with John Tautges on the play-by-play and Eddie George handling the color commentary.
• CBS Sports Network will provide complete coverage surrounding CBS Sports’ broadcast of The Army-Navy Game presented by USAA. The Network will air two special editions of INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL on Saturday prior to the game, INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: ARMY-NAVY MARCH-ON SPECIAL (11:00 am-12:30 pm, ET) and INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: ARMY-NAVY TAILGATE (1:00–2:00 pm, ET).  Hosts Adam Zucker and Molly Qerim will be joined at FedExField by analysts Randy Cross and Brian Jones, as well as special guests from the academies.
• The MARCH-ON SPECIAL features the procession of the Brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets as they march onto FedExField, while the ARMY-NAVY TAILGATE previews the game with in-depth news and analysis.
• PRELUDE: THE MAKING OF A GAME OF HONOR, a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the SHOWTIME documentary A GAME OF HONOR, airs at 12:30 pm, ET on Saturday.

Pregame
• Army’s Corps of Cadets will march-on at 11:24 am, followed by Navy’s Brigade of Midshipmen at 12:04 pm.
• The Navy Leap Frogs and the Army Golden Knights will jump at 2:19 pm.
• Navy’s fly-by will take place at 2:36 pm, followed by Army’s at 2:37 pm.  Navy’s fly-by will feature four F-18s from Naval Air Station in Oceana, Va.  Army’s fly-by will be four Apache helicopters from the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

Army-Navy Storylines
• Navy enters the game having won 11 of the last 12 contests against the Black Knights, including each of the last nine. The nine-consecutive wins marks the longest streak in series history by either team.
• The Mids have won nine in a row in dominant fashion, outscoring the Black Knights, 322-91 (35.8-10.1).  The closest game was in 2006 when Navy defeated Army, 26-14, in Philadelphia.  The Mids have won the last two games by 14 points.
•    A win on Saturday would make Ken Niumatalolo just the fourth coach in school history to start his career 4-0 against Army. Paul Johnson went 6-0 against West Point (2002-07), Wayne Hardin won his first-five games (1959-63) against Army and George Welsh won his first-four contests (1973-76).
• Five of Navy’s seven losses this year have come by a combined total of 11 points. The Mids are just 1-5 in games decided by eight points or less. The five losses in close games are tied for the third most in the country.
•    Four of Navy’s 2011 opponents are either ranked (South Carolina and Southern Miss) or receiving votes (Notre Dame and Rutgers) in the top 25 polls.
•    The Mids have played the nations’ 29th-toughest schedule based on the cumulative records of their opponents to date (58-46, does not include Delaware or Army).
•    Eight of Navy’s 12 opponents have winning records and seven are bowl eligible.  Two of Navy’s four opponents that are not bowl eligible, East Carolina and San Jose State, finished with a 5-7 record.
• Navy is No. 1 in the country in fewest penalties per game (2.4) and penalty yards per game (20.9).  Army is tied for third in the country in fewest penalties (4.0).
• Navy has missed or fumbled the snap on at least one kick (PAT or field goal) in eight of its 11 games this year, including five-straight contests in the month of October.
•    Navy is just 16-15 (.516) away from the friendly confines of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium under Niumatalolo, including a 2-4 (.333) mark this year.
• The Mids are 7-9 (.438) under Niumatalolo with more than one week to prepare, but 3-0 (1.000) against Army.
• Navy is 1-5 (.167) in games decided by eight points or less this year and 13-13 (.500) over the last four years.
• In Navy’s four wins this year, it has outscored the opposition 91-17 in the first half (36-0 in the first quarter, 55-17 in the second quarter).
• In the Mids’ seven losses this year, they have been outscored, 152-66, in the first half (59-10 in the first quarter, 93-56 in the second quarter).
• Navy is 4-2 (.667) in 2011 and 26-4 (.867) over the last four years when scoring first.  The Mids are 0-5 in 2011 and 5-17 (.227) over the last four years when the opponents score first.
• The Mids are 4-0 this season when leading after the first quarter and 0-7 when tied or trailing after the first quarter.  Under Niumatalolo, the Mids are 20-3 (.870) when leading after the first quarter and 11-18 (.379) when trailing or tied after the first stanza.
• Navy is 4-3 (.571) when leading after three quarters.  Entering this season, the Mids were 22-0 under Niumatalolo when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.
• Navy has made 43 trips inside the red zone in its 11 games this season, scoring 33 times (.767), including 27 touchdowns (.628).  The Mids are tied for 86th in the country in red zone offense  (Army is also tied for 86th).
• Navy has played five games this year where it has rushed for less than 300 yards and lost all five.  It is 4-2 (.667) when rushing for more than 300 yards.
• An opposing running back has rushed for over 100 yards in a game against the Mids in eight of 11 contests this year.  In the previous three years, Navy surrendered only nine 100-yard rushing games to opposing running backs.
• Senior defensive end Jabaree Tuani has produced 42-career tackles for a loss, which is tied with David Mahoney (2003-06) for the second most in school history.  He is just two behind record-holder Andy Person (1992-95).
• Tuani has recorded 16 sacks over his four-year career, which is tied with Tyler Tidwell (2004-06) for third on the Mids’ career list.

Close Games In The Army-Navy Series
• 53 of the 111 Army-Navy games (.477) have been decided by eight points or less.  Army has won 24 of those 53, while Navy has scored 22 victories and seven have ended in a tie.
• The last time an Army-Navy game was decided by eight points or less was in 2000 when the Mids defeated the Black Knights, 30-28.

Scouting Army
• Army is 3-8 on the year with victories over Northwestern (21-14), Tulane (45-6) and Fordham (55-0).
• The Black Knights have losses against Northern Illinois (49-26), San Diego State (23-20), Ball State (48-21), Miami of Ohio (35-28), Vanderbilt (44-21), Air Force (24-14), Rutgers (27-12) and Temple (42-14).
• Army comes to Landover with the nation’s top-ranked rushing offense (350.9 yds/gm).  The Black Knights last won the rushing title in 1998 (293.8).  Army’s average of 350.9 yards per game would be the most by a team since Nebraska in 1997 (392.6).
•    The Black Knights are 13th in the country in pass defense (178.1).

The Last Time … 
Navy 31, Army 17    Dec. 11, 2010 | Philadelphia, Pa.
• Senior safety Wyatt Middleton’s 98-yard fumble return for a touchdown with 1:03 remaining in the second quarter turned what was shaping up to be a close game into a rout as Navy rolled to its ninth win of the year and ninth-straight win over Army, 31-17, at a sold out (69,223) Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.  The 98-yard fumble return was the longest in school history and longest in an Army-Navy game.
• Navy had jumped out to a 17-0 lead as Joe Buckley nailed a 36-yard field goal and quarterback Ricky Dobbs threw touchdown passes of 77 yards to John Howell and 32 yards to Brandon Turner.  The touchdown pass to Howell was the longest pass play in series history.
• The Mids were in total control of the game midway through the second quarter until a pair of Dobbs turnovers gave Army life.
• Dobbs fumbled the ball on first down from his own 23 and it was recovered by Army’s Josh McNary.  Six plays later, Army quarterback Trent Steelman hit Malcolm Brown with a five-yard touchdown pass to cut the Navy lead to 17-7. It was Army’s first touchdown against the Midshipmen since the fourth quarter of the 2006 game.
• Three plays later, Dobbs gave the ball back to Army again as he was stripped by McNary and Stephen Anderson recovered the loose ball at the Army 48.
• The Black Knights methodically moved the ball down the field, taking it 49 yards in 11 plays.   On first and goal from the Navy three, Steelman tried to power his way into the end zone, but senior linebacker Tyler Simmons and senior outside linebacker Jerry Hauburger met Steelman at the two-yard line and Simmons’ knocked the ball from Steelman’s hands.  The ball popped up in the air and flew right to Middleton who raced 98 yards for the back-breaking touchdown.
• Army took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and drove 47 yards on 12 plays with Alex Carlton capping the drive with a 42-yard field goal to make the score 24-10.
• Navy put the game away with a 13-play, 87-yard, 9:03 scoring drive to start the fourth quarter with slot back Gee Gee Greene waltzing in from the 25 to make it 31-10.

Service Academy Dominance
• Navy has amassed a 74-40 (.649) overall record in the last nine years, while Air Force is 62-48 (.564) and Army is 30-77 (.280).

Dominant Era in Army-Navy History
• Navy’s 31-17 victory over Army was its ninth-consecutive win over the Black Knights, the longest streak in series history by either team.
• The Mids have won those nine in a row against Army in dominant fashion, outscoring the Black Knights, 322-91 (35.8-10.1).

Our Nation’s Future Leaders
• Navy’s 33 seniors received their service assignments on Nov. 30. Graduates of the Naval Academy serve a minimum of five years in the Navy or Marine Corps, while pilots serve eight years upon earning their wings.
•    25 seniors will be commissioned Ensigns in the United States Navy (11 Surface Warfare, five Naval Flight Officers, three Surface Warfare Nuclear,  two Intelligence, one Supply Corps, one Submarines, one Pilot and one Special Warfare), while eight will be commissioned 2nd Lieutenants in the Marine Corps (seven Marine Corps Ground and one Marine Corps Pilot)
• Graduation for the Class of 2012 is Tuesday, May 29.

Service Assignments For The Class of 2012
Player, Service Assignment
Brian Ackerman, Surface Warfare (Nuclear)
Bruce Andrews, Supply Corps
Ryan Basford, Surface Warfare
Thomas Batchelder, Surface Warfare
Brian Blick, Marine Corps Ground
Max Blue, Marine Corps Ground
Alex Boddiford, Surface Warfare
Hal Bowron, Surface Warfare
Brady DeMell, Surface Warfare
Delvin Diggs, Suface Warfare (Nuclear)
Neil Doogan, USMC Ground
Eric Douglass, Surface Warfare
John Dowd, Submarines
Zach Dryden, Surface Warfare
Doug Furman, Navy Pilot
Mason Graham, Marine Corps Ground
Hal Hunter, Intelligence
Caleb King, Naval Flight Officer
Jared Marks, Marine Corps Ground
John McCauley, Surface Warfare
Kwesi Mitchell, Naval Flight Officer
Gary Myers, Naval Flight Officer
Torri Preston, Marine Corps Ground
Kriss Proctor, Naval Flight Officer
Aaron Santiago, Surface Warfare (Nuclear)
Jarred Shannon, Surface Warfare
Eric Stein, Naval Flight Officer
Mike Stukel, Marine Corps Ground
David Sumrall, Intelligence
Jon Teague, Marine Corps Pilot
Alexander Teich, Special Warfare (SEAL)
Jabaree Tuani, Surface Warfare
David Wright, Surface Warfare

President At The Army-Navy Game
• With this year’s game being played in Washington, D.C., it is appropriate to look back at past Army-Navy games attended by the President of the United States.  It is expected that President Barack Obama will attend this year’s game.
• Eight different Presidents have attended the Army-Navy game a total of 18 times.  Harry S. Truman attended the most Army-Navy games, going to seven straight from 1945-1951.  Teddy Roosevelt was the first President to attend an Army-Navy game, as he attended the 1901 contest.
• Only once have both the President and Vice President attended the Army-Navy game.  In 1961, President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson were on hand in Philadelphia.
• Navy is 7-9-2 in games against Army in which the President attends and has won the last two.
• The last time the President attended the Army-Navy game, the Mids dealt Army a 34-0 loss in Philadelphia in 2008 with President George W. Bush looking on.

President Of The United States At The Army-Navy Game
Year    President    Result
1901    Theodore Roosevelt    Army, 11-5
1905    Theodore Roosevelt    Tie, 6-6
1913    Woodrow Wilson    Army, 22-9
1924    Calvin Coolidge    Army, 12-0
1945    Harry Truman    Army, 32-13
1946    Harry Truman    Army, 21-18
1947    Harry Truman    Army, 21-0
1948    Harry Truman    Tie, 21-21
1949    Harry Truman    Army, 38-0
1950    Harry Truman    Navy, 14-2
1951    Harry Truman    Navy, 42-7
1961    John Kennedy    Navy, 13-7
1962    John Kennedy    Navy, 34-14
1974    Gerald Ford    Navy, 19-0
1996    Bill Clinton    Army, 28-24
2001    George W. Bush    Army, 26-17
2004    George W. Bush    Navy, 42-13
2008    George W. Bush    Navy, 34-0

Future Army-Navy Sites Announced
• The city of Philadelphia has been synonymous with the Army-Navy football classic over the years, hosting 82 of the previous 111 service academy battles. Army and Navy will be building on that rich tradition in the years ahead with Philadelphia serving as the host of “America’s Game” for four of the next seven years at Lincoln Financial Field (2012, 2013, 2015, 2017).
•    It was also announced that for the first time in series history the game will be played on the doorstep of the nation’s capital as the 2011 Army-Navy game presented by USAA will be played at FedEx Field, while the 2014 and 2016 games will be played at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium.
•    The process for securing a long-term home for future Army-Navy football games officially began in August of 2008 with the service academies distributing a formal “Request for Proposal.”
•    The first Army-Navy game was played in 1890 at West Point and the second in Annapolis one year later. In 1899, Philadelphia’s Franklin Field became the game site. The “City of Brotherly Love” has dominated as host city for the Army-Navy game since that time. There have been 14 different venues that have played host to the event, four of those located in Philadelphia and two in Baltimore.
•    Municipal Stadium, renamed John F. Kennedy Stadium in 1964, has housed the game the most times – 41 in all – that included 35 straight games between 1945 and 1979. It was first played there in 1936.
•    Franklin Field ranks second on the list of Army-Navy game sites with its total of 18, followed by Veterans Stadium with 17 and the Polo Grounds in New York City with nine. “The Vet” first hosted the game in 1980 and did so through 2001 with all but five exceptions.
•    Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia has hosted the game seven times (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010).
•    Army has also battled Navy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., in 1983; at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2002; and at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in 2000 and 2007.
•    For the 16th-straight year, CBS Sports will televise the Army-Navy classic to a national and worldwide (via American Forces Network) audience on Dec. 10. The Army-Navy game will be the only major college football game played the second Saturday in December.

Showtime And CBS Sports Team Up To Produce All-Access Docu-Drama On Navy And Army Football
• SHOWTIME Sports and CBS Sports are teaming up for A Game Of Honor, a two-hour exclusive docu-drama revealing an unprecedented look at America’s two oldest military academies – The United States Military Academy and The United States Naval Academy. As the midshipmen and cadets prepare to serve their country and participate in a rivalry unmatched by any other in sports, the Army-Navy football game presented by USAA, SHOWTIME will capture an all-access look at their unique season-long journey. The in-depth docu-drama will be co-produced and promoted by SHOWTIME Sports and CBS Sports in conjunction with CBSSports.com and will premiere Dec. 21 on SHOWTIME, 10 days after this year’s Army-Navy game on CBS, Dec. 10.
•    SHOWTIME will have behind-the-scenes access to both academies and their respective football teams for six months leading up to the Army-Navy game, as well as during the game and immediately following. With so many stories to tell, SHOWTIME will air exclusive content across multiple CBS platforms including a special preview show about the making of the documentary on Wednesday, November 23 on SHOWTIME; with a network television premiere of the preview show on CBS Sports on Dec. 3. In addition, CBSSports.com will air an exclusive 10-episode weekly original web series beginning Oct. 17.
•    The docu-drama and web series will capture the personal stories of this unique group of men who are rivals on the football field and brothers in arms on the battlefield. As the young men at Army and Navy endure a much different athletic experience than other Division I football players, A Game of Honor will capture the dedication, discipline and determination demanded of the cadets and midshipmen who are members of these storied football programs. A Game of Honor reveals their unique journey from summer training to the demands of an elite classroom education to the weekly preparations for the football field, all while training to serve their country in a time of war. This rigorous passage culminates with the playing of the annual Army-Navy game, this year from the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C.
•    CBS Sports’ Creative Director, Pete Radovich, who also serves as coordinating producer for the Emmy-Award winning SHOWTIME series Inside the NFL, will serve as director of the series. Radovich will co-produce with CBS Sports Coordinating Producer Steve Karasik.
•    “We are honored to broadcast the Army-Navy football game every year on CBS Sports and thrilled to team with SHOWTIME, CBSSports.com and our long-standing partners at the Naval and Military academies on ‘A Game of Honor,'” said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports. “Using unparalleled access provided by the academies, this project allows us to go in-depth across multiple CBS platforms to tell inspiring, compelling and unique stories — both on and off the field — about the 2011 cadets and midshipmen.”
•    “Teaming up with CBS on any production or project has always resulted in a big time and first class end result,” said Navy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. “This venture could not be more well received by the Academy and the Athletic Department. The story to be told will be emotional, motivating, inspiring, and featured in a way that it will bring an even greater appreciation for some very special people who are some of our nation’s and intercollegiate athletics’ finest leaders.”

Navy Partners with Nike for Army-Navy Game Uniform
•    Before their fight songs ring throughout the stadiums and they storm the fields, nine of the top college football programs will lace their cleats and buckle their chin straps while donning uniquely designed, highly advanced Nike uniforms for at least one game during the 2011-12 season.
•    The fully integrated uniform system, which the University of Oregon debuted during the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, incorporates the latest in performance innovation and design from the world’s most renowned athletic outfitter.  The redesigned base layer facilitates the uniform’s overall innovation, delivering the ultimate in lightweight protection for maximum speed. Strategically placed seams, pads and cooling zones also help minimize distraction and optimize protective coverage.
•    The teams selected to sport the 2011 Nike Pro Combat system of dress uniforms include Army, Boise State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan State, Navy, Ohio State, Oregon, and Stanford.
•    While each school’s uniform delivers the same superior lightweight performance and protection, each will tell a different story through its design. Nike worked closely with each university to bring relevant elements of the school’s rich heritage into a distinguished, modern uniform design. The uniforms capture each team’s unique character.
•    “The support and positive relationship that Navy athletics has enjoyed over the years with Nike is extraordinary.” Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk said. “Being a part of this exciting initiative further illustrates the mutual respect that is so much a part of the way we present our product.  The Midshipmen are inspired by the technical innovations and appearance that Nike puts forth through the presentation of their equipment and apparel.  Nike continues to motivate all of our teams to compete at the highest level with great success.  This year, the Army-Navy Game will be a showcase for the direction that our partnership will be heading in the future.”
•    The integrated uniform system provides enhanced durability and innovation from the inside out.  Robust padding without the bulk offers optimal low-profile impact protection specifically throughout the crucial “hit zone” between the knees and shoulders. Nike Pro Combat Deflex padding has also been integrated in the hip and knee areas of the pant for crucial impact protection that stays in place. The base layer now features customizable protection, incorporating a thin, incredibly strong carbon fiber plate that can be placed on the thigh padding where needed.
•    The uniform system design also emphasizes improved thermoregulation, including the Nike Pro Combat Deflex padding layer, which is constructed with fabric selected for its ability to help keep the body cool and wick away sweat – making the uniform, and player, lighter and dryer. The jerseys are made of four-way stretch woven twill that sheds moisture. A Flywire collar eliminates two layers of fabric for improved breathability, providing a more stable anchor to keep the jersey in place.

Dowd A Finalist For The William V. Campbell Trophy
• Navy senior guard John Dowd is one of 16 college football players named to the 2011 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Class and is now a finalist for the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the nation’s premier scholar-athlete.
•    The NFF’s National Scholar-Athlete program, launched in 1959, is the first initiative in history to award scholar-athletes postgraduate scholarships for their combined athletic, academic and leadership abilities. This year’s class members find themselves in good company, as past National Scholar-Athletes include former NFL standout Derrick Brooks (Florida St.); actor Mark Harmon (UCLA); NASA astronaut Leland Melvin (Richmond); former Dateline NBC anchor Stone Phillips (Yale); chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, Billy Payne (Georgia); famed NFL quarterback Steve Young (BYU); and Heisman Trophy winners Terry Baker (Oregon St.), Gary Beban (UCLA), Doug Flutie (Boston College) and Tim Tebow (Florida).
•    Each finalist will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship at the 54th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 6 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, and one of the 16 will be announced as the 22nd recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy. Named in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia and the 2004 recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal, the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship.
•    Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The 127 semifinalists for the award were announced on Sept. 29.

Dowd Named One Of 10 Finalists For The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award
• Navy senior offensive guard John Dowd has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2011 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.  Dowd is a three-year letterwinner and two-year starter at offensive guard for the Mids and carries a 3.91 GPA in Mechanical Engineering.  He is a two-time Academic All-American and has a chance to become the first Navy football player in school history to be named a First-Team Academic All-American in consecutive years.
•    An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
•    Fan votes, which were conducted through Dec. 5, will be combined with media and Div. I FBS head coaches’ votes to determine the winner.
•    Lowe’s, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, will announce the Senior CLASS Award® winner during the 2011 football bowl season. Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs won the award last year.

Football Bowl Subdivision Finalists For The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award
Emmanuel Acho, Linebacker, Texas
Jake Bequette, Defensive End, Arkansas
Drew Butler, Punter, Georgia
Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Michigan State
Austin Davis, Quarterback, Southern Miss
John Dowd, Guard, Navy
Chase Minnifield, Cornerback, Virginia
Dan Persa, Quarterback, Northwestern
Nate Potter, Offensive Tackle, Boise State
Dawson Zimmerman, Punter, Clemson

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Dale Hunter, Marcus Johansson, Mike Knuble

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Caps Fall in Hunter’s Debut

Posted on 29 November 2011 by Ed Frankovic

“Baby steps,  I’m doing the work!”  – Bill Murray in What About Bob?

Baby steps. That is where the Washington Capitals are right now after losing 2-1 to a very good St. Louis Blues team at the Verizon Center on Tuesday night. Nicklas Backstrom scored an early goal on a nice feed from Alexander Ovechkin but defensive zone breakdowns led to two Blues tallies to spoil Dale Hunter’s coaching debut. The Caps are now 12-10-1 and will face Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night in DC.

Here are the highlights, quotes, and analysis of a game that saw the Blues improve to 8-1-2 since they hired Ken Hitchcock to be their new coach:

– The Caps played with energy tonight, but it wasn’t focused in the right places. They didn’t get enough phyiscal pressure on the Blues defense and they weren’t getting to the front of the Blues net to create in close scoring chances. They started slow and got better as the game went on, which is understandable given the system tweaks and emotional roller coaster they have endured in the last 48 hours with the coaching change. However, it was not enough to get a victory.

“It happens with transition. They don’t have it down pat yet and I think they got better as the game went on and they competed real hard. That’s the most important thing and that’s what you need to [do to] win,” commented Hunter on his teams execution on Tuesday.

“When you play for a coach for four or five years, you get used to certain things and when somebody else comes in and switches it up, some things on the ice just become second nature and now you have to think a little more and adjust on the fly a little more. The habits of work ethic, supporting the puck, moving your feet, getting pucks out, getting pucks in, those sorts of habits should stay with us. [We’ve] just got to try to pick up a few more good ones,” added Brooks Laich on how the change behind the bench impacted the Caps play.

– On the first Blues goal, both Joel Ward and Jason Chimera made costly giveaways on the same shift and the result was a TJ Oshie tally that tied the game up just five and a half minutes after the Capitals had grabbed a first period lead. The game winning goal came off of a big Tomas Vokoun (28 saves) rebound and Dennis Wideman missed the puck above the crease trying to tie up Patrick Berglund. #21 moved the puck to Matt D’Agostini who took the biscuit around the cage and wrapped it home 8:54 into period two. That would be all St. Louis goaltender Jaroslav Halak (18 saves) would need to prevail at the Verizon Center once again. Defensive zone lapses have been something that has plagued Washington this year and it cost them again. Overall though, the Caps did a better job of limiting odd man rushes, something Buffalo and other opponents have feasted on recently against them. So despite the breakdowns, there was some improvement in the defensive play of the Caps on Tuesday.

“I thought we limited chances pretty well, better than we have in the last two weeks. We still have room to improve – the goals against. Our two mistakes, our line was on for one of them. That puck [has] got to get out twice, we didn’t get it out and it winds up in the back of our net, so it’s baby steps,” added Laich, who was the center with Ward and Chimera on the first goal.

– Alexander Semin (2 shots, 3 takeaways, only 1 giveaway, no penalties) had one of his better games since early in the season. He worked hard and competed on the boards. Hunter put him on the ice in the final minute and he nearly helped get Washington the game tying goal by out battling a couple of Blues in the corner. #28 had only 14:37 of ice time and his Russian friend, Ovechkin, only logged 16:46 but #32 had some good logic on why the Gr8’s ice time was what it was.

“In the second period there were a lot of penalties and he wasn’t killing, so he didn’t play as much. I thought he was pretty much out there a lot in the third,” said Hunter.

– St. Louis is really playing well and they do a great job of skating and taking away time and space. They put enormous back pressure on the opposition and it is easy to see why they are rolling right now. They deserve a lot of credit for why the Caps were held to only 19 shots.

“We played a heck of a hockey game. We created a lot of scoring chances. We didn’t give up anything in two periods. We created a lot for ourselves and we’re starting to dial in the way we need to play to win hockey games. When you play this well, it’s a good feeling,” said Hitchcock, a Stanley Cup winning coach with the Dallas Stars in 1999, after the contest.

– So the Caps recent losing ways continue but there were some things to like in this game. Hunter was fairly upbeat afterwards with his final analysis and Ovechkin wasn’t hitting any panic buttons either.

“Next step [is] to play hard like we play tonight, especially in the third period. I think, I would say, energy was there, we make some hits, we did what he [Coach Dale Hunter] ask us to do and I think if we going to play the same way we going to get some success,” finished the Gr8.

Once again, baby steps.

Notes: The Caps had 8 shots in the last 20 minutes after getting only 11 in the first 40. Backstrom had a great chance to tie it up late with Vokoun pulled but couldn’t connect…Washington lost the face-off battle 22-21 but that was decent considering they lost eight of the first 11 draws…Marcus Johansson sustained a hand stinger in period two and missed a lot of time. He played only 11:02 as a result…John Carlson led the team in ice time with 23:30 but he did go back lazily late in the third period to allow a Blues forward to beat him to the puck and wipe out what would have been icing. I imagine Hunter will let #74 hear about that one…St. Louis out hit the Caps 35-32. Ovechkin had 4 hits as did Chimera…the Blues went 0 for 4 on the power play. The Caps were 0 for 1 in only 20 seconds of man advantage time…after the game the Capitals announced that former Washington defensemen Jim Johnson will take over for Bob Woods as an assistant coach. Johnson’s job is obviously to get the defensemen to play better.

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Caps Beat Pens Thanks to Vokoun

Posted on 13 October 2011 by Ed Frankovic

When Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee signed Tomas Vokoun last July, there was a lot of talk about the Caps getting a goalie who could flat out steal games. Well on Thursday night in Pittsburgh, that is exactly what happened as Vokoun made 39 saves to lead the Capitals to a 3-2 overtime victory. Defensemen Dennis Wideman netted the game winner on Washington’s only power play of the contest after Penguins forward James Neal had tied this one up at two on the power play with 3:45 left in regulation.

Here are the highlights and analysis of a game that saw the Penguins dominate most of the contest:

– Michal Neuvirth likely would have had this start given his recent success against the Pens, but when he came down with a lower body injury that forced the Caps to recall Braden Holtby from Hershey today and give Vokoun the chance to get wins in consecutive starts. The 35 year old Czech delivered, building on his great OT and shootout performance in Monday’s 6-5 victory over Tampa Bay. Vokoun didn’t have to be spectacular but he was very solid and didn’t give the Penguins many second chances. If the Caps can improve their play in their own end, and they were pretty bad tonight, just think how good this goalie could be for this team?

– Evgeni Malkin had an outstanding game for Pittsburgh. His two cross ice seam passes set up James Neal’s two tallies. One of the reasons #71 was able to make those plays is because the Washington players were not playing positionally sound or smart in their own end. On the first goal, both Alexander Semin and Marcus Johansson chase the puck carrier leaving the back side open. In the first three games we’ve seen opponents exploit the Capitals habit of over chasing and/or watching the puck carrier. The Capitals have to learn to play better without the puck in their own zone and clog the passing lanes and not over commit. I imagine Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau and assistant coach Blaine Forsythe will be showing lots of video on Friday to try and correct these d-zone breakdowns.

– The Capitals players have talked about being the team with the better work ethic in every game. Tonight they were soundly defeated in that category. The Penguins out shot the Caps 12-3 in the first period and 18-3 in the third. It was only in the middle frame that the Capitals had the upper hand, outshooting Pittsburgh, 11-9. I am not sure why the Capitals were so flat early on but one of the reasons for the third period letdown was the Arron Asham-Jay Beagle fight. Beagle had just coincidentally knocked off the helmet of Kris Letang, which would earn him a roughing penalty, and Asham took exception calling on #83 to fight. Beagle, who is definitely not a fighter, but as he told me on media day last Thursday knows he will need to do so at times, was floored with a couple of rights and went to the ice bleeding. He had to be helped off of the rink afterwards but that didn’t stop Asham from making a couple of classless gestures. Asham admitted after the game that he got caught up in the moment, but still, to celebrate after knocking out a non-fighter was totally uncalled for. The fight clearly negatively impacted the Capitals, who had played 25 decent minutes of hockey in a row, since they struggled mightily the rest of the way until overtime.

– Alexander Ovechkin, after a subpar opening two games, made a difference in this one. He deflected in Green’s point shot early in the third period to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead and he drew the only penalty officially called on the Penguins in the game. That came in overtime when he faked Jordan Staal out of his jock in the neutral zone and #11 tripped the Gr8. On the 4 on 3 power play Green hit the right pipe but on the ensuing rush Wideman took a nice feed from Nicklas Backstrom (two assists) and buried it past former Capitals goalie Brent Johnson (16 saves).

– When you are outworked, you normally will find yourself on the short end of the stick in total number of power plays. The Penguins received five while Washington only had one, although I do think the Pens got away with a few things, especially some goalie interference by Chris Kunitz. In addition, Tyler Kennedy did hit Backstrom in the head in the third period, similiar to the Beagle shot on Letang, although #19’s lid stayed on so maybe it didn’t look so bad to the blurry eyed zebras? (Note: the referees initially waved off Ovechkin’s goal, they thought it hit the cross bar). It is hard to argue about the calls against the Caps, they were of the lazy or not too smart variety. Brooks Laich’s cross check on Malkin came after a failed clear. What made that situation even worse was that Green already had lost his stick so what the Caps should’ve done was ice the puck.  Instead they got running around and eventually found themselves shorthanded. The last penalty though, on Troy Brouwer, might have been the worst. The Caps were up a goal and he needlessly hauled down a Pens player in the neutral zone. That one ended up allowing Neal to tie the game. Brouwer did make a nice play on Ovechkin’s goal, he was in front of Johnson battling with Zbynek Michalek providing traffic.

– In summary, the Caps were fortunate to win this contest and move to 3-0. Washington has been playing with fire by going to extra time in each tilt and they have had some very poor play in their own zone. The good news though, is they are getting balanced production in their lineup and Boudreau is not having to put his big guns out on the ice for extended minutes. Green has already seen a reduction in his ice time and that should only keep him fresher and hopefully injury free.

Notes: Steve Whyno of The Washington Times tweeted that Asham had 83 career NHL fights while this was Beagle’s first…the Caps lost the faceoff battle 26-23 but Jeff Halpern went 6-2…Mike Knuble scored the Caps first goal by crashing the net hard…Karl Alzner had another strong game and picked up his third assist of the season…the Penguins were without Sidney Crosby, although he has been cleared for contact effective today, and defensemen Brooks Orpik…Washington is now 11-0-2 in their last 13 regular season games against Pittsburgh (h/t @SkyKerstein of DC’s 106.7 THE FAN)…next up for the Caps are the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night at the Verizon Center.

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The Orioles will be better next year — and more new lies after The MacFailure

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Our cool, growing (and still free!) sports media company had another great B2B-Business To Business event last week in Towson with @CoachBillick and an old friend and reader of WNST.net approached me and asked the eternal Orioles question:

“So, Nasty, I’ve read all of the issues regarding the Orioles and Mike Flanagan and Andy MacPhail and Free The Birds, but what are we as fans going to do? You need to offer solutions…”

Well, virtually every human being I’ve spoken to over the last three years – and I still have a ton of friends in upper management at Major League Baseball and all over the league — has concurred: this just isn’t going to change on the field as long as Peter Angelos is involved in Baltimore baseball ownership.

But, of course, I came to that conclusion five years ago when I did the original Free The Birds rally and campaign because in my mind – and time has proven me correct – this was long past the point of no return with the local community and most people of integrity within the baseball community in 2006.

And what I’ve come to realize is that this REALLY bugs the hell out of my internet critics – the fact that I’ve been right and honest and accurate all along.

I don’t think it took any “orange Nostradamus” or 19 chapters and 75,000 words worth of my book to predict that this civic nightmare would continue given Angelos’ tactics, mindset, age and propensity through his 82 years on the planet to want to fight with people. He sues people for a living.

I knew a long time ago that it was getting worse and not better. I knew it was going to become an easy $50 million annual profit center given the deal that Angelos negotiated with Major League Baseball once the Washington Nationals were hatched. I wanted to believe he was telling the truth in 2006 but he clearly wasn’t honest and indeed got the “last laugh.”

But I must say my worst fears of where this sick tale was going in 2006 never really factored in the possibility that Mike Flanagan would be committing suicide five years later in the middle of a fifth consecutive last-place season.

But I’m not at all surprised that the team has finished in last place every year since Free The Birds.

And I’ve now spent four full years without a press pass for this last-place debacle and sick civic disgrace while the team’s head of baseball operations runs away from me at public functions when I ask a few questions.

I’ve been asking myself for a month how the Orioles are going to handle this offseason of obvious unparalleled despair. Despite the kid gloves Captain Profit Andy MacPhail has been treated with here by his local media co-workers who are disguised as journalists — his tenure here is now complete and was a large, profitable “MacFailure” .

He’s slithering out of town in the dead of the night after changing exactly NOTHING about the Baltimore Orioles in real terms, other than the profit line. Oh, and there’s the spring training home in Sarasota that was 15 years overdue – and now another publicly-aided profit center — I don’t see anything about the farm system, the future or the current state of the roster that’s appreciably better than before.

I know this much: four years, four last-place finishes. That’s the record. It is what it is.

The whole franchise stinks.

What happens to Buck Showalter is anyone’s guess but word is he’ll be the new poobah in charge of “baseball operations” at 10:07 p.m. after Red Sox playoff magic leaves the Charm City – and all that really means is that he’s the next victim who will make a few million and go back to where he came from (in this case Dallas) a few years later with a tainted resume and some more losses and evenings of angst.

Of course, if he really thinks Angelos is committed to winning a World Series, angst is only the beginning.

Just 13 months ago Showalter said he knew what he was getting into with Angelos

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Nnamdi Asomugha to the Ravens?

Posted on 11 January 2011 by Michael Schwartz

One of the best cornerbacks in the NFL is Nnamdi Asomugha and he will be a free agent in the 2011 free agent market. There are many teams who will want this cornerback and one of which is the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens would love to get a shutdown corner to add to their great defense. This year Asomugha was thrown at 27 times, and only 13 of these were completions. Teams obviously don’t want to throw near him, and if the Ravens got him then they could put him on one side with no safety help and then have Reed on the other side ball hawking. The only thing that will keep him out of Baltimore will be the money; the Ravens generally won’t go out and pay a player 8-10 million a year. Assuming that Asumougha will get paid like Darrelle Revis who just got a 4 year, 32 million dollar contract this year. He will likely make the same amount if not a little more. He deserves the money but the Ravens also have to resign Haloti Ngata who is one of the best if not the best defensive tackle in the NFL. They may resign Todd Heap, but other than that they have guys like Kelly Gregg, Chris Carr, Fabian Washington, T.J Houshmanzadah, and Jarett Johnson. They will likely let Gregg, Housh, and Washington go. They will sign Johnson and Carr for a decent price, but they would still be able to get Asumougha. This would put them over the top as a defense since for the past couple of years; they have wanted to get a good corner. Ozzie will definitely look into getting him but the Ravens will have to beat offers by other teams. If the Ravens could get deep into the playoffs or even the Super Bowl they would have a better chance, since Asumougha has never been in a playoff game. He would be a great accusation and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lewis, Reed, or other Ravens have contacted him and expressed interest.

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Maybe now Cleveland will leave Art Modell alone?

Posted on 09 July 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

I’m not an expert about much but Cleveland is something I know a lot about. As much as I like to have some fun with our cousins to the Midwest – it’s been a healthy rivalry ever since Art Modell stepped foot into Parking Lot D in Nov. 1995 – today a little piece of me is angry for them.

It’s true – anger is to Cleveland what fake breasts and sunshine are to California. People in Cleveland are perennially angry. They hate the Browns. They hate Art Modell. They hate losing. They hate whoever is the quarterback of the Browns. They hate that they haven’t won a championship.

They hate me.

And this morning, for the first time since Modell brought us the Ravens, they have a right to be burning 23 jerseys and “M-F-ing” Lebron James into perpetuity.

Sure, “King James” had the freedom to play wherever he wanted to play. Sure, Miami has prettier girls (although I always had a good time in Cleveland, wink, wink) and more sunshine and Chris Bosh and Dewayne Wade and Pat Riley.

But Cleveland held something intrinsic and legitimate that Lebron James sold away in one sentence last night, something that can’t be bought with a check from South Florida (even if it’s just with the tax money saved and put back into his deep, Ocean Drive pockets).

It’s called authenticity.

Lebron had it the way Cal Ripken had it and Tony Gwynn had it. The way Derek Jeter, despite being an outsider, will always have it in New York and Kobe Bryant will have it in Los Angeles, just like Magic Johnson before him.

But even more so, Lebron James was “one of them.” He was an Akron kid who never left home and created a basketball craze in Cleveland that you’d have to see to believe. There’s a whole city of commerce and bars and jerseys and enthusiasm in a forever depressed and decaying community.

It gave people in Cleveland the most precious commodity that sports provides and one this is sorely lacking in Baltimore regarding baseball: hope.

In my private times with Art Modell, it’s the one thing he always talked about that was essential for any fan of a sport or a franchise. If you have hope, you have something that gets people interested.

I don’t need to tell you that Cleveland has been the armpit of America for years and hope is a wonderful thing for depressed communities.

This is where I should tell you that I really love Cleveland. I’ve gone there religiously for almost 20 years and despite having some of the worst sports fan in country (only contested by Philadelphia, in real terms) I pull for Cleveland to at least not be a doormat.

Cleveland and Baltimore are a lot alike. And it wouldn’t take you a few hours there chatting with the people to see it and feel it.

In my humble opinion, “Cleveland rocks!” (Just don’t tell anybody I said that…)

Cleveland was spurned last night. And they’re angry. And they’re burning jerseys. And they should. Hell, it’s what I’d be doing if I gave my soul to Lebron James and the Cavaliers over the last five years.

For the same reasons we collectively booed Mark Teixeira last Opening Day at Camden Yards, the people of Cleveland will forever hold a special place in their hearts for the anger and outrage of what Lebron James has chosen to do.

Like any other self-interested mega-star who is treated like a “King,” Lebron James eschewed any civic responsibility and chose to abandon his community.

Tsk, tsk…

Most of you know, I used to be a pretty huge NBA fan. The last 10 years I’ve chosen to ignore it and it’s been a fine decade for me. I think the players come off as a bunch of collective douche bags, the games are awful to watch and I have zero interest in the personalities or the standings.

But, this isn’t about Lebron James or basketball or the NBA. This is about doing the right thing. The thing that’s bigger than you. The thing that REALLY makes you “special.”

Lebron James chose selfish. And any 25-year old is allowed that privilege.

But Cal Ripken didn’t run off to the Dodgers. And Tony Gwynn didn’t run off to the Mets.

And they will forever reap the rewards of their “sacrifice.”

Lebron James, the man, will forever be remembered for an absurd evening of a July “Lebronathon” on ESPN where he took every negative stereotype consistent with “Rod Tidwell-ish” behavior and displayed it on worldwide TV and chose THE WRONG PLACE!

There was no Jerry Maguire, no happy landing for this imbecile. Wait’ll that first Christmas Day when the Miami Heat come to Cleveland to play a lunch time game. Just wait…

There will be a price to pay for the rest of eternity for Lebron James, even if he wins seven rings and surpasses Michael Jordan — and only time will tell how that script will be written.

But last night was memorable – for all of the wrong reasons. The NBA jumped the shark for a lot of people last night with that display.

I know I’ll always cheer against him. The Miami Heat are interesting to me because they’ll be my least favorite team in my least favorite sport.

The ultimate price for Lebron James will be that he can never go home again.

Somewhere in Northern Baltimore County Art Modell has felt the weight lifted from him.

Lebron James will be the guy they burn in effigy in Cleveland for the next 20 years.

Maybe Lebron should give Art a call for some advice.

Last night, Cleveland – the city that hates — was given a fresh, new gaping wound that will probably never be healed unless the next Lebron James is on some playground in Parma Heights right now.

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Caps Sweep Penguins, 6-3

Posted on 07 April 2010 by Ed Frankovic

In a game that meant so much more to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals went into the vaunted “Igloo” and despite having to play the Pens and the referees for the 15th straight time, the Caps still managed to come out on top, 6-3. Alexander Ovechkin continued his resurgence just in time for the playoffs notching two goals and he now is tied with Sidney Crosby (1 goal, 2 assists) for the NHL goal scoring lead at 48. Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay is just one goal back. Ovechkin is also tied with Henrik Sedin of Vancouver for the Art Ross Trophy race, at 106 points, pending Vancouver’s late game vs. Colorado. The Capitals won every regular season meeting between these two teams (SWEEEEEPP!) in 2009-10 with all four contests coming since January 21st. Washington now has a staggering 118 points (53-15-12) and will finish the regular season with games against the Thrashers on Friday and Boston on Sunday at the Verizon Center.

Here are the highlights, some quotes from Ovechkin, and analysis from what I hope is the last game ever between the Caps and Pens in Mellon Arena (i.e, I wish the Pens bad luck in the playoffs):

STAT OF THE NIGHT: For the 15th straight game between these two squads, the Caps did not receive more power plays than the Penguins. In fact, in ONLY four of those contests have the number of power plays for each team been even! That is ridiculous and clearly shows an officiating bias. The shots on Tuesday were 29-28, in favor of Pittsburgh, but the Penguins had four power plays to just one for Washington (the Caps scored just 4 seconds into their PP chance on Ovechkin’s first goal). In addition to being shortchanged on power play opportunities, both blind zebras, Greg Devorski and Ian Walsh, missed a nasty elbow by Max Talbot to the head of Alexander Semin (scored his 39th goal of the season and added an assist). The Caps did get a big break though on a quick whistle that negated what would have been a Penguins goal in the second period.

Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom (3 assists), and Mike Knuble (28th goal of the season) had their second straight good game and appear to be heating up for the playoffs. The Great #8 logged 19:12 of ice time while Backstrom played 20:35 with the difference being #19’s 1:25 on the PK. Knuble played 17:33 so Caps Coach Bruce Bourdeau continues to do a good job of not overplaying his top line down the stretch.

“I think that power play goal gave me more [relief]. I had lots chances to score goals the last four games and they didn’t go in.  Finally it goes in and the last 10 minutes I just felt unbelievable ,” said the Great #8, who also praised Crosby’s play, character, and leadership after this one in addition to recognizing the Caps defense and goaltender for super play (“Varly today played unbelievable.”). By the way, Ovechkin’s second marker came into an empty net with just 0.2 seconds remaining.

Semyon Varlamov (26 saves) was very solid tonight and it was hard to fault him on the three goals allowed. The first was a laser by Crosby on the power play after Tyler Sloan gave #87 far too much room coming off of the right wing boards. The middle tally by the Pens was a Jordan Leopold point blast that was heading wide but hit Shaone Morrisonn (-2 on the evening) and bounced right through Varly’s pad while the final Pittsburgh goal was another Leopold rocket after a Caps giveaway. On that shot Morrisonn dove to the ice late and didn’t allow #40 to pick up the shot. The back-to-back wins were the first ones since December 3rd & 7th, right before he started with all of the injuries. Boudreau has to feel very good about where his goaltending is at with just two regular season games remaining. Jose Theodore is on fire again and if he somehow struggles the 2007-08 Jack Adams award winning coach knows he has a surging Varly he can put in the cage as well.

Resiliency was the key word of the night for Washington. First, they lost defenseman John Erskine to a lower body injury (h/t Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post) in the first period and #4 logged only 3:52 of ice time. After that they had to go with just five blue liners. Even more impressive was their ability to respond so quickly to Pittsburgh tallies. After Crosby’s PP marker made it 2-1 at 6:18 of the second period, Tomas Fleischmann scored just 21 seconds later on a wicked top shelf wrister that chased Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to the showers (9 saves on 12  shots). #29 proceeded to lose it in the tunnel after Coach Dan Bylsma gave him the hook. Then after Leopold put one byVarly just 49 seconds into the third period, Ovechkin responded with his power play rocket by former Capital Brent Johnson (13 saves on 15 shots) just 1:51 later to restore a two goal Washington lead.

Another key tally was Matt Bradley’s 10th of the season with just two minutes left in the second period. That goal, off of a nice passing play with Quintin Laing and Dave Steckel, came after a long stretch where the Pens were dominating play and gave Washington momentum heading into period three.

Jeff Schultz is back. #55, who seems to play his best against the Pens (+12 in last 8 games versus PIT; h/t @JapersRink), was so solid in his own end tying up several Pens around the net all game and earning a +5 for the evening (he leads the NHL at +44, h/t to Corey Masisak). In addition, Sarge added two assists and wasn’t prone to some of the sloppy giveaways he had been making over the last month. Schultz logged 25:00 of ice time to lead all Caps (Tom Poti had 24:55).

Notes: Mike Green was a scratch and apparently is “dinged up” but could have played, if really necessary..El-Bashir is reporting he will play Friday against the Thrashers…Evgeni Malkin (sick) missed the game for the Penguins as did noted head hunter, Chris Kunitz (undisclosed)..Pittburgh won the face-off battle, 29-24, with Backstrom going 8-5, Jay Beagle 7-3, and Fleischmann 3-10. Crosby was 16-12 for the Pens…Karl Alzner was recalled today but was scratched…Kris Letang and Bill Guerin were both -3 for Pittsburgh, who are now two points behind the New Jersey Devils in the race for the Atlantic Division title (NJ defeated ATL, 3-0, on Tuesday night).

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Ovechkin Leads Caps over Penguins, 6-3

Posted on 21 January 2010 by Ed Frankovic

For the first time since May 13, 2009, a blowout loss in game 7 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center, the Washington Capitals faced the Pittsburgh Penguins and despite spotting the Pens with an easy early goal (a Jose Theodore giveaway), the Caps carried the play much of the evening against the home Penguins en route to a 6-3 victory. The Capitals, who were tied at three after two periods, struck for three final stanza tallies. Alexander Ovechkin was dominant in this contest with two goals and an assist and he ran his record as Washington Capitals captain to 8-1. The Great #8 showed everyone in the league that he once again is the NHL MVP tonight, not just for his scoring but because of his two way play. Ovie was fantastic in every zone on Thursday night and you could see he really wanted this one. The victory is Washington’s 5th in a row and they are still in first place in the Eastern Conference at 32-12-6.

Let’s get right to the highlights and analysis:

MVP, MVP, MVP: Check out Alexander the Great’s stats tonight: 2 goals, 1 assist, 8 shots on net, 7 hits, and +2 in 20:39 of ice time. Ovechkin set up Mike Knuble for the Caps first goal, which was key after Theo literally gave the Penguins an easy one to take a 1-0 lead, by abusing defenseman Kris Letang and driving hard to the net. The Great #8’s shot bounced off of former Caps goalie Brent Johnson’s pads and #22 banged it home. Ovie then had a power play goal to tie this one at three in the second period and he finished the deal with an empty net goal. He was all over the ice on Thursday night.

Special Teams Perfect, on paper: The Caps power play (2 for 2) was a huge factor in the win as Ovechkin’s tally on the Capitals first man advantage knotted this one up for the third period and then Nicklas Backstrom’s sweet upstairs goal from in close gave Washington an early 5-3 final stanza advantage. On the penalty kill, the Caps were successful on all four Penguins power plays, although Kris Letang’s goal that made it 3-2 for Pittsburgh, was scored one second after rookie John Carlson came out of the penalty box (Carlson was recalled on Thursday morning to replace an injured Mike Green). It was clear that better ice made for improved passing for the Caps on the power play and they really had the Pens on their heels. Conversely, the Penguins had moments where they were very good on the man advantage but Theodore came up big when he had to, especially on Sidney Crosby early in front with the score 1-0. Overall though, Washington did a good job of keeping the Pittsburgh power play on the perimeter.

Goaltending Edge for Washington: Despite Theo’s stick handling gaffe and the bad rebound goal he gave up that resulted in Nik Johnson’s first goal of the season, #60 (35 saves) was fairly solid in the win. He did have a couple of other instances where he did not control the puck well on shots but the key was he compensated for that by making some big stops at critical junctures in the contest. At the other end, with Marc-Andre Fleury out due to a fractured finger, Johnson (28 saves) got the call for the Pens and after a decent start, I did not think Johnny was very good. His biggest mistake was going down and giving up the short side on Backstrom’s power play goal that cemented this one for Washington. To be fair though, one goal that went by him, Eric Fehr’s tally in the second period, was knocked in past him by his own defenesman, Brooks Orpik.

Winning the Draws: The Caps destroyed the Penguins in the faceoff circle, 41-25, and that helped them control the puck for most of this one. Brendan Morrison was a perfect 8-0 from the dot while Tomas Fleischmann was 11-5. Crosby took 30 face-offs and was a pitiful 10-20.

Defense Strong: Washington’s defense was still strong without their ice time and production leader, Green. I thought all three pairings were strong and even though Karl Alzner was -2 and Jeff Schultz -1, they were good together. They each received a minus on Theodore’s blunder early on and they were the pair on at the end of the Pens power play that resulted in Letang’s goal. The ice time was fairly well distributed with Tom Poti leading the way with 22:27 while Tyler Sloan had the fewest minutes, but he still logged 16:32. I thought Washington’s defenders did a good job of stepping up in the neutral zone and at their own blue line to take away the Penguins speed and transition game. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau was likely proud of his so-called “much maligned” D on Thursday night.

Game Winning Goal: Alexander Semin only played 15:42 but his lone point came on a good defensive play followed by an even better saucer pass that sent Fleischmann in on a breakaway. #14 froze Johnson and beat him upstairs to stun the home Penguins just 2:32 into period three. Flash now has 17 goals in just 39 games this season.

Overall, this was a big win for the Caps on enemy ice. It was clear that Washington wanted this one and had their legs from the get go, unlike Tuesday’s tilt against the Red Wings (Theodore won that game). Earlier in the week Boudreau called the three contests against the Flyers, Detroit, and the Penguins as a measuring stick and with a 3-0 record you have to concede that his Caps rose to the occassion, for the most part. Next up are the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night at the Verizon Center. The Coyotes, who are coached by former Cap Dave Tippett and are led by goalie Ilya Brzgalov, have had a very good season and will be the fourth tough challenge in just seven days. Phoenix is a good hockey team, but they do not have the recent playoff track record like the Flyers, Wings, and Pens, so Ovechkin and company must try to avoid an emotional let down.

That is it for me tonight, sorry for the lack of quotes, but it has been a long day but a good one for me. The Caps victory was the icing on the cake for the Frankovic family this evening as Christian Edward Frankovic was born today at 4:58 pm at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore. Yes, my son is now officially 1-0 against the Pens, have a great night!

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ESPN Fails Again – Names ’04 Trojans Greatest CFB Team of the Decade Ahead of ’01 Canes

Posted on 21 January 2010 by stevenlink

So the “greatest” sports network on the planet announced its “Team of the Decade” for college football.  With so many great teams to choose from, ESPN decided to go with…the 2004 USC Trojans?  I don’t disagree that the ’04 Trojans were an amazing football team, but they were not the greatest of the decade…that title my friends, belongs to the 2001 Miami Hurricanes.

I am not saying this based on my obvious bias towards the Hurricanes, but rather through logic and sound reasoning.  And I am willing to go that extra step and state that the 2001 Miami Hurricanes were probably the greatest collegiate football team of all time.

Normally I do not allow things like this to bother me as much as this one is, however, just imagine if ESPN broadcasted and named the top NFL defense of this past decade the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers.  Would you not be furious that the 2000 Ravens defense was not number 1 but rather a “close” number 2?  Yea, I thought you would agree with me.

Here is the link to ESPN’s article written by Pat Forde: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=forde_pat&id=4841759

Now I am not a published journalist and I like Pat Forde’s work, but I would have spent a little more than two or three sentences to explain why you chose the rankings for each team.

Not only is it a quick, I guess you call it this, analysis about each team, but the reasoning that is used is flawed.  First of all, the article makes the argument that Miami played an easier team in the BCS Championship, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, than the USC Trojans did, the Oklahoma Sooners.  Forde states that, “The Hurricanes produced an astonishing amount of pro talent and stampeded to a perfect record — but they were also slightly lessened by facing an underwhelming Nebraska team in the 2002 Rose Bowl.”

Last time I checked, neither teams, coaches, nor a playoff determined who would play in the BCS Championship game, but rather 5 computers made the decision at that time.  Isn’t this the same argument that Forde and others at ESPN have complained about for years regarding the BCS, that the BCS is imperfect?  If they complain about how imperfect the system is, then why are they holding this fact against the Hurricanes??  Way to think this all the way through guys and gals.  Sounds like Lou Holtz may have gotten to you…

If you compare the two championship games that USC and Miami played in, both teams dominated their opposition.  Forde states in his analysis of USC’s game against Oklahoma that, “The score was 38-10 at halftime for a USC team that combined dazzling offense…and brutal defense…”  However, does he make mention of Miami’s game at the half?  At halftime in the 2001 BCS Championship game, Miami was leading Nebraska 34-0…34-0!!  The final score was 37-14, but it was not indicative of how purely dominant Miami was on the football field.  Andre Johnson was catching touchdown passes as if he was already at the combine showing off his speed and hands, while Clinton Portis was storming through Nebraska’s defensive line like a fat-kid through a buffet line!!  I mean right there, using that logic, both teams are equal.  The only difference is that Miami turned it off after the half and decided not to run the score up unlike the Trojans.  If Miami wanted to, that score could have been over 60 points by the end of the game…and it is not like Miami did not score 60 plus points that season.

This brings me into my next point, why not also use the regular season to determine the greatest team?  Why just the championship game?  Did the other 11 or 12 games not count?

Below I have laid out the opponents and results for each team.  Notice I have also labeled whether an opponent either Miami or USC faced was ranked at that the time of the match-up.  Before you look, I want you to pay careful attention to the amount of games that Miami and USC won by only single-digits, how many shut-outs each team had, and how many teams Miami and USC faced that were ranked nationally.

2004 USC Trojans:

8/28 – Virginia Tech – W 24-13

9/11 – Colorado State – W 49-0

9/18 – BYU – W 42-10

9/25 – Stanford – W 31-28

10/9 – #7 California – W 23-17

10/16 – #15 Arizona State – W 45-7

10/23 – Washington – W 38-0

10/30 – Washington State – W 42-12

11/6 – Oregon State – W – 28-20

11/13 – Arizona – W 49-9

11/27 – Notre Dame – W 41-10

12/4 – UCLA – W 29-24

BCS Championship 1/4 – Oklahoma – W 55-19

 

2001 Miami Hurricanes

9/1 – Penn State – W 33-7

9/8 – Rutgers – W 61-0

9/27 – Pittsburgh – W 43-21

10/6 – Troy – W 38-7

10/13 – #14 Florida State – W 49-27

10/25 – West Virginia – W 45-3

11/3 – Temple – W 38-0

11/10 – Boston College – W 18-7

11/17 – #14 Syracuse – W 59-0

11/24 – #12 Washington – W 65-7

12/1 – #14 Virginia Tech – W 26-24

BCS Championship 1/3 – #4 Nebraska – W 37-14

 

As you can see, Miami clearly had the more dominant regular season.  The Canes’ defense shut out opponents three times to USC’s two.  Miami played 5 ranked teams while USC played only 3.  And most importantly, USC had to win 4 games by single digits while Miami had to only win 1!!  Uno!!  That right there shows dominance!!  Plus, did you notice how Miami scored over 60 points not just once, but twice that year?

Now to the players…  Again, I do not disagree that USC had players that were very good in college, but comparing them to the players and product that the 2001 Hurricanes churned out, is nothing to compare.  However, I am going to compare because I want to prove my point even more.

The article spouts off about some great players on the Trojans.  On offense: Matt Leinhart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, Ryan Kalil, Duece Lutui.  On defense: Lawrence Jackson, Mike Patterson, Shaun Cody, and Lofa Tatupu.

Sure these kids were good in college, but when they got into the NFL, almost all of them earned the mark of being OVER-RATED.  How many are Pro Bowlers and how many are NFL stars?  Let’s go one-by-one shall we?

Matt Leinhart – He got drafted in the first round by the Arizona Cardinals and was suppose to be their young savior.  The Cardinals bring in the ever-ageless Kurt Warner to back-up Leinhart and teach him how to be a NFL quarterback.  But wait, who is starting for the Cardinals now?  Who was the quarterback that took them to their first ever Super Bowl appearance?  Was it USC’s Leinhart???  Nope, it would be the back-up they brought in who out-performed Leinhart in almost every aspect of the game…Leinhart = Over-rated

Reggie Bush – Not only is he still under investigation regarding the alleged NCAA violations he broke while at USC, but who would have thought that the most electrifying running-back (RB) in college football would be the second-string RB on the New Orleans Saints?  The fact that he is known more for his punt and kick-off returns in the NFL rather than his RB skills and prowess, is embarrasing enough.  Also, the kid can’t stay healthy…Reggie Bush = Overrated

LenDale White – Okay, so he had one good season, but he’s still a dud.  He is a not a starter and will not be a starter anywhere else.  Even after he lost those 30 pounds or something this past offseason he still can’t outrun a 340 pount defensive lineman…

Steve Smith – Congrats Mr. Smith…after about 3 years or so in the NFL you have finally emerged as a legitimate wide-receiver.  Some thought it would never happen.  I still think you should credit Mr. Manning for how he used you as his safety net.

Dwayne Jarrett – You’re kidding me right?  Anyone reading this blog know what team this guy plays for??  If you guessed the Carolina Panthers, then you know your NFL.  He was drafted to replace Mushin Mohammed who left the Panthers for the Bears.  After Mushin’s contract was up with the Bears, the Panthers quickly brought him back because Jarrett has been a complete bust.  Dwayne Jarrett = Overrated

Ryan Kalil, Duece Lutui??  Need I go any further with two players that 90% of NFL fans have never heard of?

And now for the amazing defense…  Out of the list of names listed, only one has made a semi-name for himself and that is Tatupu.  Don’t tell any Seahawk fans this, but he is an overrated Middle-Linebacker who does not have the strength or speed to be dominant in the NFL.  Does anyone know what teams Lawrence Jackson, Mike Patterson, or Shaun Cody play for?  If you do, please report that information to the USC Booster Club as they have been missing.

This is just an utter travesty to place this team before the Miami Hurricanes of 2001.  If you were to match up the 2001 Canes versus the 2004 Trojans, I guarantee that the 2001 Canes would win.  And if there was not the pass-interference call in the 2002 BCS Championship game against Miami (that was an improper flag) Miami would have won that Championship and should also be ahead of the 2004 Trojans.  I digress…

Here is a list of players that played on Miami’s 2001 team and that are so well-known, that I do not need to list and explain them like I had to with the Trojans.

Clinton Portis (WAS), Jeremy Shockey (NO), Andre Johnson (HOU), Kellen Winslow Jr. (TB), Bryant McKinnie (MIN), Jerome McDougle (PHI), William Joseph (NYG), Vince Wilfork (NE), D.J. Williams (DEN), Jonathan Vilma (NO), Phillip Buchanan (DET), Sean Taylor (R.I.P.)…and last but not least ED “The Real Deal” REED!!!  Oh…I think he plays for the Baltimore Ravens.  And I could go on, but I have decided not to…

This blog has gone on long enough…but this is just outrageous!  It once again proves that ESPN knows nothing about sports, other than how to televise them.

The 2001 Miami Hurricanes are by far the greatest team of the past decade, and are arguably the greatest team ever assembled in the history of collegiate football.  How about them apples Lou Holtz?!?!? HAHA!!

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Death of Eagles Jim Johnson is hitting Harbaugh hard tonight

Posted on 28 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I went to Westminster today and hung out for an hour. It’s always great to know that football season is here and the games, tailgates, travel and fun of the NFL campaign is upon us again. (Just to get geared up, I’ve been reading John Steadman’s book, “From Ravens To Colts.” God, I miss Steadman a lot!)

I even got to spend some quality time with Lenny Moore. Video is in the vault to the right…I’d embed it here but it’s not the appropriate place for it.

About 15 minutes ago my wife called me to tell me that Jim Johnson died. I just Tweeted it and I thought I’d throw a quick note together because I feel like I want to share my “link” to Jim Johnson.

And this is sure to get complicated.

But let me say that I actually pulled John Harbaugh up after practice today at 10:45 a.m. and specifically asked him about Jim Johnson. And Harbs said: “I’m not hearing anything good. I wish I could say I did.”

I didn’t know Jim Johnson. I never met him.

But, WOW, do I know a lot of people who do and people who really thought the world of him.

Let’s start with John Harbaugh. They worked together in Philadelphia for a decade before Harbaugh, the lowly special teams coach “passed” the 67-year old Johnson, who was once interviewed by the Arizona Cardinals for a job. Johnson’s claim to fame is being a blitz genius and a guy whose defense took the Eagles to multiple NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl in Jacksonville.

In addition, Jim Harbaugh was the quarterback of the mid-1990’s Ted Marchibroda Colts. Jim Johnson was the defensive coordinator there. Tony Siragusa played for Jim Johnson in Indianapolis as well.

Then there’s the Philadelphia Eagles and media folks in the city, guys like Brian Baldinger who just loved Jim Johnson and learned from him.

Last Friday, I went to breakfast with the Chief Marketing Officer of the Washington Capitals, a guy named Tim McDermott, who came on my show two weeks ago to promote the Sept. 21st Capitals Festival in D.C. to kickoff the season. An hour after I left him, his brother, Sean McDermott (who also worked with John Harbaugh with Andy Reid in Philadelphia), was named defensive coordinator of the Eagles.

These are all quality people who loved Jim Johnson immensely and respected his work and work ethic through an entire life as football coach and a teacher. If you don’t take anything else I say seriously, believe this: football coaches are my favorite people on the planet. I’ve met dozens and dozens of NFL coaches and some of them are my best friends “away from work.” I can’t say that I’ve met a handful that I haven’t liked and learned something from over the years.

I know I would’ve really liked Jim Johnson, too. I’m sorry I never got the chance.

He leaves behind a heckuva legacy and it’s a sad evening for many people in my life who knew Johnson and really loved him. His legacy is one of working with and being admired by many, many people.

Here’s a press release the Ravens just issued and a statement from Harbs:

JOHN HARBAUGH ON THE PASSING OF EAGLES’ DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR JIM JOHNSON

“I loved Jim Johnson. This is a sad day for so many people who were touched by this great man. Ingrid and I, the Harbaugh family, and the Ravens have Jim’s wife, Vicky, and the Johnson family in our thoughts and prayers. Jim was a tremendous teacher of football and life. He had a special ability to bring out the best in people while getting you to see the best in yourself. He saw potential and developed it. He made me believe I could coach at this level. In football, he was a pioneering and brilliant strategist, changing the way defense is played in the NFL. For me, he was a father-type mentor, and above all, a cherished friend. He belongs in the Hall of Fame. I will miss him so much.”

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