Tag Archive | "jones"

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Crosby’s Pens Too Good For Ovechkin’s Caps

Posted on 19 March 2013 by Ed Frankovic

Caps fans may not like hearing this, but Sidney Crosby is one heck of a hockey player.

On the flip side, despite the constant bashing from clowns like Mike Milbury, Alexander Ovechkin is still a heck of a hockey player too.

On Tuesday night in Pittsburgh the two teams met in the Steel City and both players brought it in an exciting game. Ovechkin had a power play goal to give Washington the lead but Crosby answered back by setting up two goals. One of those setups, unfortunately for Washington, came after the Penguins had killed off a critical late four minute power play and they scored on the ensuing rush after a Capitals turnover to prevail, 2-1.

It was a crushing loss for the Caps who got Brooks Laich and Dmitry Orlov back in the lineup for the first time this season. The effort was good, but efforts don’t necessarily translate into points in the hockey world.

So now the Caps head to Winnipeg for a two game set with the Southeast Division leading Jets. Winnipeg has a nine point lead so Washington’s playoff chances continue to dwindle with the trade deadline set for two weeks from Wednesday (April 3).

The Caps will need to play hard like they did on Tuesday, but they also need to be more efficient. Their power play let them down and John Carlson continues to struggle with his passing at the point. A return of Mike Green would certainly be a boost to the man advantage situations. #52 is on the road trip.

At the end of the night, the hard work was there but the loss to the Penguins, who have now won 10 in a row, is a bitter one. Pittsburgh is a very good hockey team, even without Evgeny Malkin and Kris Letang, who are both out injured. Dan Bylsma has his club playing defensively as well as they have since they won the Stanley Cup in 2009. I am not sure how he turned a leaky blue line core around but part of the equation is the strong backchecking of their forwards. Pascal Dupuis’ late stick check on Ovechkin in the slot likely saved the victory. It is one example of how Pittsburgh is doing the little things in their own zone to thwart their opponents. Simply put, if the Pens keep playing like that, even Boston will have a hard time beating them in the Eastern Conference.

As for the Caps, well it was another lost game in a frustrating and disappointing lockout shortened campaign.

In the words of one Reg Dunlop, “We got a lot of losses.”

So Washington’s season is on the brink heading to Manitoba this weekend and if they don’t turn it around, the only way this loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday will be worth it, in my book, is if they end up winning the draft lottery and getting defensemen Seth Jones.

That’s asking a lot, but that’s what it takes to get over a Capitals loss to the Penguins these days.

 

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Caps Holes Evident in Loss to Rangers

Posted on 17 February 2013 by Ed Frankovic

 

Typically in pro sports, wins and losses comes down to talent. On Sunday night in New York at Madison Square Garden talent was the difference as the New York Rangers knocked off the Washington Capitals, 2-1, despite an outstanding goaltending performance from the Caps Braden Holtby (38 saves).

The Caps came into this game already missing Brooks Laich up front and Dmitry Orlov on the back end and when they had to play without their best defensemen, Mike Green (lower body injury), you knew it was going to be tough sledding for Washington. And that is exactly what happened as the Rangers used their talent up front to dominate puck possession and the shot clock for the first 30 minutes of this contest. The only thing that made it a game to that point was Holtby, who somehow managed to keep the scoreboard knotted at one.

Unfortunately for Washington, Holtby couldn’t score goals from the opposing crease and that is what doomed the Capitals in this one. Over the last 30 minutes Coach Adam Oates’ team started to carry more of the play, but when you only have three top six forwards and are relying on guys like Wojtek Wolksi and Jason Chimera to score from the left wing on the top two lines you are in trouble. Don’t get me wrong, I like Chimera. He is a lunch pail, hard working forward, but he is a third line left winger. Wolski, well that’s another story. The former first round pick isn’t on his fifth team for nothing, although that is what the Caps pretty much paid for him. In this case, the old saying, “You get what you paid for” certainly applies. Wolski had several opportunities to score on Sunday night after some sweet set ups from Nicklas Backstrom, yet Wolski couldn’t find the net on many of them.

On the back end with Green out, Oates had two choices in either Tom Poti or Roman Hamrlik. Neither are good ones at this point as both older players have shown that their careers are pretty much finished. Poti got the call on Sunday and played less than 10 minutes. On the Rangers first goal, Poti was downright terrible turning the puck over and then failing to tie up Carl Hagelin by the net as #62 put the biscuit home. Oates barely played #3 after that one.

Still, given the talent imbalance, I have to give the Capitals players credit for battling a team that many have picked to come out of the Eastern Conference to play for the Stanley Cup this spring down to the wire. There was no lack of effort from Washington’s players and Oates has impressed me with what he’s done in many areas with this team. But at the end of the day, they just don’t have enough finishers. The Caps opponents know they just need to key on Alex Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Mike Ribeiro and they are in good shape. Even still, the Capitals almost tied this one up late, so kudos on the effort.

But despite the late surge the effort yielded 0 points and Washington fell to 5-9-1, good for last place in the Eastern Conference.

Two years ago in the post season the Capitals eliminated the Rangers in five games. After that series, Rangers Coach John Tortorella said, “We are not there yet,” describing his lack of talent compared to Washington’s, at the time. Last spring, the Caps and New York played a seven game series that was pretty much a dead heat but the Rangers got the bounces and moved on.

So what transpired last summer from a management perspective for these two clubs? Well the Rangers went out and acquired former #1 draft pick Rick Nash while the Caps acquired Ribeiro to fill their gaping hole at second line center. Unfortunately the Capitals let Alex Semin and Dennis Wideman walk in free agency without replacing them. Sure they were counting on Orlov to fill some of Wideman’s shoes, but Wideman didn’t get upwards of $5M a year for nothing. Semin received $7M from the Hurricanes, who are in first place in the Southeast Division. Based on that, combined with the injuries to Laich and Orlov, it is pretty easy to see why the teams sure seem headed in opposite directions right now.

To get back into the playoff race will be extremely difficult for the Caps, at this point, unless management makes some moves. That doesn’t appear easy, even if they are willing to do so. Sure Washington has some good young talent overseas and at the junior level. But Evgeny Kuznetsov (2010 1st round pick) won’t be in the NHL until 2014, Filip Forsberg (2012 1st round pick) is playing in Sweden this year, and Tom Wilson (2012 1st round pick) needs the proper time to develop. There is no immediate help in the system this season so the answer would have to come from trades, which are difficult to pull off in the salary cap era.

Therefore, it just looks like the Caps will have to gut this out and see where things take them. If they aren’t making up ground by the trade deadline (April 3rd), then a decision will have to be made on Ribeiro, who will be a free agent this summer. Based on the way #9 has played, he will bring value in return. Then again, it may be worth signing him if Washington thinks it is in position to compete with the elite of the East starting in October. It also doesn’t make any sense to rush Laich and Orlov back from their injuries, as well.

In no way am I advocating quitting on the season, you never do that. However, given that there are some prize players at the top of the draft board this year, particularly American defensemen Seth Jones, who just helped Team USA win the Gold Medal in the World Juniors in January, the Caps need to be smart about things because adding a player like Jones given what is in the pipeline the next two years changes the dynamic of your team.

But there are still 33 contests to go and the Eastern Conference is pretty weak after the Rangers, Boston Bruins, and New Jersey Devils. The Penguins and Hurricanes certainly appear to be in the next grouping but after that, there are no really strong teams so anything can happen.

Still, when you see the holes in the Capitals lineup, it is tough to get excited about this short lockout stained season.

Notes: Backstrom was 12-6 on faceoffs and Washington won the battle there overall, 31-27, but on the Rangers game winning PPG, Jay Beagle was beaten cleanly on the draw and the Rags scored in seven seconds for the ball game…the Rangers had 20 shots in the 1st period but Holtby, in amazing fashion, stopped them all…Tomas Kundratek played a career high 23:25 with Green out of the lineup…Washington’s power play missed #52 and went 0 for 4…the Caps have a crucial two game series with the Devils starting on Thursday. If they lose both tilts, then the Jones talk will heat up even more…for more of my take on the team, check out my on-air session with Thyrl Nelson of WNST from Friday’s MobTown Sportsbeat show here

 

 

 

 

 

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Will This Late Rally Be A Turning Point in the Caps Season?

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Ed Frankovic

It was 5-3 Florida with just over five minutes to go and the Washington Capitals were likely staring at a 3-9-1 record in this lockout shortened 48 game season. 

The Seth Jones talk appeared all set to begin.

But somebody forgot to tell Adam Oates’ club that.

In a furious and spirited rally, the Capitals received late goals from Eric Fehr and Alex Ovechkin and then Nicklas Backstrom set up Troy Brouwer on a breakaway in overtime with one of the prettiest passes you’ll ever see. #20 was stopped by Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen initially but the power forward alertly hit the brakes and banged home his own rebound for a wild 6-5 Caps victory in Florida on Tuesday night.

It was the Capitals second straight victory, their first on the road this season, and also the first time they’ve won when having to kill more than three penalties in a game.

They were terribly sloppy in their own end, especially in the second period, but somehow they killed off all five Florida power plays and went 2 for 3 on their own man advantage situations to scrape out a win.

Braden Holtby was the victim of some crazy bounces but he battled hard in the net and made some dandy saves when the Caps needed them most, including a huge stop on a Florida 3 on 0 in the middle frame. Basically, Holtby gave his club a chance and Washington delivered.

So the Caps stay alive and move to 4-8-1. They have a long way to go to climb back into the playoff race and their play is wildly inconsistent on the ice.

But one thing we saw tonight that you can’t question is this club’s heart. They played the last five plus minutes and overtime like they knew they had to find a way to win the game. If you play hard like that and go to the net, good things are bound to happen. That is how Washington came back.

Sure they are still scary in their own end in too many instances. They make too many turnovers, get out of position too easily, and aren’t physical enough in their own crease and slot areas. They must improve on that to salvage a season that has gotten off to a terrible start.

They still don’t have two top lines to consistently throw at the opposition and on defense they are hurting with the loss of Dennis Wideman to offseason free agency and Dmitry Orlov still out injured, so the margin for error is razor thin. They have to stay out of the box, get good goaltending and the effort has to be consistent to beat the better teams. Fortunately Florida is not one of the better clubs so the Caps managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and get a much needed victory on a night when their play was very uneven.

But winning the way they did in the last five minutes could provide a valuable lesson about sticking together, working hard, and not quitting.

The Caps showed resiliency and that has to give some cause for optimism.

So the question is, will this late rally be the turning point in the Caps season?

Stay tuned…

Notes: Washington’s next game is Thursday at 7:30pm in Tampa…The Caps scored two goals directly off of faceoff wins. Karl Alzner and Ovechkin had those tallies…Backstrom (2 assists) was 19-10 on draws and Mike Ribeiro (1 goal, 2 assists) was 8-5…Jason Chimera was -3 in just 5:43 of ice time. #25’s play has really dropped off, which is something the Capitals do not need. Chimmer needs to get back to skating and playing hard…John Erskine had two goals bank in off of him but Washington is now 4-2-1 with #4 in the lineup.

 

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Postcard from Denver: The Greatest Game I’ve Ever Seen

Posted on 12 January 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

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Flacco describes mechanics of Mile High Miracle TD pass to Jacoby Jones

Posted on 12 January 2013 by WNSTV

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Torrey Smith describes his view of Jacoby Jones catch

Posted on 12 January 2013 by WNSTV

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Jacoby Jones’ hilarious shirt says it all in Denver

Posted on 12 January 2013 by WNSTV

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Orioles Magic and 666: The Number of The East

Posted on 27 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been six years and six days since we launched the “Free The Birds” campaign to speak out about the awfulness that the Baltimore Orioles had become under the stewardship of Peter G. Angelos. Coincidentally, today the Orioles “magic number” to clinch a playoff berth in the American League is 6.

It’s absolutely astonishing that we’re going to the Ravens’ fourth game of the season tonight and the Baltimore Orioles are playing meaningful baseball games every night. It’s almost awkward and overwhelming, the energy we’re all feeling for sports in our community.

So as 70,000 gather downtown and bring the purple love for the 2-1 Baltimore Ravens on national television, has all been forgiven and “fixed” according to the customers of the Baltimore Orioles?

If you’re counting the tens of thousands of empty seats this “Orioles Magic” show has played for over the last month you’ll see that the franchise and the 2012 Orioles still have a long way to go to undo the untold damage to the psyche of its own fan base. Even worse, there are many potential baseball fans who are unaware – or uninterested – in coming back to the ballpark and soaking in the love of Birdland, which right now is just about the happiest place on earth.

Fill in any reason you’d like: price, distance, inconvenience, HDTV, love of Jim Hunter, blah, blah, blah.

Bottom line: it ain’t a tough ticket.

I’ve never stopped going to Orioles games. I’ve been to eight games a year every year since 2003 when they proved to be awful business partners and 2006 when they took away my press pass (I’m the only person in history of Baltimore media to be “banned” from Orioles games). People give me free tickets and I use them.

I’ve flown to Sarasota twice to see them play in spring training. I’ve seen the Orioles play in New York three times a year every year for 8 years. I’ve seen them play in Boston, New York, Cleveland, Tampa, Philadelphia.

I’ve been going back to the ballpark this month and I’ve reached into my wallet to do it.

I purchased two tickets for the Cal Ripken Statue Thursday night extravaganza. I bought four tickets for this Monday’s DH for $4 each. I checked the credit card receipts. I spent $18.80. Because of the scarcity of the Ripken tickets, it cost us $47.80 for a pair of standing rooms that we turned into sitting rooms in the back row of Sec. 380.

My total investment in the Orioles so far in 2012? That’s right: $66.60.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter or @WNST on Twitter, you know that I’m at the ballpark because I’m sending up pictures, observations, analysis and some dark humor.

I turned down offers for free tickets the past two nights because I had other obligations for work.

I woke up early on Saturday morning and chased down a pair of tickets to every postseason game the Orioles could play this October. And then I realized that I’ll be in Kansas City for the Ravens’ game next weekend.

And I have to ask myself the same question many Baltimore sports fans are asking themselves – am I a bigger fan of the Orioles or the Ravens? And if I had to pick just one…???? Hmmm…

I’m asking Baltimore sports fans these questions all month here in our GREAT BALTIMORE MEDIA SURVEY. Take it for a chance to win a trip to Cleveland in November!

For me choosing between the Orioles and the Ravens is like picking between whether you love your

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Ravens DL Jones unsure if family rooting for him, brother Chandler Sunday

Posted on 21 September 2012 by WNST Staff

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“Chaos” rules day in Philly with scab officiating, Ravens tightrope loss

Posted on 16 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

Today I did something I’ve never done as a journalist in 28 years of covering sports. Today, I walked into the Baltimore Ravens locker room and the story really wasn’t as much the razor-thin outcome as the ways and means that the purple guys suffered a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

At every end of the Ravens locker room – from veterans who I’ve never heard utter a bad word about the officials to the coaches who will be mortified when they go back and watch this film – the officiating was the central story of the bitter loss.

A late, reversed call on a phantom pass from Michael Vick that was receovered by the Ravens in the red zone?

A “no yellow flag” pass interference call on Jacoby Jones that took six points off the board for the Ravens? Joe Flacco said the official “threw a beanie.”

Multiple instances where the officials didn’t know what down it was or where to spot the ball?

And, most egregiously, the obvious punching match between DeSean Jackson and Cary Williams that any neophyte NFL fan knows calls for an immediate ejection must make anyone in the league office cringe because that’s a no-brainer and set the tone to allow four more melees to break out at different points in the game.

Several veteran Ravens players chatted with me off the record – as you know the NFL fines anyone who states the obvious about this sham going on with the zebras – and said the biggest issues are the calls being made down the field when the ball goes in the air.

No one knows where the line is for a pass interference call. No one can assess what will be called holding and what won’t. Then there’s the inherent chippiness and ability to bully and further confuse and befuddle these already confused men in black and white.

And as Joe Flacco pointed out, “I think you’re not too smart if you’re not trying to get away with that. See if you can get a call?”

Harbaugh and the Ravens have a chance each week to send notes to New York to the league offices to review plays. Clearly, with this sham today in Philadelphia, he might not even bother filing out a report.

“The challenge for us right now is figuring out what constitutes what. What constitutes illegal contact? What constitutes P.I.?” Harbaugh said in the post game.

No one in the purple locker room came out and said: “We lost the game because of the officials.” Let’s make that clear. Many just said, “It’s a shame.” Flacco says the integrity of the game is being compromised. Ray Lewis had to be pulled away by the Ravens’ PR staff before he said something that would get him fined.

But he did have a litany of interesting things to say and didn’t mince words:

Strange days for the league. Strange days for the officials. And “chaotic,” as it was called by John Harbaugh, seems to reign right now not just for the Ravens but for all teams trying to get a grip on the officiating.

Where is Roger Goodell to answer these questions?

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