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Caps Game 7 History is Not Good. Will tonight be different?

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Ed Frankovic

As this Caps team gets ready to play a game 7 for the second straight season (Note: WNST “Rock the Red” viewing party is at the Silver Spring Mining Company in Perry Hall!)  it should be noted that Washington’s game 7 record is not good at all, at 1-5. I’ve been at every game 7 this team has played in franchise history and seemingly have seen it all from hot goalies (remember Ken Wregget and Kelly Hrudey?) to missed offside calls to horrible officiating.

Here is a quick look back at those Game 7′s, in order:

1987: The Caps race out to a 3-1 series lead on a banged up New York Islanders team. Washington’s goaltending struggles through the series and Bryan Murray eventually pulls Pete Peeters for Bob Mason in Game 6, which New York wins 5-4. Game 7 is the legendary four overtime special that is ended by Pat Lafontaine at 1:55am on Easter Sunday. My most vivid memory of that game is defenseman Greg Smith hitting the cross bar in the first overtime and then suffering a broken knee cap in the second overtime. I was a young 22 year old doing statistics for the team that night. I had the duty of keeping track of Islanders time on ice – before we had computer software to track the visiting team. After the second overtime Murray told us to stop logging the ice time because everyone was tired and it didn’t matter anymore.

1988, Round 1- Still my all time favorite Caps memory.Washington trailed Philadelphia in this series three games to one after Clint Malarchuk and the team blew a 4-1 lead at the Spectrum with just under 10 minutes left to lose to a Murray Craven goal in overtime in game four. The Caps, however, dominated games 5 and 6 and then rallied from 3-0 down in regulation to win 5-4 in overtime on Dale Hunter’s goal through the legs of Ron Hextall. Bob Gould was a big hero in that series for drawing Flyers enforcer Dave Brown into a five minute major in Game 6 in Philadelphia.

1988, Round 2- The Caps went into round two against the Devils as the favorites but when Pat Verbeek cut Rod Langway’s calf with his skate late in a 3-1 Caps victory in game one this then became an even playing field. Jim Schoenfeld was the coach of the Devils and New Jersey got physical and this series turned ugly at times. Patrick Sundstrom had a great game three in a 10-4 Devils rout but then the Caps struck back for a 4-1 win in game four (do you remember Pete Peeters getting hit in the head with the puck and Malarchuk getting injured forcing rookie Shawn Simpson to have to rush down and get dressed and sit on the bench?). Game five was a turning point as Schoenfeld put Bob Sauve in net and he stoned the Caps. A Washington rout ensued in game 6 (7-2) and Schoney turned back to Sean Burke who played great in game seven. The winning goal, by John Maclean with under 10 minutes remaining, came on an offsides play that linesman Kevin Collins missed.

1992- The Caps pretty much bury the defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins in the first four games of this series as they take a three games to one lead. Washington likely would have swept if not for some awful officiating by Don Koharski in game three in Pittsburgh. Dino Ciccarelli has a hat trick in a Caps 7-2 rout in game four but then the great Scotty Bowman changes his team’s defensive strategy and the Penguins go on to win the next three games in relatively easy fashion. The only chance the Caps had was in game six when they were up 4-2 midway through the second period but Mike Ridley’s bad cross ice pass in the neutral zone was intercepted by Joey Mullen, who went in alone on goalie Don Beaupre to cut the lead to one and give the Penguins the momentum. Game seven was uneventful as Pittsburgh dominated.

1995- The Caps take a 3-1 series lead again on Pittsburgh thanks to two 6-2 blowouts of the Penguins at the Capital Centre in games three and four. Jim “Ace” Carey, who a couple of years later would tell Schoenfeld and assistant coaches Keith Allain and Tod Button that he didn’t really want to play hockey, appears poised to win his first ever playoff series in his rookie season (this was the lockout shortened season). However, Washington gives away game five in Pittsburgh after leading, 4-3, past the halfway point of the third period. Luc Robitaille wins game five in overtime for Pittsburgh (who can forget Francois Leroux going around Ken Klee to set up a Pens goal?). Game six is a 7-1 Pens rout at the Capital Centre as Wregget gets red hot and he carries that into game seven as Pittsburgh shuts out Washington, 3-0, at the Igloo.

2008- The Caps win game one on Alexander Ovechkin’s highlight real goal, 5-4, but then drop the next three contests to Philadelphia (game four was in overtime). A 2-0 score wins for Washington in game five and then the Great #8 takes over the third period of game six to force game seven. Referee Paul Devorksi then allows the Flyers first goal in game seven to count despite clear goaltender interference on Cristobal Huet and then Don Koharski calls Tom Poti for tripping in overtime and Joffrey Lupul wins it for the Flyers on the power play. The Caps expended a lot of energy just making the playoffs and then even more trying to come back in the series.

So will 2009 be different? This team now has playoff experience and should have much more in the tank than they had for game seven last year. They are a superior team to the Rangers, when they play their game and not get too cute with overpassing and cross ice passes, but New York has potentially the great equalizer, Henrik Lundqvist, in goal. If the Caps play well they won’t need to worry about the officiating (btw, Koharski will not be refereeing tonight, he is now retired). Will Ted Leonsis get his first ever playoff series win as owner and Bruce Boudreau get his first NHL playoff series win as head coach? Tune in tonight to find out as game seven’s are the best the NHL has to offer, but they have historically not been good to the Capitals.

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Monday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 27 April 2009 by Glenn Clark

I gave the Ravens a C+. Please check out my blog below to find out why.gives Ravens ‘C+’ for Draft

Let’s see what everyone else has to say….

Best of Sunday’s WNST Blogs:

Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark says Ravens add Buffalo QB Willy, Florida State K Gano after Draft

Drew Forrester now thinks Birds will win something like 66 games

Drew Forrester says Ravens found ‘best men’ over weekend

Cliff Saunders thinks Ravens won’t have to worry about Oher for ‘next ten years’

Ed Frankovic says Caps solve Lundqvist, force Game 7 with Rangers

RAVENS:says Ravens select Nicholls State CB Lardarius Webb in 3rd round

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Ravens select TCU LB Jason Phillips in 5th round

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says East Carolina TE Davon Drew selected with second 5th round pick

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Ravens pick Virginia RB Peerman in 6th round

The Official Site’s Kevin Byrne says Oher passes ‘eyeball test’

The Official Site says Newsome thinks Ravens getting ‘real good player, real good person’ in Oher

The Official Site says Pagano visited Nicholls State to get good look at Webb

The Official Site says Webb big fan of Ed Reed

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Oher believes he can be starter

The Sun’s David Steele says many believe Ravens one ‘big play WR’ away from making Super Bowlsays Ravens hoping Webb doesn’t become next David Pittman

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley

The Sun cleans up after me

The Sun’s Rick Maese says former Ole Miss OL Coach Kehoe thinks Oher ‘miracle’

The Sun’s Mike Preston wasn’t trying to question Oher’s intelligence with column

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Oher took ‘long road’ from homeless in Memphis to Ravens’ 1st round pick

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says DeCosta thought Draft about ‘toughness’ for Ravens

The AP says Oher already knows Steelers new enemy

Washington Post’s Mark Maske gave Ravens B+ for Draft

ESPN.com’s Todd McShay says Kruger Ravens’ ‘best pick’, Drew Ravens’ ‘worst pick’

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Oher ‘gets it’

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Oher not ‘flashy’, but solid selection

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Mel Kiper fan of Lardarius Webb

Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki gives Ravens ‘B-‘ for Draft

SI’s Peter King impressed by Kruger’s ‘motor’

Sporting News’ Clifton Brown gives Ravens ‘C-‘ for Draft

Sporting News’ Albert Breer says WR still Ravens’ area of ‘need’

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco gives Ravens ‘B’ for Draft

Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole says size issue for Ravens’ pick Webb

ORIOLES:says Baez rescued Bergesen as Birds topped Rangers

The Official Site’s Jeff Seidel

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of win

The Official Site’s Jeff Seidel says Trembley ‘expects’ Mora to return Friday

The Official Site’s Jeff Seidel says Bass coming on after very slow start

The Official Site’s Jeff Seidel says Guthrie, Birds try to salvage series split tonight vs. Matt Harrison, Rangers

Rangers Official Site’s T.R. Sullivan says Rangers blew early 5-1 advantage in falling to O’s

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Jones blasts 3 run homer as Birds rally to beat Texas

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Markakis extended hitting streak to 13 games in win

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Reimold off to hot start in Norfolk

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Brandon Snyder ‘maturing’ with Baysox

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Markakis’ 21 runs scored top baseball

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Baez could be ‘tradeable’ at midseason

Examiner Steve DeClue says Roberts also added HR in win

Carroll County Times’ Rich Dubroff says nearly 23,000 saw Birds top Rangers at Camden Yards

Carroll County Times’ Rich Dubroff says Jamie Walker ‘feels fine’

The AP says Chris Davis, Hank Blalock, David Murphy all homered for Rangers in loss

Frederick News-Post’s Adam Pohl says Rowell had 3 hits for Keys in win

Dallas Morning News’ Jeff Wilson says Brandon McCarthy couldn’t hold on to big lead Rangers gave him

NAVY LACROSSE:says Mids upset Bucknell for Patriot League title

The Official Site

Inside Lacrosse’s Christian Swezey says Mids clinch automatic qualifier to NCAA Tournament with win over Bison

Examiner Tom Flynn says Brendan Connors tallied 3 goals for Mids to clinch Patriot League Championship

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Tommy Phelan named MVP of Patriot League Tournament after Mids’ win

NAVY FOOTBALL:says former Mids Kettani, Tyree Barnes sign with Patriots

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner

Go Mids’ Adam Nettina profiles Gateway (PA) RB prospect Brian Williams (must subscribe)says Tigers fall to Penn in Philadelphia

TOWSON LACROSSE:

The Official Site

MT. ST. MARY’S LACROSSE:previews tonight’s showdown with Hopkins

The Official Site

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:says former Terps Barnes, Fokou, Gronkowski, Thomas selected on Day 2 of Draft

The Official Site

The Sun says former Terp Barnes stays nearby with Redskins

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler says Barnes now Redskin after growing up fan of Cowboys

The Diamondback’s Chris Eckard says passing ‘ruled’ day at Spring Game

Washington Post’s Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora say Skins tried trading down before selecting Barnes

Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora says Skins signed Edwin Williams after going undrafted

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps have had players drafted in 15 straight years

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Fokou picked by Eagles

DC Examiner’s John Keim says new Redskin Barnes smart, strong

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says DHB one of 4 ACC players selected in Top 10

SI’s Tony Pauline says Raiders ‘reached’ for DHB at 7

CBS Sports’ Clark Judge says DHB ‘gamble’ for Raiders

Terrapin Times’ Claire Knudsen profiles NFL hopeful Muhtadi (must subscribe)says Adrian Cannon, Torrey Smith, Quinton McCree all options to replace DHB

Turtle Sports Report’s Kenny Gartner

TERRAPINS LACROSSE:says Terps should still be in NCAA Tournament with win over Yale Saturday

The Diamondback’s Michael Katz

The Diamondback’s Adi Joseph says Cottle still ‘optimistic’ about Terps’ season

TERRAPINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:says Toliver, Coleman named team Co-MVP’s at Awards Banquet

The Official Site

SALISBURY LACROSSE:says Coach Jim Berkman knows Gulls will have to win on road during NCAA Tournament

The Sun’s Edward Lee

HORSE RACING:says Quality Road’s status for Kentucky Derby still ‘in question’

Daily Racing Form’s David Grening

Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch says Hold Me Back, Square Eddie, Win Willy, General Quarters all got work in at Churchill Downs Sunday

Thoroughbred Times’ Ed DeRosa says Barbaro statue unveiled in Louisville

Examiner Steve DeClue says alcohol number 1 reason why Preakness ticket sales down

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-Hopkins 13, Mt. St. Mary’s 6. The Mountaineers are playing better, but not THIS much better.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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Caps Chase Lundqvist Again, Force Game 7, 5-3

Posted on 26 April 2009 by Ed Frankovic

Crank up Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”, the Washington Capitals have overcome the odds and forced a game seven on Tuesday night with a 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden this afternoon. Last season the Caps forced a game seven against the Philadelphia Flyers after being down three games to one and lost in overtime. Can the Capitals, who have waited a year to avenge that game seven loss, pull off the feat this year and give Caps owner Ted Leonsis his first ever playoff series win? If they play like they did in the first two periods of today’s game they should be able to do it as they chased Rangers goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, to the bench after 40 minutes for the second straight game. The Rangers added two goals in the last period, including one with five seconds left to make the score look closer but credit New York for not quitting and with some help from the referees they may have grabbed some momentum those last 20 minutes, however, the Caps clearly quit skating for the majority of that stanza.

This contest had a crazy twist coming in to it with Rangers Coach John Tortorella suspended for the game for squirting water at a fan to start an altercation and then he hit a woman on the head when he threw a water bottle into the stands with 6:33 left in game five. Prior to that game Tortorella, ironically, had preached discipline and composure to his team and had scratched pesky forward Sean Avery in game five for taking some bad penalties in the third period of game four. Avery dressed for game six and former Caps Coach Jim Schoenfeld was behind the bench as Rangers interim coach replacing the former Stanley Cup winning coach (Tortorella, who won the Stanley Cup with Tampa in 2004, will be back for game seven).

Washington’s defense was the key today as they produced the first three Caps goals, all in the first period. The first was triggered by game five hero Matt Bradley, who forced an offensive zone turnover with some great forechecking and Brooks Laich and Dave Steckel then set up Milan Jurcina for a blast that beat Lundqvist short side to give the guys in white a 1-0 lead. The Rangers then struck back on a power play goal by Scott Gomez, their first in 19 attempts, to tie it up and for the next couple of minutes the game was looking like it could go either way when Washington received a power play after Paul Mara held Laich.

Washington’s power play had gone ZERO for 13 in games four and five but the Caps finally received a good bounce as Alexander Semin’s shot ricocheted right off of a Rangers skate to Mike Green in the right circle and he roofed it over Lundqvist for his first goal of the playoffs to ignite the Caps. Green apparently has been battling the flu bug and before the game he told NBC’s Pierre McGuire that he was finally getting his energy level back. The Rangers then had another power play chance when Tom Poti put the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty but Washington killed the infraction thanks to some good goaltending from Simeon Varlamov (29 saves). When Poti came out of the box he, Dave Steckel, and Boyd Gordon had a three on one because Mark Staal pinched in the offensive zone and the three Caps passed the puck beautifully around Joe Girardi setting up Poti to stuff the puck over Lundqvist for a 3-1 Caps lead.

In the second period the Caps dominated play by possessing the puck for long stretches of time but with just over nine mintues gone the game’s deciding point came as the Rangers Nikolai Zherdev missed a partially open net that would have made it 3-2 and Washington took the puck down the other way in transition. Viktor Kozlov then abused Staal with a great move and put the puck upstairs past Lundqvist to make it 4-1. Then the Great #8 sealed the deal by deflecting a Poti point pass/shot under Lundqvist with just 3:16 left in the period on the power play. That made it 5-1 and the Caps power play was a perfect 2 for 2 on the afternoon. At that point Washington seemed to not want to take any chances and just get ready for game seven.

Here are some other thoughts on the game:

The Caps power play did get a lucky bounce on the first goal but Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau switched things up a bit putting Poti on the point with Green and moving Ovechkin down low several times and that opened things up for Washington’s defense to shoot and create.

Poti, one goal and three assists, was outstanding today and hopefully his creaky groin is okay for game seven. He may have tweaked it late in the contest.

Washington clearly was trying to beat Lundqvist high glove side and they were successful doing that today. Because of the size of Lundqvist’s pads he is tough to beat on the ice unless you get him moving. The question now is can Washington find a way to force King Henrik into a third straight bad game? Lundqvist has never lost a first round playoff series.

Varlamov was a little shaky in the first period giving up some rebounds but he takes up a lot of net and was very solid when he had to be. He could not be faulted on any of the three New York goals (the Rangers second tally was on a 5 on 3 power play after John Erskine was incorrectly, in my opinion as well as Mike Emrick’s (NBC play by play man), called for a holding penalty on Nik Andropov on a clean check).

Washington took four penalties in the third period and faced two lengthy 5 on 3′s, including one with just over five minutes left and the game still 5-2 but Dave Steckel, Laich, and Poti were outstanding killing it by winning a defensive zone face-off and then ragged alot of time off the clock before firing the puck down the ice.

The Caps did not turn the puck over at the Rangers blue line and did a good job of dumping it deep behind the New York defensemen. If they continue to do this in game seven they will have success. They need to avoid blind passes/careless backpasses that could give the Rangers the ability to get their good transition game going. Today it was Washington’s transition game that was superior.

New York has trouble scoring, they have only 10 goals in this series, so the Caps can’t take penalties, such as Brashear’s late hit on Blair Betts today, that give the Rangers an advantage. Washington is superior at five on five and the only reason this thing is tied up is because of Lundqvist and a bad first game in goal by Washington’s Jose Theodore.

I’m sure the Verizon Center will be raring and ready to go on Tuesday night. The Caps have not come back from 3-1 down to win a series since 1988 against the Philadelphia Flyers. It is time for the guys in red on Tuesday to win one for their owner and for themselves. This will be one tough game and you can bet the Rangers will be ready.

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NHL Suspends Rangers Coach for Game 6

Posted on 25 April 2009 by Ed Frankovic

The National Hockey League announced Saturday that New York Rangers coach John Tortorella has been suspended for one game for squirting a fan with water and throwing a water bottle that struck a fan during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series with the Washington Capitals on April 24 in Washington.

The incident occurred 6:33 into the third period.

Tortorella will miss the Rangers’ game Sunday afternoon against Washington at Madison Square Garden.

“While it is a difficult decision to suspend a coach at this point in a playoff series, it has been made clear to all of our players, coaches and other bench personnel that the National Hockey League cannot — and will not — tolerate any physical contact with fans,” NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. “We do not take this action lightly. It is the result of an entire day of investigation and evaluation that included the retrieval and review of videotape of the incident and discussions with Mr. Tortorella, other Rangers’ bench personnel and a number of other people, including the security personnel at the Verizon Center.

“That investigation revealed that Mr. Tortorella squirted a fan with water before Mr. Tortorella was doused with a beverage.

“While, in these circumstances, it always is easy to allege mitigating circumstances, the fact is we do not tolerate contact with our fans in this manner. That is communicated before each season in a memo that is issued by the League to all of the management, coaches and players of every team.

“The Sept. 8, 2008, memo, entitled ‘Supplementary Discipline Reminders for the 2008-09 Season,’ included the following section regarding Contact With Fans:

Even where a fan is verbally abusive, intoxicated, or profane, club personnel should either ignore the conduct or, where appropriate, seek the assistance of police or security personnel at the arena. This prohibition extends to all forms of physical contact, whether it be direct physical contact, the throwing of objects (including hockey sticks and other equipment) or even the squirting of water. While the latter form of conduct may have, in the past, seemed to be of a minor or harmless character, such conduct may serve only to incite and provoke an unruly fan and may ultimately lead to unforeseen consequences.

Accordingly, please be on notice that all Club personnel (management, coaches, trainers, and/or players) who engage in any form of physical contact with fans, including the squirting of water, will, on a going forward basis, be subject to discipline in the form of a suspension. The Club involved will also be subject to a fine.

The suspension was issued pursuant to the Commissioner’s authority under Section 6.3(j)(1)(a) of the NHL Constitution.

Comment: Former Caps Coach Jim Schonfeld will take over behind the New York bench and this should be a rallying point for the Rangers. Since Henrik Lundqvist is playing tomorrow it really doesn’t matter who is coaching New York. The Caps have their work cut out for them against a goalie who typically bounces back strong after a bad outing. Washington will likely need a near perfect performance on Sunday to even up the series and send it back to the Verizon Center for a game 7 (that would be on Tuesday, if necessary). Caps fans will need to break out their Journey records and crank up “Don’t Stop Believin’”

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Caps Blast Rangers, 4-0, to Force Game Six

Posted on 25 April 2009 by Ed Frankovic

If the Washington Capitals somehow find a way to pull out this best of seven series after trailing three games to one against the New York Rangers then Matt Bradley’s shorthanded goal to put the Caps up 1-0 tonight will be forever remembered as the turning point in this series. Bradley then scored another goal just over seven minutes later from a bad angle on the seemingly invincible Henrik Lundqvist to give the Caps a 2-0 lead and they never looked back in a 4-0 dominating win at the sold out Verizon Center in game five. Game six is Sunday afternoon in Madison Square Garden at 2pm on NBC and once again a Rangers win eliminates the Caps. Friday night though, was about Bradley and his two goals.

“It’s not every game Brad[ley] scores. I was real happy for him. He works so hard…He’s an unsung hero. Whether he plays four minutes or seven, he’s a still a component in the room and when he can get rewarded like that that’s great,” said Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau.

Bradley’s second goal stunned not only him but Lundqvist.

“Brooks [Laich] made a great play… I’m not going to lie. I was just throwing it at the net and luckily it went in. You don’t get many of those against a great goalie like that,” said Bradley.

“I made a bad decision and tried to stand up and cover the five-hole but my pads are not built like that to cover that well so I have to go down on one knee, but I didn’t.  I thought it would be good enough to stand up like that but it went through…it was a bad decision.  That’s on me, that goal.  No question…I don’t know if we can learn so much from this game, we just have to move on and get ready for next time,” said Lundqvist, who had held the Caps to just eight goals on 149 shots in the first four games of this series. On Friday he gave up four goals on 14 shots and he would sit out the third period (replaced by backup goalie Steve Valiquette) to rest for game six and the Caps expect King Henrik to be back on Sunday.

“Every great goalie every now and then makes a mistake. The thing that worried me about that was when I saw it go in, I said ‘ Oh, he’s going to be great the next game.’ Usually they bounce right back so I anticipate him being great on Sunday,” said Boudreau on Lundqvist.

“I’m sure he’ll [Henrik Lundqvist] will bounce back and have a great game on Sunday,” added Bradley on Lundqvist.

Alexander Semin scored the Caps third goal off of a Nicklas Backstrom face-off win and then Alexander Ovechkin had a highlight reel goal to make it 4-0 with 29 seconds left in the second period. Ovechkin went through two Rangers (Chris Drury and Derrick Morris) and while falling to the ice slid the puck under Lundqvist’s pads on the backhand for his second goal of the series. Ovechkin downplayed the goal calling it “a lucky shot” and mentioned that he is “terrible on his backhand.” Lucky or not, the goal was incredible and if Ovechkin can work on his backhand shot in the off-season and have the ability to go around defenseman either on the forehand or backhand there is no limit to the number of goals he could score in a season. But to improve his backhand the Great #8 would likely have to decrease the amount of curve he puts on his stick. Alexander the Great now has six points (2g-4a) in five games in these playoffs.

Back to game five, the Caps got some very good goaltending from rookie Simeon Varlamov who made 20 saves, including a great one on Brandon Dubinsky with 3:10 left in the first period when the game was still in doubt. Boudreau was asked about Varlamov and if he is giving him any advice.

“I’m just going to keep letting him go. I don’t want to get into his head. I don’t want to talk to him,” said Boudreau. Varlamov recorded his second career playoff shutout,and he has now stopped 95 of 98 shots for a 0.76 GAA and .969 save percentage. He is the third Capitals goalie to record multiple shutouts in their playoff career (Olie Kolzig and Don Beaupre) and the second goalie to record multiple shutouts in the same playoff season (Olie Kolzig, 1998, four shutouts).

For Washington, one of the problem areas going forward is still the power play, which was better as the game went on with Laich being put in front of the net on the first unit, but it still did not convert going 0 for 7 and is now 0 for 13 in the last two games. Granted Boudreau did not use Ovechkin, Semin, and some of the other top players on the late man advantages (Ovie did not play the last 8 plus minutes at all) but the Caps will need to start making the Rangers pay for some of the silly penalties they are taking if they want to win this series. Rangers Coach John Tortorella certainly recognized that his team’s play in that area was a key for his team.

“We got enough practice tonight with it, didn’t we?  And that is what is keeping us above water right now.” said Tortorella on his penalty killing unit.

Having watched all five games in this series it is pretty clear that the Rangers strategy is to force the Caps into turnovers in the neutral zone or at the Rangers blue line. With Washington being a highly skilled team they have a tendency to always want to carry the puck into the Rangers zone and New York has used that to their advantage in their wins by intercepting errant cross ice passes and going the other way in transition. The Caps need to do what they did best in games three and five, and that was to get the puck in deep in the Rangers zone and outwork the New York defense. Mike Green (1 assist in 25:09 of ice time) talked about getting the puck in behind the Rangers defense on NHL Live on Thursday and when the Caps have done that in this series they have had success.

“That’s what all teams try to do because once you take the puck in you can make some plays and do some damage. So we’ve just been trying to get it deep and outwork them. It’s the same philosophy every team has, try and get it deep and wear down the D,” said Caps defenseman Tom Poti on the Rangers stacking the blueline against them and Washington’s approach to the game.

In game three many of Washington’s goals came when they worked the puck from behind the net out and that made it tough for Lundqvist to know where the shots were coming from. So I asked Poti if the secret in game six will be for the Caps to simplify their game and dump the puck behind the Rangers goal line and pound New York’s defense.

“I think so, we are going to try and come out and have the same effort we had tonight and if we do so we’ll be okay,” finished Poti.

The Caps also have to be careful not to blindly throw the puck out into the slot with two Caps behind the net as the Rangers are collapsing their players into that area and are waiting to go in transition. On Washington’s breakout from their zone New York is jamming the boards so the Caps did a good job of chipping it up the center of the ice to a forward or hard off the boards around the Rangers defense. Minimizing mistakes and winning the little battles will be the key to a  Caps victory on Sunday and would prevent Lundqvist from single handily deciding the series.

“After you play a team for five games, you know what to expect out of them. It’s just a matter of winning the one-on-one battles and competing. That’s the only way to win games,” finished Caps defenseman Brian Pothier.

Notes: The final shots on goal were 21-20 for Washington, the lowest combined total in the series. The Caps won the face-off battle 28-21. John Erskine had another strong game on defense and was +3 in 17:07 of ice time. Sean Avery, who has taken several bad penalties in this series, was scratched but with New York losing you can expect him back for game six. Chris Drury was -3 in 7:21 of ice time for the Rangers. The game got chippy at times tonight and the Rangers were taking some runs at Washington in the third period. I asked Ovechkin if he thought this game was more physical than the others and he said “every game has been just as physical.”

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Caps on Brink of Elimination, Losing Game 4, 2-1

Posted on 22 April 2009 by Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals are on the brink of elimination trailing by the same 3-1 deficit they faced last year against the Flyers before losing in overtime to Philly and the referees in game seven.  This time, however, they will have to try to come back on a much better goalie. Henrik Lundqvist was very good in net again tonight (38 saves) and he got help from the crossbar and post when he needed it in a Rangers 2-1 victory in game four of this best of seven playoff series.

Alexander Ovechkin scored his first goal of the playoffs in the third period to cut the lead to 2-1 and he was all over the ice with a goal, 11 shots on net, and four hits. The Great #8 also hit the post on the power play late in the third period that would have tied the game. Ovechkin, however, needs some help from some of the other players on his team.

Despite rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov giving up a terrible goal early in the second period to Chris Drury, the reason for the loss was Washington’s power play. First, I take issue with the coaches for keeping Tomas Fleischmann on the first unit when Brooks Laich is a much better fit against a goalie who is stopping nearly everything he sees. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau plus assistants Dean Evason and Jay Leach did take Fleischmann off of the top unit after several unsuccessful early power plays but instead of Laich they inserted Sergei Fedorov. As a result the Caps mainly had the puck on the perimeter trying to set up one timers instead of firing the puck and crashing the net for rebounds. 0 for 6 was the final tally on a pitiful power play and I can’t even remember many rebound chances.

Second, defenseman Mike Green was hardly noticeable tonight and prior to the game Caps GM George McPhee said #52 was under the weather for the first three games but he was healthy for Wednesday’s contest. He didn’t look it and seemed to lack energy, at times. The Caps need Green’s booming shot and they need to put a Laich, Eric Fehr, or Viktor Kozlov right in front of Lundqvist. Playoff hockey is about crashing the crease and going for rebounds. The Caps did not commit to that tonight (other than Ovechkin who tried like crazy to will his team to a win).

Alexander Semin, who had a great game three, had some good chances but he did not have that same drive in the offensive zone that he had on Monday. There were several times where he went softly in the corner and didn’t come out with the puck, unlike he did in game three when he was the show. #28 needs to learn that in the playoffs you have to pay the price night in and night out if you want to win (had he come out strong from behind the goal on his wrap around try in the second period he might have scored). The Caps also got too fancy early in the game at the Rangers blue line trying to make some cross ice passes.

The thing that makes the lack of power play success even more stinging in this loss is that the NHL Idiot of the Year, Sean Avery, took two bad penalties in the third period and Washington did not make the Rangers pay for it. Had the Caps tied the game on the power play I would imagine that Rangers Coach John Tortorella or assistant coach Jim Schoenfeld would have gone ballistic on #16, who is doing all he can to help the Caps win with his reckless play.

But Avery, Tortorella, and Schoenfeld can thank Lundqvist, the Rangers penalty killers, and a misconfigured Caps power play for bailing him out.

Game 5 is Friday night at the Verizon Center at 7pm and it is win or head home for the Caps.

Notes: Washington outshot the Rangers 39-21. The first Rangers goal came off of a clean Dave Steckel face off loss to Brandon Dubinsky and defenseman Paul Mara’s shot, that was heading well wide, hit John Erskine’s stick and went right into the net. The second Rangers goal came when Varlamov didn’t handle a weak Rangers shot with his glove and it bounced to the side of the net where Chris Drury buried it to make it 2-0. Varly did make some good saves but giving up that goal really hurt. I expect Boudreau to come back with Varlamov in game five on Friday, though. The Caps didn’t get the breaks tonight but you earn your breaks and had they played playoff hockey and gone to the net this series could have been tied.

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Caps get back in series, shut down Rangers 4-0

Posted on 20 April 2009 by Ed Frankovic

A very determined Washington Capitals team came out and put “a good ole fashioned spanking,” as Rangers Coach John Tortorella called it afterwards, on New York on Monday night in a 4-0 victory that cut the Blueshirts playoff series lead to two games to one. Game 4 is Wednesday night at 7pm at Madison Square Garden (Note: Please come out to the Silver Spring Mining Company in Hunt Valley for another WNST Rock the Red party on Wednesday.)

Rookie Simeon Varlamov was great in goal for the Caps stopping 33 shots and getting help from the post on the one occasion when he really needed it en route to his first career shutout and playoff victory. Varlamov was exceptional and the Caps defense was outstanding as well as Washington blocked 13 shots (the same number as the Rangers on this night) and did not allow the Rangers room in front of the net. Defensemen John Erskine and Brian Pothier had arguably the best games they have played all season.

On the offensive side of the ice, Washington went to the front of the goal with much more vigor and it resulted in four tallies on 40 shots on Henrik Lundqvist. Alexander Semin, who struggled in game two, was my number one star of the night (with Varly a close second) as he scored the first two goals and set up the third one by Brooks Laich. #28 was superb all evening and he had eight shots on goal, two takeaways, no giveaways, no penalties, and was a +2.

The Great #8 had another very good game, despite not scoring a goal with five shots and five others that also missed the net, but he had two assists and made a couple of great defensive plays, including incredible hustle and a great poke check on what looked to be a shorthanded breakaway by Lauri Korpikoski. Ovechkin still could not get the puck by Lundqvist but you have to think that with all of the chances he is generating it is just a matter of time before he breaks through.

Lots of guys were very good for Washington tonight including Nicklas Backstrom (three assists), who made a great play on the boards to get the puck to Ovechkin, who then fed Semin for the Caps second goal. That tally came right after the Rangers thought they had tied the contest up at one but Ryan Callahan hit the post with a wide open net allowing the Caps to go the other way and get the 2-0 lead. Backstrom’s pass at the end of the game to set up Tom Poti’s fourth goal was one of the best I’ve ever seen and the young Swede also went 8-6 on face-offs.

Here are some other thoughts on the game:

The NHL is supposedly cracking down on so-called “message” shots late in playoff games when the contests are decided. If that is the case, then the Sean Avery punch to Simeon Varlamov’s head with 2:48 left certainly warrants a one game suspension. Avery, who played well in games one and two, was a head case tonight taking four penalties, two of which were boneheaded plays (the punch on Erskine and then the one on Varly), and Tortorella can’t be happy with that. Personally, I think Avery is a detriment to the league and when he does some of the dumb stuff he did tonight he not only hurts his hockey team but he hurts the NHL. I fully expect Colin Campbell to suspend Avery for Game 4, the league can’t have mental cases punching rookie goalies when the outcome of the contest is decided. Boudreau commented on Avery and his punch on Varlamov, who doesn’t speak english. “He is trying to stir it up but he is trying to do that with a guy who doesn’t understand what he is saying,” said Boudreau. Erskine also did a good job of not retaliating on Avery and Boudreau added, “The bench jumped up and patted John on the back.”

Tortorella was clearly upset after the contest and he summed this one up pretty simply. “I thought they played very well defensively and I thought we stunk defensively,” said the 2004 Stanley Cup winning coach. When asked about all of the penalties the Rangers were called for the savvy coach took a backhanded swipe at officials Dave Jackson and Kelly Sutherland. “Penalties were called, I’m not sure what they were, that really wasn’t an indicator of how we played, we simply stunk, period,” finished Tortorella, who then left the interview room.

Special Teams totals for Game 3: Caps 2 for 6 on the power play; Rangers 0 for 6. The Caps did a better job on the power play although it still did not look fluid at times but the ice at Madison Square Garden looked bad, just like it was at the Verizon Center on Saturday. Washington went to the net much more often and it paid off with Laich’s tally (#21 is the one Caps constant in front of the opposing goalie).

Tomas Fleischmann had a few quality scoring chances tonight and he was robbed by Lundqvist in the second period with the game 2-0, and then later in the period he had a golden opportunity in front on the power play and missed the net. #14 has got to start burying some of these chances.

In summary, this was an effort that Washington needed big time and they are now back in this best of seven game series. But if they don’t play with the same energy, grit, and passion in game four they will be right back in trouble. The Rangers will likely play much better on Wednesday than they did tonight so we’ll see how committed this Caps team is to playing playoff hockey on a consistent basis. Tonight was a good start with the season on the brink.

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Monday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 20 April 2009 by Glenn Clark

While I normally work with the rule of thumb that most proposed NFL trades will never actually come to fruition, something tells me that there’s really something brewing with this Anquan Boldin thing. I think Rick Maese touched on this a bit over the weekend too.

I think the Cardinals REALLY want to trade Boldin, as they know they won’t be able to re-sign him. They also have depth at WR with Steve Breaston, Early Doucet, and Jerheme Urban. They could use some depth at Running Back, and could always use another defensive playmaker.

I don’t think the Cardinals want to deal Boldin to a team in the NFC. The Eagles appeared to be a possible destination, but they just dealt a 1st round pick for Jason Peters. Rumor has it the Vikings aren’t interested either.

I think the Jaguars might take themselves out of the conversation by acquiring Torry Holt.

I think the Titans have shown little interest in other receivers, and I would be surprised if they suddenly showed interest in Boldin.

I think the Raiders love players like Anquan Boldin, but aren’t in the position to make a move on him.

The Chiefs could be an intriguing choice, but their 1st round pick is probably too high, as the Cardinals are likely uninterested in paying a Top 10 pick.

That leaves the Ravens…..unless I’m wrong.

That being said, the Cardinals won’t just give Anquan Boldin up. But the price might not be as much as some people are making it out to be. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports and Peter King of SI have both speculated something similar recently.

It’s not definitely going to happen. But it certainly makes a lot of sense.

Best of Sunday’s WNST Blogs:

Chris Bonetti
says Birds have lost 8 straight at Fenway Park

Glenn Clark says Orioles, Baysox, Keys combined to win zero games this weekend

Nestor Aparicio says Markakis, Huff each struck out twice in yesterday’s loss

Bryan Powell says Kylor Berkman tallied 3 assists for Salisbury in CAC Championship win

Keith Melchior says ‘boo birds’ surfacing amongst Orioles, Capitals fans

Ed Frankovic says Caps need to get more ‘traffic’ around Lundqvist, Rangers

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Lester ‘outduels’ Uehara to lift Red Sox over O’s

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of loss

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Hendrickson, Birds try to avoid sweep against Masterson, BoSox this morning in Patriots Day finale

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Birds didn’t have batting practice before Sunday’s game (maybe they should have)

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Jones had to leave Red Sox game with ‘hamstring soreness’

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Trembley frustrated with Eaton’s performance (what did he expect?)

Red Sox Official Site’s Ian Browne says Lester ‘dominant’ for Sox in win

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Lester improves to 7-0 career vs. Orioles with win

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Jones left game due to “discomfort”

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Sherrill put in solid non-save situation inning in loss

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Birds still want to give Patton ‘time to recover’ in Bowie

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Matusz ‘shaky’ in Keys’ loss to Salem

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Lowell picked up RBI ‘bloop’ single for Sox in win over Birds

Examiner Steve DeClue says Wieters’ injury apparently ‘not serious’

The AP says Zaun struck out to end game with Huff on 2nd

Boston Globe’s Adam Kilgore says Saito finished off Birds with shaky 9th for first save

Boston Herald’s John Tomase says Sox, O’s both back to .500 after Sunday’s game

Providence Journal’s Joe McDonald says Lester put on ‘vintage’ performance in win

Yahoo! Sports’ Gordon Edes says Zaun doesn’t think morning game ‘big deal’

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says undrafted LB J. McClain ‘overcoming odds’ by sticking with Ravens

The Sun’s Ken Murray says Mrs. DeCosta would draft DHB if she had Eric’s job

The Sun’s Ken Murray mocks Maualuga to Ravens

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley gives Ravens ‘A’ for 2008 Draft

The Sun’s Ken Murray says NFL Network’s Mayock thinks Ravens have to determine if DHB ‘natural catcher’ of football before taking him

The Sun’s David Steele says Suggs ‘deserves big deal’ from Ravens

Examiner Tony Wisniewski thinks Ravens will select Britt

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Brown, Ayers, English, Matthews could be Drafted by Ravens, moved to OLB

Scout.com’s Ed Thompson says Ravens interested in Cal Poly WR Ramses Barden

NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan mocks DHB to Ravens

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

The Sun’s Ken Murray says DHB 3rd best WR prospect in Draft

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Robinson ‘made case’ for backup QB job in 2nd scrimmage

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Scott ‘likely’ to miss rest of Spring with strained ACL

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem says prospect Troy Gloster visited campus (must subscribe)

Terp Center’s Seth Hoffman says Torrey Smith put up big numbers in 2nd scrimmage of Spring

SALISBURY LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Gulls beat Stevenson for 15th straight CAC Championship

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Sea Gulls clinch NCAA Tournament berth with win over Stangs

STEVENSON LACROSSE:

The Official Site says DeLillo scored 4 goals as Salisbury topped Mustangs for CAC title

HOPKINS LACROSSE:

Inside Lacrosse’s Christian Swezey says Jays beat Mids by controlling rebounds off Phelan’s saves

LOYOLA LACROSSE:

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Hounds must now root for Fairfield to top UMass

NAVY FOOTBALL:

Go Mids’ Adam Nettina breaks down Spring Game (must subscribe)

NAVY LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Mids will open Patriot League Tournament against Colgate at Bucknell

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-The Orioles aren’t winning today. The Red Sox don’t lose on Patriots Day.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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15-7-0

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15-7-0

Posted on 20 April 2009 by Glenn Clark

If you don’t know how this works, you don’t know how this works.

Did anyone notice that Exxon is the new #1 Company in the Fortune 500? And why not? I mean, the big oil companies have been nothing but helpful over the years. Good for them. Good guys the all of them.

And while I’m at it, can we make a rule that Family Guy do a musical number in every episode? And do you think the free grilled chicken KFC is giving away will be any good?

You deserve props….

1-Nolan Reimold

Nick Markakis hit a grand slam on Friday, and the Orioles managed to go on and lose 3 games to the Red Sox. Nolan Reimold hit a grand slam on Friday, then went to finish the weekend with 7 RBI’s and 3 wins for the Norfolk Tides. The Tides won 3 more games this weekend than the Orioles, AA Baysox, and A Keys combined. But on the same night that Reimold hit his slam, Matt Wieters came up injured. Although it turns out Wieters isn’t too particularly hurt, I actually have exclusive photos of Andy MacPhail’s face upon seeing Wieters come up limping…..

pic

2-Torrey Smith

The Terps played their 2nd scrimmage of the Spring Saturday, and while the first scrimmage was all about the defense, the offense apparently decided to show up this time around. Wide Receiver Torrey Smith snagged 3 TD receptions, and returned a kick 96 yards for another touchdown. Then he saved a small child from a burning building, discovered an additional 10 decimal places in pi, convinced Bill O’Reilly and Barack Obama to do karaoke together, and roundhouse kicked Chuck Norris in the face. After all that, he swapped his Maryland jersey for an Arizona State jersey and did this…..

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlL1yYg9SWY[/youtube]

3-Rafael Nadal

Rafa won his 5th straight Monte Carlo title Sunday, and proceded to celebrate by attempting to eat his trophy and rolling around in clay. Which is funny, because that’s what my cousin’s son Nolan did the other day after we named him “Cutest Kid on Easter Sunday.” Of course, that competition wasn’t really fair seeing as how his only competition was this….

baby

4-Randy Johnson & Jon Lester

Ahh, to have pitching. And thanks to the Orioles for looking like ass against the Red Sox this weekend, because it’s not like I hate the Red Sox or anything. (Editor’s note: I ABSOLUTELY hate the Red Sox. If I was forced to pick a team to root for in a company softball game between The Sox and Big Oil Companies, I’d have a new Exxon T-shirt lined up.) Anyhoo, the Giants and Red Sox have players on their teams who can pitch, and the Orioles don’t. But do they have Robert Andino???

5-Brian Gay

Brian Gay won the PGA Tour’s “White Guys Play Golf While Tiger Woods Enjoys His Much Better Life Than Ours” Invitational Sunday, and his family couldn’t have been more proud. Of course, if his family was REALLY proud of him, they might have considered giving him a different name. And while we’re here, thanks to FunnyHub.com for this list of the 10 most Unfortunate Names in Sports History….

10. Toby Oshitola: Soccer player (striker) for Barnet (UK).

9. Jack Glasscock: Shortstop and second baseman for Cleveland, 1879-95.

8. Harry Colon: Former defensive back for the Detroit Lions.

7. Rusty Kuntz: Former outfielder for the Detriot Tigers.

6. Dean Windass: Soccer player (forward) for Middlesbrough in the UK.

5. Ron Tugnutt: NHL goalie (Dallas Stars).

4. Misty Hyman: US Olympic swimmer.

3. Dick Trickle: NASCAR driver.

2. Gregor Fucka: Slovenian basketball player who now plays for Barcelona.

1. Pull Dickoff: Soccer player for West Ham United in the UK.

6-Henrik Lundqvist

Don’t really ask me how to explain what happened here, but I ended up at the Capitals game on Saturday. I want to share a few thoughts……

1-Why in the hell does it cost $2.70 to ride the Metro to and from the Arena on Saturday morning, but $4.80 on Friday afternoon?
2-Why is it that when I go to the press dining area before a hockey game, there are always like 100 dudes wearing black suits in there? Are they NHL officials? When I get upstairs, it’s back to the guys who look borderline homeless (like myself); but the area downstairs looks like a funeral procession.
3-Kudos to Bruce Boudreau for having the guts to start Simeon Varlamov, but was it necessary to tell his team that starting a new goalie meant they didn’t have to bother to put together any offense?
4-I’m not a fan of the Capitals. They play in Washington. I’m from Baltimore. If they were the Baltimore Capitals, I’d probably root for them. Of course, they’d have to play at Rash Field because Baltimore has no Arena….
5-That being said, I’m surrounded by Capitals apologists here in Baltimore. And I can understand…..if the Capitals lose, you have to start following the Orioles closely. I’m all for a distraction to THAT particular reality.
6-I was a bit bummed for my Capital apologist friends after the Caps lost, but then I noticed a guy wearing a Capitals jersey and a Redskins hat. I’ve never had a bigger smile on my face. If Redskins fans are miserable, I’m all for it.
7-My emotions became particularly conflicted when I saw someone else celebrating wearing a Rangers jersey and a Yankees hat at the same time. Is there any way both teams can lose this series???
8-Shouldn’t the Capitals offer some sort of refund if you go to a game and Alexander Ovechkin doesn’t do something where you say “WHAAAAAAAAA???????” afterwards?

7-Mark Martin & Dario Franchitti

Just a week after non-athletes Kenny Perry and and Angel Cabrera proved that golf isn’t really a sport; Mark Martin did the same for NASCAR Saturday night by winning the Insert Your Own Redneck Joke Here 500 in Phoenix at the ripe old age of 176. In Long Beach Sunday, Franchitti claimed the other racing series race. You know, the series where the cars look different, and the series is called Champ/Cart/Speed/Indy/Euro/Racing Commission or whatever. Long Beach, huh? Nothing you could think of to do in Long Beach that’s better than sitting in a car for 3 hours????

8-Eric Young

I didn’t go on the TNA Philadelphia bus, and I have NO IDEA who Eric Young is. But I do know this……if Danny Bonaduce shows up anywhere else, I might punch him in the jaw myself. Apparently Bonaduce was involved with the TNA show the WNST bus went to tonight, and had his ass kicked by some guy named Eric Young, which I’m all for. But since we’re talking about Wrestling Pay-Per-Views, the only thing I can ask myself is……Did Ray Bachman bother to show up????

wwe

9-Dave Pietramala and Jim Berkman

Petro continued his own personal record of having never lost to Navy on Saturday; and in the process claimed his 125th victory since returning to Johns Hopkins. Berkman and Salisbury got revenge on Stevenson in the CAC Championship, extending their streak to 15 straight conference titles. While I don’t always enjoy watching the same team win every year, I do enjoy streaks. Yep, I enjoy streaking in all forms. In fact, I was thinking about an event I covered last year at Arizona State called the “Undie Run”, which they’ll be holding again in 2 weeks……..

undie

Attention Towson University. WHY IN GOD’S NAME DO YOU NOT HAVE AN UNDIE RUN?!?!?!?!

10-Jose Barea

I want to personally thank Jose Barea for coming off the bench and helping the Mavericks beat the Spurs Saturday in Game 1 of their playoff series. I won’t be watching any of these playoffs because I’d literally rather run on a treadmill discuss Baltimore sports with Anita Marks watch videos of that old chick from that British TV show fight that chick Aneesa in a circled circle….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-YCWThSEq4[/youtube]

11-Gary Sheffield

Remember when it used to be cool to hit 500 home runs? Like, “Devote an entire hour of SportsCenter” cool? Why is it that when Sheff did it Friday night, it got about as much coverage as the NHL playoffs? With no offense to Shef, who has put together a nice little career, do you think it was a bit awkward that when he asked the Mets’ clubhouse manager what the Hall of Fame wanted him to donate from the evening, the attendant responded “What makes you think they want something?”

12-Playing “Thunderstruck” while a team is introduced

Can we just make this like a law or something? After seeing it with the Blast last weekend, I saw it with the Capitals Saturday afternoon. Sports introductions are routinely lame; but are freaking AWESOME when Thunderstruck is playing in the background. Frankly, I believe eating pancakes would be more awesome if Thunderstruck was playing in the background. And after watching this video, I think we can all agree that military choppers taking off (which is cool to begin with) are even cooler to watch when Thunderstruck is playing in the background.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXTtpryKbDg[/youtube]

13-New York Tabloids

ny

nyy

There is NOTHING better than seeing the headlines after a bad Yankee loss. The best thing about the New York media is comparing them to the media in Baltimore. For example; had the Orioles lost 22-4 to the Red Sox Saturday, I can imagine that The Sun’s headline might have read….

“Short outing for Eaton as Red Sox blow out Birds”

Makes the point without being dramatic. Decent headline, but not a whole lot of fun like the headlines in New York. I wonder what Orioles Hangout might have as a headline….

“Rough Night for Birds as BoSox Homer Early, Often”

Again, fair headline. Now I wonder what the headline might be on MASNSports.com….

“Wigginton’s Homer Not Enough as Orioles Suffer Tough Loss”

I guess they have to spin it. Now here’s how the loss would have played out in the New York Tabloids…..

“Eaton Up! Go Back to Philly Adam!”

LOVE the brutality. I also love the fact that someone at the new Yankee Stadium decided to step up and give Jeffrey Maier his tickets back…..

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvg_gwRCo7c[/youtube]

Okay, it was a home run. But shouldn’t Major League Baseball do something to make this more difficult?

14-Kristen Dalton

usa

You see, this is how a beauty pageant should be. Why is there any need for a talent competition in a pageant??? Who cares if you’re good at anything at all when you look like THAT. (Editor’s Note: You’d think I’d be concerned about claims of sexism, but you’d be wrong. You see, I know women don’t read this blog. That’s because most kitchens don’t have computers. Thanks everyone, I’ll be here until the first lawsuit. Please tip your waiters.)

15-Bocce & Frisbee Golf

Seeing as how this was CLEARLY the nicest weekend I’ve experienced weather-wise since moving home from Arizona last Summer, I wasn’t going to let something like the NHL playoffs stand in my way of spending time outside. When I got home, I declared to my girlfriend “get a case of Peroni and a hunk of salami, it’s time for some bocce!!!” While our game didn’t look quite as sexy as this….

boccc

…..it was still pretty sexy nonetheless. On Sunday we scrambled over to Goucher to get in 9 holes of Disc Golf; where we put together all too many shots that looked like this….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM8YZc2lRCg&feature=related[/youtube]

You got lucky……

1-Anderson Silva

It was funny, because when my buddy asked me if I wanted to watch the UFC fight Saturday night, I thought that I would be watching a fight; not a new episode of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Silva deserved to win the fight, if only because Thales Leites deserved to win NOTHING. But the main event at UFC 97 looked downright similar to……well, boxing. Did anyone tell Anderson Silva that the way to end a fight normally involves some sort of knockout or submission? I guess he thought that maybe he could win by having everyone in the audience fall asleep. And the more I think about it; I actually think THIS fight was more entertaining….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1eFdUSnaQM[/youtube]

2-Andre Igoudala

The NBA Playoffs: Where “Can’t Make a Free Throw with the Game on the line but can make THIS shot just to show off” happens…..

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwFz0OF9Amk[/youtube]

3-Matt Millen

mill

Okay, let me start with this. Have we reached some sort of parallel universe when The Detroit Free Press-a seemingly legitimate news source-cites DEADSPIN in the reporting of a story? And um, oh yeah, Deadspin’s source in reporting the story was ANONYMOUS! Look, no offense to Deadspin-I check their site DAILY. But this is a bit much.

Moving on, the report says ESPN will have Matt Millen replace Emmitt Smith with their on-site coverage of Monday Night Football. I can’t believe I’m saying this about the man who was the architect of the only team to ever finish a regular season 0-16; but I believe ESPN has actually made an upgrade here. Of course, this was what they had before….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-7GjL2SlUo[/youtube]

4-Derrick Rose

Is it lucky to score 36 points to help your team win your first every playoff game? Maybe not; but Rose came VERY close to doing it in a losing effort. Boston hero Paul Pierce had a miss a free throw with just 3 seconds to play just to get the game into overtime. Pierce was then blocked on a potential game-winning shot at the end of overtime; meaning Chicago had a road playoff win and could forget about that “Michael” fella they insist on talking about……I mean, that guy didn’t even win his first playoff game!

5-Ricky Dobbs

Navy played their Spring football game Friday night, and sophomore QB sensation Ricky Dobbs had to leave early when he heard a “pop” in his ankle. With Navy men and women across the world in an absolute panic, Dobbs thought he had broken it. The good news is that it turned out to just be a sprain. The even better news is that Dobbs and the Mids get to visit the White House Tuesday to celebrate winning another Commander-in-Chief Trophy. And the good news for Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo is that when he visits the White House this time, the President might actually be able to pronounce his name. Unlike some other guy…..

niu

6-Aramis Ramirez and Raul Ibanez

Ramirez hit a walkoff home run Friday for the Cubs to beat the Cards; Ibanez hit a HR Sunday for the Phillies to beat the Padres. And in a tradition unlike any other, here comes some shaving cream in your face……

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm69Ya-g1Nk[/youtube]

I’m not saying that I dislike Philadelphia, but is it wrong that I was KINDA hoping that the headline following today’s game would read “Phillies’ Ibanez to miss remainder of season with eye injury due to shaving cream celebration”???

7-Lisa Rinna

So apparently Lisa Rinna is 45 but yet looks like this…….

rinna

and why not? In the same week as we’ve seen the debut of a TV show called “The Cougar”, we’ve also now seen an actress in her mid-40′s pose for Playboy. The breaking news here is that apparently Lisa Rinna is famous for something other than being hot. I’m just as shocked as you.

You’re a ZERO……

Lakers Fans

Nothing screams class like having your own fans boo you while you have a double digit lead in the final minute of a playoff game. Let’s set the scene. If the Lakers hold their opponent under 100 points, every fan in attendance walks away with a coupon for 2 free Jack in the Box tacos. While I’m not an expert on Jack in the Box, my few trips to the establish don’t exactly make me think their tacos are anything to write home about. But ahead by 15 points in the final minute, Lakers fans wanted the tacos so badly they began chanting “We Want Tacos” at their team. The Jazz got a breakaway layup, and the crowd booed……despite the fact that the Lakers were still going to cruise to a 113-100 win on the same weekend when teams like the Spurs and Magic were losing home games.

Don’t Lakers tickets cost like $1,000 apiece even for crappy tickets? Can’t these people afford their own 99 cent tacos???

And this comes just a few days after LeBron James had to tell Cavaliers fans to stop booing when his team doesn’t reach 100 points and win them free chalupas.

Stay classy, NBA fans.

-G

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How Bad Do the Caps Want it?

Posted on 19 April 2009 by Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals, who trail the New York Rangers two games to none in their best of seven playoff series, will play game three on Monday night at 7pm at a sure to be rocking Madison Square Garden (viewing party at Silver Spring Mining Company in Perry Hall). The Caps have had good efforts in games one and two and it wasn’t enough so now we’ll find out how bad they really want to win in the playoffs. As we’ve seen so far, having more skill than the other team doesn’t necessarily translate into victories in the post-season. Bruce Boudreau’s crew is going to have to become more gritty and determined than ever in game three to find ways to get around or through the Rangers defense to get more traffic and gather rebound shots on Henrik Lundqvist, who has saved 67 of 70 shots in two games.

It has been well documented that most of Washington chances have been on the perimeter and this issue has been one that Boudreau has talked about all season. We’ve seen this hockey club have good nights where they go hard to the net and get rewarded, but lately they have not been doing it. Can anyone remember the last time a Washington player, other than Alexander Ovechkin, drew an interference or roughing penalty from driving hard to the crease?

I keep hearing the Caps defensemen talk about how the rules make it easier for opposing forwards to get to the front of their net. So my question is how come it seems so hard for the Washington players to get there? Are they afraid of getting hit? This isn’t the NHL pre lock-out when a cross check to the back or a slash to the legs was the norm when heading to the spot directly in front of the blue paint. The rules are set up for forwards to have an advantage now so the Caps players need to show some more heart, grit, and toughness and get there. Frankly, Washington needs more guys to be like or even better than Brooks Laich has been most of the season in going to crease and scoring the ugly goal. Chris Clark is a player who can do that but word out of Kettler Ice Plex today is, although he has been cleared to play, that he isn’t ready yet (that is what Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post is reporting).

On the defensive side of the rink, Caps players need to be more physical, be willing to block shots, and do whatever is necessary to prevent the tap in goal like we saw on Saturday (the Caps need to do a better of job defending two on one breaks. I’ve watched the Ryan Callahan goal five times now and can’t believe how poorly Tom Poti played it. Poti had one job, to cut off the pass, and he didn’t get it done. Marcus Naslund was not going to be able score from where he was so #3 had to leave him to goalie Simeon Varlamov).

As for Washington’s goaltending situation, right now it doesn’t matter whether Boudreau plays Jose Theodore or Varlamov in game three because if you don’t score any goals you can’t win. I’ve heard Boudreau and the players mention that Carolina was down two games to none against  Montreal in 2006 and ended up winning the Stanley Cup that year. That is all well and good but I’m willing to bet that a big reason for their turnaround was a dedication to playing playoff hockey, which means paying a PHYSICAL price to get results.

How many of the Caps are feeling banged up or bruised right now? If you aren’t feeling any pain than you aren’t doing what is necessary to win, just ask any player with a Stanley Cup ring. When I hear stories about those great Islanders teams from the early 1980′s, the Oilers teams from the eighties, and the Penguins clubs from the early 1990′s, I always hear those players talk about playing through the injuries and battle scars that they endured during their ride to the Cup. Is anyone on the Caps bruised from fighting through the Ranger defense yet? I doubt it because I haven’t seen a dedication to doing what it takes to win in the playoffs. Going forward the rest of these playoffs Washington’s team motto needs to be: If you aren’t hurting, you aren’t trying hard enough. It is that simple.

At this point, the Caps players shouldn’t need Boudreau or anyone in the media to call them out to play with more heart, grit, toughness, determination, intestinal fortitude, passion, or whatever you want to call it. I see plenty of room for improvement from every player on that roster right now and if anyone wants to whine about playing time, they have no case, because if Boudreau sees production he will reward the player(s) who gets it done. So each player needs to look in the mirror, hold themselves accountable, and find that extra drive and sacrifice himself for the good of the team. And if these players can’t come together and do that in these next several games then they provide an easy answer for the people running this team: these guys can’t collectively get it done and it is time to make some serious changes going forward.

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