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Ravens-Eagles: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 22 August 2015 by Luke Jones

PHILADELPHIA — The Ravens enter their second preseason game of the summer against the Philadelphia Eagles with injury concerns along the offensive line.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele (Achilles) and right tackle Rick Wagner (leg) were not suited up to play during pre-game warmups, meaning Ryan Jensen and James Hurst were in line to start at their respective positions. Four reserve linemen were also out with injuries including John Urschel (concussion), Jah Reid (back), Darryl Baldwin, and Blaine Clausell.

Baltimore was also missing two starters on the opposite side of the ball as cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and defensive end Chris Canty were not suited up to play. Webb has been sidelined since before the first preseason game while Canty has been participated in practices, making one speculate that the 32-year-old’s absence is based more on his veteran status.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot) and safety Terrence Brooks (knee) went through pre-game warmups and appear set to make their preseason debuts. Smith was held out of the first preseason game for precautionary reasons while Brooks was activated from the physically unable to perform list earlier this week.

As expected, rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman will not play against the Eagles as he remains sidelined with a knee injury suffered on July 30. Joining him on the sideline is second-year wideout Michael Campanaro, who did not take part in Friday’s walk-through practice in Philadelphia.

The referee for Saturday’s game is Jerome Boger.

The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys with white pants while Philadelphia dons its white tops with white pants.

Baltimore is 47-29 in all-time preseason play and 20-9 under Harbaugh. The Ravens and the Eagles are meeting in the preseason for the 12th time with Baltimore owning a 7-4 record.

Teams are not required to release a list of inactive for preseason games, but below is an unofficial list of Ravens players on the 90-man roster who are not expected to play on Saturday night:

WR Michael Campanaro
WR Breshad Perriman
CB Lardarius Webb
LB Steven Means
OT Darryl Baldwin
OT Blaine Clausell
G John Urschel
OT Rick Wagner
G Kelechi Osemele
OT Jah Reid
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore
DE Chris Canty
TE Dennis Pitta
TE Allen Reisner
S Matt Elam
DE Brent Urban

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The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-12 at M&T Bank Stadium on December 14, 2014. Photo by Shawn Hubbard

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Ravens-Eagles preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 22 August 2015 by Luke Jones

A four-day trip to Philadelphia culminates with the Ravens’ second preseason game of the summer with the Eagles on Saturday night.

Unlike last year’s three-day practice session with San Francisco that followed a preseason game, the Ravens should be very familiar with Chip Kelly’s team after two days of full workouts and Friday’s walk-through leading into their preseason contest. By most accounts, the trip was productive with only a few skirmishes that paled in comparison to fights that have taken place elsewhere between teams practicing together.

“They treated us very well, and we had three really good practices with a good football team,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “We felt like we’ve improved. You see schemes you don’t normally see, the way routes are run or different types of plays on both sides of the ball that you don’t normally see. It’s great to get a chance to expose yourself to some different schemes.”

After the starting offense put together a 16-play touchdown drive in its only action in the preseason opener, Harbaugh could push his starters to play the entire first quarter in the second game of the summer. As always, that will depend on the number of plays each drive consumes and the plan will be individualized with some starters being removed early and younger first-teamers playing a little bit more.

Saturday marks the first time that Baltimore will play the Eagles in the preseason since 2011. The teams played in 10 out of the first 12 years of the Ravens’ existence, making the recent lull somewhat surprising given the geographic proximity between the teams.

The Ravens are 7-4 against Philadephia in the all-time preseason series and 1-2-1 against them in their regular-season history. They are set to meet in the 2016 regular season, which will push back a joint-practice reunion until at least the following year.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what the injury report would look like if one were to be released ahead of Saturday night’s game in Philadelphia.

Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will be in question. This list, of course, will not include any veterans who may be held out of the preseason opener due to the coaching staff’s preference.

Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:

OUT: WR Breshad Perriman (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (hamstring), TE Dennis Pitta (hip), S Matt Elam (biceps), DE Brent Urban (biceps), TE Allen Reisner (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: G Kelechi Osemele (Achilles), OT Jah Reid (back), LB Steven Means (groin)
QUESTIONABLE: OT Rick Wagner (foot), S Terrence Brooks (knee), G John Urschel (concussion), G Robert Myers (concussion), DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (undisclosed), OT Darryl Baldwin (undisclosed), OL Blaine Clausell (undisclosed)
PROBABLE: DT Timmy Jernigan (foot), WR Marlon Brown (back), DE DeAngelo Tyson (elbow), CB Asa Jackson (knee)

Five players to watch Saturday night

CB Rashaan Melvin

The absence of Lardarius Webb continues to create more opportunities for Melvin, who did a respectable job down the stretch last year until major struggles in the playoff loss to New England. Overall, the 6-foot-2 corner has practiced well this summer, impressing against the Eagles this week. With veteran Kyle Arrington better suited to play inside in the nickel package, the 25-year-old Melvin is an intriguing option for the future with Webb approaching 30 and not the player he was a few years ago. A strong performance by Melvin in the second preseason game could put some heat on the veteran once his hamstring is finally healthy.

WR Darren Waller

Few players have improved as much from the spring until now as the sixth-round pick from Georgia Tech, who is developing rapidly for a 6-foot-6 receiver with few opportunities in Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack. Despite being 245 pounds, Waller runs better routes than you’d expect and is sinking his hips better when trying to change directions. At the start of the summer, the practice squad appeared to be a realistic option for the tall wideout, but Waller looks more and more like a player who could help the Ravens inside the red zone while continuing to learn the finer points of the position. Baltimore has had plenty of tall receivers in the past, but he shows signs of a better skill set to go along with his height.

OL Ryan Jensen

With Osemele, Urschel, and Myers all recently dealing with health concerns, Jensen could draw a start at left guard against the Eagles after playing well this summer. A favorite of offensive line coach Juan Castillo, the Colorado State-Pueblo product is moving into position to earn a roster spot with the ability to play all three interior line positions, the kind of versatility that is valuable on game days. At 6-foor-4 and 310 pounds, Jensen will have his hands full with a very talented Philadelphia defensive line, but Saturday will be a good litmus test if he indeed plays in place of the hobbled Osemele.

LB Albert McClellan

The veteran linebacker has been a mainstay on the roster, but the younger Zach Orr has emerged as not only a special-teams standout but a viable backup linebacker and it’s clear the Ravens would still like to salvage some value out of disappointing 2013 second-round pick Arthur Brown. These factors make you wonder if there will be room for all three on the 53-man roster. McClellan struggled at inside linebacker in the preseason opener, but he does have the ability to play all four linebacker spots in the Baltimore base defense, something that shouldn’t be overlooked when only a few reserve linebackers are active on game days. He’ll need to have a better showing against the Eagles to improve his roster standing.

TE Nick Boyle

Second-round pick Maxx Williams clearly possesses more upside for the future, but Boyle is showing more ability as a receiver than many anticipated and had a strong showing practicing against the Eagles this week. He has had some issues with drops at times, but the Ravens liked his hands at Delaware and believe he can be a solid all-around player at the position. Crockett Gillmore is the clear No. 1 tight end at this point, but Boyle’s ability to block and catch a few passes might earn him a few more chances in certain formations than Williams. He could be a surprising contributor inside the red zone if he can show consistent ability to block as a rookie, which the Ravens will need behind Gillmore’s expanded role.

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Orioles preparing to call up Parmelee from Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 15 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Mulling ways to improve their corner outfield situation, the Orioles are preparing to select the contract of Chris Parmelee from Triple-A Norfolk as early as Tuesday.

The 2006 first-round pick of the Minnesota Twins joined the Orioles in Baltimore prior to the series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, but manager Buck Showalter confirmed he would not be activated for Monday’s game. Parmelee had a June 15 opt-out clause in the minor-league contract he signed with the club in the offseason and had already extended it once earlier this season.

Seeing time at both corner outfield spots as well as at first base with the Tides, the 27-year-old was hitting .316 with six home runs, 32 RBIs, 13 doubles, and an .826 on-base plus slugging percentage in 265 plate appearances this season. Parmelee was a career .249 hitter with 24 homers, 85 RBIs, and a .709 OPS in 901 plate appearances for the Twins over four major league seasons.

“We like him. He’s having as good of a year as anybody in Triple A for our team and for the other teams,” Showalter said. “He’s played the outfield well and first base. He can do a lot of things.”

Parmelee was in the clubhouse and took batting practice, but he was not permitted to be in the dugout during Monday’s game.

The Orioles hope he can offer some offensive production from the left side of the plate that they haven’t received from lefty outfielders Travis Snider and David Lough so far this season. It will be interesting to see how the club makes room for him on the 25-man roster since Snider, Lough, and Steve Pearce are all out of minor-league options.

Parmelee hopes the success he had in the International League will translate to helping the Orioles continue their recent winning ways.

“I’m just trying to stay as consistent as possible,” Parmelee said. “It goes from the routine in the cage and coming out and running every day and having a routine and staying with it. Staying positive is one of the most important things. The decision was made, and I’m happy to be here.”

Schoop back in Baltimore

Returning from a lengthy stint at extended spring training in Sarasota, second baseman Jonathan Schoop was back on the field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Monday afternoon, fielding grounders and taking batting practice.

Schoop has been sidelined with a right knee injury for the last two months, but he is currently scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie on Friday.

“That was encouraging. That was fun to watch,” said Showalter of Schoop’s on-field workout. “He looks good. He should. He was pretty excited to get out of [Florida].”

Schoop has received plenty of at-bats in extended spring games, but the last hurdle to clear for the 23-year-old was decelerating when running, according to Showalter. The infielder hadn’t been playing the field in those extended spring games, but vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson traveled to Sarasota last week to work out Schoop to gauge where he was from a physical standpoint.

Simply rejoining his teammates in Baltimore and knowing he’ll be traveling with them to Philadelphia later this week has Schoop excited about his pending return. Showalter has stressed that the Orioles will be cautious in making sure the young infielder is completely ready before activating him from the disabled list.

“I want to play. I feel strong and I’m not thinking about [the knee],” Schoop said. “I feel stronger than before.”

Machado named AL Player of the Week

Third baseman Manny Machado was named American League Player of the Week from June 8-14 while helping the Orioles to a season-high six-game winning streak.

The 22-year-old collected four multi-hit games and batted .458 (11-for-24) with two homers, five RBIs, and a 1.269 OPS. Machado entered Monday’s game sporting an eight-game hitting streak.

“It feels good. It was a good week for the team and it was mostly a team thing,” said Machado of the award. “The team was playing well and we were all hitting well. If it wasn’t for my teammates and my guys being on base, I wouldn’t have been here.”

W. Wright to begin rehab assignment

Left-handed relief pitcher Wesley Wright will begin a minor-league rehab assignment on Tuesday and is scheduled to pitch one inning for Triple-A Norfolk.

The 30-year-old has been on the disabled list with a left trapezius strain since the first week of the regular season.

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Ravens to hold open stadium practice on Aug. 3

Posted on 09 June 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens have finalized their 2015 training camp schedule, which will again include an open practice at M&T Bank Stadium for fans to attend.

In what’s become a yearly tradition, fans are invited attend the stadium practice on Monday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. for an early look at this year’s Ravens. Admission is free.

The first full-squad camp practice takes place on July 30, a day after all veterans must report to the team’s Owings Mills training complex for the first team meeting of the summer.

Rookies report on July 22 with injured veterans arriving on July 24 and quarterbacks on July 26. Players must report for physicals, conditioning tests, and football school before they are allowed to practice.

Training camp breaks on Aug. 18 when the team travels to Philadelphia for three days of practices with the Eagles before their nationally-televised preseason game on Aug. 22.

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Ravens to have joint practices with Eagles in Philadelphia

Posted on 09 May 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — For the second straight year, the Ravens will participate in joint practices with one of their preseason opponents during this summer’s training camp.

After hosting the San Francisco 49ers for three practices following the preseason opener last summer, head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens will travel to the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia to work out for three days with the Eagles prior to their preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on Aug. 22. Harbaugh will finalize the practice schedule with Eagles head coach Chip Kelly in the near future.

Unlike last year when he was welcoming his brother to Owings Mills, Harbaugh says he isn’t very familiar with Kelly, but Jim Harbaugh — the former head coach at Stanford — coached against Kelly’s Oregon Ducks for several years in what is now known as the Pacific-12 Conference.

“We’re excited about that. We’re looking forward to it,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know Chip very well, but Jim’s always spoken real highly of him, and I obviously have great respect for him.”

The Ravens had never held practices with another team prior to last year, but they previously scrimmaged with the Washington Redskins a few times prior to the Harbaugh era. Baltimore hasn’t played the Eagles since 2012 and will host Philadelphia in the regular season next year, which would likely rule out a potential trip by the Eagles to Owings Mills next summer.

This summer will mark the first preseason game between the Ravens and the Eagles since 2011. The Interstate 95 neighbors have met 11 times in the preseason with Baltimore holding a 7-4 edge.

“We were just talking at the owners’ meetings,” said Harbaugh about his interactions with Kelly. “We were kind of wondering why we don’t play each other more in the preseason and to see if we can work something out. It looks like we’re going to be able to do that.”

Ravens studying logistics for trips out west

With two occurrences of back-to-back road games against teams out west, the Ravens continue to weigh their options over whether to stay out there to limit the number of cross-country trips in the regular season.

Nothing is set in stone, but the Ravens may remain out west after their season opener against Denver to then play at Oakland in Week 2. Baltimore also plays in San Francisco in Week 6 before traveling to Arizona for a Monday night game the following week.

“We have not made a final decision on staying out there. We’re leaning in that direction, especially the first week,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see about the second week; it’s a little bit of a longer trip. We have a couple of sleep-study doctors and time-zone doctors and things like that who we’re talking to.

“We just want to do the smartest thing, whatever it is. We’ll probably have a decision on that within two weeks, I’d say.”

Cornerback injured

After the Ravens’ well-documented injuries at cornerback during the 2014 season, the first injury of 2015 was suffered by another playing that same position.

Participating in this weekend’s rookie minicamp, free-agent cornerback Julian Wilson suffered a fractured lower leg on Friday and will miss the 2015 season. The 6-foot-2 Oklahoma product was considered an undrafted rookie to watch this summer, but he will instead spend his rookie season on injured reserve.

“He’ll be out for the year, and he’ll move on from that,” Harbaugh said. “He’ll still be with us and be a part of us. He has a lot of potential as a player, so it was disappointing in that sense.”

Harbaugh mum on Wells report

Asked to comment about the Ted Wells report released on the New England Patriots’ deflated footballs scandal, Harbaugh wasn’t about to take the bait.

“Our business is right here,” said Harbaugh, who declined comment and quipped that he’s been too busy to read the entire report. “This is our business right here in Baltimore. We’ll take care of our business. Thanks.”

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Ravens unveil 2015 preseason schedule

Posted on 09 April 2015 by Luke Jones

As we wait for the NFL to release the 2015 regular-season schedule later this month, the Ravens announced their preseason schedule for their 20th year in Baltimore on Thursday.

The slate of preseason contests features home contests against the New Orleans Saints and the Washington Redskins while the Ravens will travel to Philadelphia and Atlanta. Baltimore isn’t schedule to meet any of its exhibition opponents in the regular season.

After the teams played their preseason finale in New Orleans last August, the Saints will travel to M&T Bank Stadium to meet the Ravens to kick off the preseason on Aug. 13. This will mark the third time that the Ravens have played New Orleans in the summer, but this will be the first contest played in Baltimore.

The Ravens will take on the Eagles in their first road preseason game on either Aug. 21 or Aug. 22 at Lincoln Financial Field. This will mark the 12th time these teams will have played against each other in the preseason with the Ravens owning the 7-4 series advantage.

The all-important third preseason game will take place on either Aug. 28 or Aug. 29 when the Ravens host Washington. This is typically the game in which starters receive their most extensive playing time of the summer in preparation for the start of the regular season. This year will mark the ninth preseason meeting between the close neighbors with the Ravens owning a 6-2 edge.

Season-ticket holders already miffed by preseason prices can once again take solace in knowing that the painfully-dull final game will be played on the road for the seventh consecutive year when the Ravens travel to Atlanta on Sept. 3. Baltimore owns a 7-3 advantage in the preseason series as this will be the eighth one hosted by the Falcons

The Ravens are 46-29 in their preseason history and have compiled a 19-9 record during the preseason in the John Harbaugh era.

Times and final dates will be announced at a later time.

Week 1: Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. New Orleans Saints
Week 2: Friday, Aug. 21 or Saturday, Aug. 22 at Philadelphia Eagles
Week 3: Friday, Aug. 28 or Saturday, Aug. 29 vs. Washington Redskins
Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 3 at Atlanta Falcons

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Report: Orioles discussing Burnett trade with Phillies

Posted on 20 July 2014 by Glenn Clark

With Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline less than two weeks away, the Baltimore Orioles are apparently pursuing help for their starting rotation. FoxSports.com/Fox Sports 1’s Jon Morosi reported the following Saturday…



The right hander is 6-9 this season with a 4.08 ERA and 1.361 WHIP over 21 starts in 2014-although he has shown durability by working 136.2 innings-over six innings per start. The 16 year veteran signed a deal with the Phils in the offseason after receiving interest from the Birds in free agency. Burnett’s contract is a bit complicated, as explained in a NJ.com report…

Burnett’s contract could scare off potential suitors if the Phillies don’t eat money in a complex one-year, $16 million contract that easily could turn into a two-year, $32.25 million deal by virtue of a 2015 player option and performance bonuses.

If Burnett stays healthy this season and doesn’t play in 2015, a team trading for him this month could end up paying as little as $5.25 million – $2.5 million in salary, $1.75 million in bonuses (if he makes 10 more starts) and a $1 million buyout.

But if Burnett opts to play in 2015 and he makes 32 starts this season – he’s 12 away – his club option jumps from $8.5 million to $12.75 million. He also can earn another $500,000 next season for making his 24th and 27th starts, and $750,000 for making his 30th start.

Burnett last pitched in the American League in 2011 with the New York Yankees (where he had won a World Series ring in 2009), going 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA. It was his second consecutive season with a five plus ERA for the Yanks, although he followed it up with consecutive sub four ERA seasons after moving to the National League and joining the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Phillies have been expected to be interested in moving a number of veterans, perhaps also including fellow pitchers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels as well as second baseman Chase Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Philly improved to 43-54 Saturday after a 2-1 over the Atlanta Braves. They are 10 games back of the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

Burnett has a no-trade clause in his contract with Philly, but it is believed the O’s are not one of the 21 teams he could block a deal to as his family lives in Monkton. The starter had reportedly chosen the Phillies in part because he did not want to pitch in the AL.

A logjam already exists in the starting rotation in Charm City, as Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez will re-join Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Kevin Gausman this week. Ubaldo Jimenez (ankle) is slated to return closer to August and the Orioles have not ruled out returning to a six man rotation. Acquiring Burnett or another starter before July 31 would leave the Birds with difficult roster decisions to make. Gonzalez and Chen would seem to be the most likely candidates to be moved to the bullpen.

It is not known what the Phillies would be seeking in compensation for Burnett. Most reports have suggested the O’s would not be likely to part with Gausman or fellow former first round draft pick pitchers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey. Other Orioles prospects who could potentially be interesting to the Phillies or another team looking to make a trade include pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez, Mike Wright and Tim Berry; outfielder Dariel Alvarez and first baseman Christian Walker.

Burnett was roughed up in his most recent start, allowing six earned runs on ten hits and a walk over five innings in a loss to the Braves.

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Former Towson OT Pike, Morgan OL Barton sign UDFA deals

Posted on 12 May 2014 by WNST Staff

TOWSON, Md. – Towson Football alumnus and former All-American offensive tackle Eric Pike signed a free agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts today after the conclusion of the 2014 National Football League (NFL) draft.

A two-year captain, Pike was a consensus first team All-American selection as a senior. He earned All-Colonial Athletic Association honors three times, including first team notice as a junior and senior. During his career, he helped the Tigers win two CAA championships and make two appearances in the NCAA FCS playoffs. As a senior, he helped the Tigers post a 13-3 record and reach the national championship game.

Pike was named as the winner of the Doc Minnegan Award as the team’s Most Valuable Player. He set a school record by starting all 50 games of his college career and is only the third offensive lineman to win the award which was started in 1969. He joins Mike Gunthrop (1992) and Joe Ripple (2005) as the only linemen to be honored with the award which was named in honor of former Towson Director of Athletics Doc Minnegan.

NOTE: Former Morgan State OL Karim Barton has reportedly signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles as well

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Orioles split squad doubleheader rained out Monday

Posted on 17 March 2014 by WNST Staff

TONIGHT’S ORIOLES-TWINS GAME AT ED SMITH STADIUM CANCELLED DUE TO RAIN

            Tonight’s Orioles-Twins game at Ed Smith Stadium has been cancelled due to rain. There will be no makeup date. Fans holding paid tickets for tonight’s game may exchange their tickets for any of the remaining Spring Training games at Ed Smith Stadium, subject to availability, or obtain a refund. (The day’s earlier game against the Philadelphia Philles was also rained out.)

Additionally, the St. Patrick’s Day green and black caps the Orioles were to wear tonight will be worn in Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Following the game, the caps will be autographed and auctioned online at www.orioles.com/auction, to benefit the animal hospitals at Mote Marine Laboratory.

The Sarasota-based hospitals treat sick and injured dolphins, small whales and sea turtles with the goal of returning them to the wild. Fans can learn more about Mote’s animal hospitals at the OriolesREACH community booth on the main concourse during the game.

On non-game days, tickets may be exchanged at the stadium box office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On the day of a game, beginning two hours prior to game time, tickets may be exchanged for that game only at the ticket windows. Fans who would like to exchange their tickets for a prime game will be required to pay the difference in cost.

To obtain a refund for paid tickets, fans should send the original game tickets via certified mail to:

 

Baltimore Orioles

March 17 Spring Training Rainout

Ed Smith Stadium

2700 12th Street

Sarasota, FL 34237

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Caps Rally From 3 Down To Best Flyers in Shootout

Posted on 15 December 2013 by Ed Frankovic

If you attended or watched the Caps-Flyers contest today, you saw one wild hockey game.

After a strong start by the Capitals, Philadelphia rebounded to tie the game late in the first period, dominated the second frame, and scored two quick goals early in the third period to take a 4-1 advantage. The third of those four goals came from Sean Couturier from the corner and behind the goal line. He shot the puck off of Philipp Grubauer and into the cage for a goal that deflated the Caps and the crowd. Then when Jakub Voracek deflected a Michael Raffl shot home at 3:32 of the final frame (74 seconds after the third goal), it looked like the Flyers would avenge the 7-0 drubbing they took from the Capitals back on November 1st.

But not so fast with the 2013-14 Capitals, who had already come back four times after two periods to win contests this season. The Caps started getting pucks and bodies to the net and Mike Green’s goal with 8:40 left gave Washington life. After a failed power play, the Caps kept the pressure on and Dmitry Orlov lasered one by Steve Mason with 3:31 to go after a face off win and suddenly it was a one goal hockey game. The Verizon Center crowd went nuts and the Capitals kept on coming with wave after wave like they were storming the beaches of Normandy. With Grubauer pulled and the extra attacker on, Mason decided to try and play the puck behind his own net but he gave it right to Joel Ward. #42 then found a streaking Alex Ovechkin in the slot and the Gr8 doesn’t fail in the clutch, snapping one by Mason giving the Capitals their third goal in just under eight minutes to send the game to overtime.

The Caps would go on to win, 2-1, in the gimmick and improve to 18-12-3 (39 points), good for a four point lead over the third place Carolina Hurricanes in the Metropolitan division.

Trying to make sense of this game, quite honestly, makes little sense. Green told me afterwards that the vast swings in play were simply typical momentum shifts you see in games. He said that there are real no answers for it. #52 is probably right.

Both the Caps and the Flyers wanted this game very badly and were giving all they had at various times. Washington did manage to get those last three goals by getting pucks to the point for shots with traffic. Green stated afterwards that the coaches and players noticed that Philly was sagging back and that the forwards were reminded that the defensemen were getting room to shoot. With big guns like Green, John Carlson, and Orlov on the point, it made sense for the Caps to “simplify” as Marcus Johansson (1 goal, 1 assist) called it and get shots with traffic on Mason. Clearly it worked and the Flyers were likely guilty of thinking they had the game won when they were up 3 pucks.

With the Caps offensive skills, they are rarely out of a game these days.

Once the game goes to the skills exhibition, it’s anyone’s to win. However, Grubauer said that he watched video of the two previous shootouts this week and he learned some things from it. He said that his objective was not to commit and make the first move because it gives the shooter an advantage that they often capitalize on. Only world class forward Claude Giroux got one by the German goalie while Eric Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom scored for the Caps in the shootout. Grubauer made 24 saves plus the two shootout stops and is now 3-0-1. He made some great saves at other times during this contest, but would definitely like the second and third goals back. With the Caps going to Philadelphia on Tuesday for round three of the season series, I’d imagine that Braden Holtby gets the nod in the cage given his good record on Broad Street.

As for Ovechkin, he had a sweet pass to set up Johansson for the first goal on the power play and his tying tally was his 27th goal of the season. He had seven shots on net in 25:08 of ice time. He, Green, Johansson, and numerous others were way better than they’d been in Florida on Friday and that was a big reason the Caps came back. The Flyers let off the gas and appeared to run out of energy too. Perhaps they used up too much fuel when they seized the middle portion of the game?

Who knows? Like Green said, there are no easy answers for it.

One thing for sure, though, is this Capitals team has character and does not fold the tent when down. Five of their victories have now come from third period rallies and that is very impressive.

The naysayers will complain about too many wins coming from shootouts or state that they are in a weak division, but this team has been in nearly every game this season. They are still figuring out the best way to play on the back end under Oates’ system and that has been complicated by a rotation of different personnel on defense. The coach told me after the game that he prefers that his defensemen move the puck within the first five feet once they get it, and that has to be an adjustment for guys like Green and Orlov, who like to carry the biscuit. Perhaps that is why #52 has been very up and down this season?

Former Coach Bruce Boudreau called Green the “One Man Breakout” and Orlov has that capability too. But if your head coach doesn’t prefer that style, one would have to think that would cause mistakes and an adjustment period? It’s something to continue to watch as the season progresses. Do the players adhere to Oates’ preferred method or is there a give and take between players and coaches to maximize some seriously strong defensive puck handling ability on the back end that the Caps could and probably should take advantage of? After all, what if Glen Sather told Paul Coffey he couldn’t skate with the puck more than five feet, how would that have worked out in Edmonton?

Oates is a smart hockey mind and I understand why he wants the puck moved up as quickly as possible. If a defensemen is coming with speed, he can pass the puck and then get it back from a player who is further up the ice. The puck moves faster than the players, at least that is the philosophy of the strategy, but if the forwards aren’t open or are being taken away by the opposition then the defensemen certainly have to adjust, right? It’s an interesting topic and I’m guessing that there have been many discussions on it between the head coach, assistant Calle Johansson, and some of the defensemen.

Whatever they end up doing, one thing is for sure: you can’t win hockey games with a bad defense. The Caps need to find a way to maximize the skills they have back there. Carlson and Karl Alzner are playing great hockey but the team needs Green and Orlov to play at a strong level too for Washington to be a puck possession dominating club.

Stay tuned.

Notes: Mikhail Grabovski didn’t play due to illness and that forced Oates to move Jay Beagle to center Troy Brouwer and Fehr while Michael Latta was recalled from Hershey and centered the fourth line. Nate Schmidt was sent to Chocolatetown to make room for #46, who ended up leaving the game early with a lower body injury. Latta did have a good scrap with Zac Rinaldo in period two. Steve Oleksy fought Wayne Simmonds early in period three, right before the third Philly goal…Washington had the shots on goal advantage, 33-28, but the Flyers won the shot attempt battle, 55-50…Washington was 40-29 from the dot, including some big offensive zone draw wins in the final 10 minutes…Carlson led the Caps in ice time with 29:38.

 

 

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