The scoreboard will show the Washington Capitals won again at home, 4-3, to run their record at the Verizon Center to 16-5-1 this season but I am pretty sure that coach Dale Hunter won’t be very pleased about his team’s performance over the last 30 minutes. The Caps raced out to a 3-0 lead in this one buoyed by two first period power play goals but they let their foot off of the gas and Tampa Bay nearly tied it up in the waning seconds. Troy Brouwer notched a hat trick when he hit the empty net with 59 ticks left, but the Bolts scored with 10 seconds remaining with the goalie pulled and narrowly missed the game tyer at the buzzer.
This game started so nicely for the Caps as they dominated a Lightning team that played the night before by winning nearly every battle to the loose pucks. Washington received the first three power plays as a result and made Bolts coach Guy Boucher’s club pay. At the midpoint of the game, the Capitals were still carrying the play but then at the 12:42 mark of period two Karl Alzner decided to get in a fight with Tampa’s chief punk, Steve Downie. It was a terrible move by 27 and after that the game was mostly Tampa. It was Alzner’s first NHL fight (he had three in the Western Hockey League playing Juniors, h/t @JapersRink) and he couldn’t have picked a worse time because he gave the Bolts life. I am sure that Hunter will have a chat with the young defensemen about his decision after the contest. The Capitals do need to get tougher with opposing players who routinely take liberties against them, but that was not the time to do that. I’m sure Alzner will learn.
Still, when you are playing a team that has lost five straight and has horrible goaltending you can not let your foot off of the gas regardless of one altercation. Every other Capitals player had a chance to pick his play up but didn’t for the next 20 minutes. What transpired was the Caps made a mistake behind their own net (Mike Knuble) and the Bolts cut it to 3-1 heading into the final frame.
At that point, given that the Bolts had to be tired, the opening minutes and beyond of the third period should’ve been all Caps, like they were against the Pens on Wednesday, but a Tampa squad that has talent up front fought back. The Capitals failed to get pucks on net against an aging and poorly peforming netminder. They also were a bit unlucky on their fourth power play as Alexander Semin hit two posts in about 10 seconds. Still, good squads find ways to bury opponents when they are down and Washington couldn’t do that tonight.
Tomas Vokoun (29 saves) received his eighth straight start and was solid in net. #29 made some quality saves before Steven Stamkos practically single handedly brought his team back. Good goaltending goes a long way in the NHL and that was the difference in the game on Friday night.
At the end of the day, a win is a win is a win, but the Capitals need to find a way to take the life from the opposition when they get a lead if they want to move back into the NHL’s elite. On Friday they showed that they still can’t do that yet.
Notes: Brooks Laich and Dennis Wideman had two assists…Wideman led the Caps in ice time but instead of keeping the puck in the corner in the dying seconds he made an error and tried to fire it up the boards giving Tampa a remote chance to tie it up. #6 has to be smarter in his own end…Tampa was 1 for 5 with the man advantage and the Caps were 2 for 4. Washington needs to stay out of the box. They had a too many men on the ice penalty and a delay of game infraction. Those types of penalties are unnecessary…the Caps only had 12 shots on net the last 40 minutes, one of which was Brouwer’s empty net, that won’t allow a club to close out a game they should win easily…Nicklas Backstrom is still out due to injury (head injury) and may not return until after the All Star break…Washington’s win coupled with the Panthers loss to the Penguins puts the Capitals just two points behind Florida in the Southeast Division race. The Caps have a game in hand too…next up for the Caps are the Carolina Hurricanes at 5 pm on Sunday at the Verizon Center.
Perhaps Flynn’s success had much more to do with the Green Bay Packers’ scheme & wide receivers and even the Detroit Lions’ less than exceptional defense than the former LSU quarterback himself. But as he enters free agency, Flynn may have just made himself a viable option for teams that won’t enter 2012 with Andrew Luck on their roster.
Of course, 80 of his 480 yards and one of his five touchdowns came on this play to Ryan Grant. I’m pretty sure Ryan Chell could have made this throw…
The Packers can sit back and wait to find out who they’ll play in the divisional round while the Lions get to visit the Superdome next weekend. But I’d say it’s pretty much a toss-up as to who has the more difficult road ahead.
In an unrelated story, the Packers went with Pat Lee as their kick returner for the New Year’s Day game. He did something stupid…
And one more-here’s Packers LB Brad Jones handling a fan who ran out onto Lambeau Field…
Much like the Fins a week earlier, the Buffalo Bills worked Charm City into a lather with hopes of ruining the Pats’ run to the Number 1 seed. Also much like the Fins, the Bills for some reason must have thought New England would quit when they fell behind early. But after spotting the Bills 21 points, the Patriots would go on to score the next 49.
But they can’t possibly win the AFC of course because their defense isn’t good enough.
You’ll see a lot of funny things in 2012. I’ll go ahead and guess that there won’t be many funnier than this Drayton Florence flop…
Also of note in this game was Bills WR Stevie Johnson, who exposed a “Happy New Year” message on an undershirt after scoring a touchdown…
It’s a shame Tom Brady didn’t have a “Happy 28 Point Beatdown” undershirt to respond with. For a semi-decent receiver, Johnson is about a full-fledged clown.
Before departing his Offensive Coordinator gig at Auburn, Malzahn pulled out a bunch of tricks (including a Statue of Liberty Play of all things) to help beat Virginia in the Georgia Dome…
Elsewhere on New Year’s Eve Levi LaVallee and Robbie Maddison were doing extreme sport jumping of some sort on ESPN that may or may not have been amazing. None of us really know and none of us really bothered to watch. But technically it happened!
How did I spend my NYE you ask? At a place I can’t name because they aren’t a sponsor. They ARE however the home of Sweet Potato Tots and the “Billy Goat’s Gruff”…
I’d show you video of the play, but it’s not available on YouTube. Instead, those of you who REALLY wanna see it can check it out here and the rest of you can look at this picture of Elsa Hosk. We’ll all meet back at the local saloon.
The San Francisco 49ers clinched the #2 seed in the NFC thanks to their win over the St. Louis Rams. In Baltimore, we just want to say Thank You again. We can’t really say it enough.
The Rams will fire Steve Spagnuolo according to reports. Also according to reports, it will be cold this week.
The Houston Texans didn’t need to beat the Tennessee Titans Sunday for any tangible reason. They didn’t, thanks to Kubiak’s decision to go for 2 late (a decision that backfired after a Joel Dreessen false start and a snap sailed over the head of QB Jake Delhomme-who replaced a banged up T.J. Yates). Let’s take a look at the video board…
Earlier in the game, Bryan Braman made an awesome play…
The Texans host the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the postseason. If they win, the Texans visit M&T Bank Stadium in the divisional round. I would think most of us would be pretty happy with that matchup, especially considering the Steelers could be another option.
Of course, that’s the only if Michael Vick stays healthy…and we all know that’s a significant “if.”
The highlight of the day in Philly happened well before Philly kicked the tar out of the Washington Redskins. It happened when Skins OC Kyle Shanahan tried to pump his team up before the game. It was HILARIOUS…
The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg joined me in studio Wednesday on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net. We held a very special year-end awards show that we cleverly titled “The Van Clarkenburgs.” Here is a rundown of our winners…
Glenn Clark: O’s decision to bring Zach Britton up with team from Spring Training
Kevin Van Valkenburg: Britton’s May 18 start vs. New York Yankees
Glenn: Birds’ decision to demote Britton midway through season
Kevin: Mike Flanagan suicide death
Glenn: Terrell Suggs
Kevin: Drafting Torrey Smith
Glenn: Trading for Lee Evans instead of signing free agent Malcom Floyd
Kevin: 12-7 loss to Jacksonville Jaguars October 24
“Best Other Local Sports”-
Glenn: Towson University Football
Kevin: Graham Motion trained Animal Kingdom wins Kentucky Derby
“Worst Other Local Sports”-
Glenn: Randy Edsall’s first season in College Park
Kevin: Kevin Anderson’s handling of Mike Leach, Sean Miller
What topic deserved more conversation in 2011?
Glenn: Novak Djokovic’s incredible season
Kevin: Ugly nature of NCAA/College Sports
What topic received too much conversation?
Glenn: Tim Tebow
Kevin: LeBron James
Who did the best coaching job in 2011?
Glenn: Joe Maddon
Kevin: Rick Carlisle
Who did the worst coaching job in 2011?
Glenn: Norv Turner
Kevin: Norv Turner
What was the best game you attended in 2011?
Glenn: Maryland’s 4-3 2OT soccer win at UMBC
Kevin: Baltimore Ravens’ 23-20 win over Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field
What was the best game you watched on TV in 2011?
Glenn: World Series Game 6 St. Louis Cardinals/Texas Rangers
Kevin: Women’s World Cup Quarterfinal Team USA/Brazil
What about sports were we “better off” for in 2011?
Glenn: NBA starting on Christmas Day
Kevin: Appreciation of Women’s World Cup
What sports media type do you love but hate to follow on Twitter?
Glenn: Gregg Doyel (CBSSports.com)
Kevin: Darren Rovell (CNBC)
The ESPY Awards are an annual event put on by ESPN that you’ve never watched from start to finish despite the fact that the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” promotes them for about 6 months.
And since you likely won’t be watching next July, I’ll prevent the suspense. Jerome Simpson’s TD catch for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Arizona Cardinals Saturday wins SOMETHING.
As our own Brian Billick said on FOX, “you don’t get style points in the NFL but that oughtta be worth eight.”
Oh, and don’t look now but Cincy is playing great football just before they welcome the Ravens to Paul Brown Stadium next Sunday with the fate of the AFC North hanging in the balance. I don’t want to talk about that right now though. Perhaps never.
As someone who roots for a baseball team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 1997, I know a thing or two about what it must have felt like for fans in the Music City to watch their team clinch a Wild Card spot in the final moments of their win over the San Diego Chargers Saturday night…
The Bolts were finally eliminated from the playoffs, which you would assume will lead to Norv Turner’s firing. They may or may not have already interviewed Bill Cowher for Turner’s job, and Jon Gruden may or may not be next.
In the meantime, if you’re going to lose at least do it with amazing hair like SD DE Antonio Garay…
It was the final win of a record-setting career for the Broncos quarterback, it was just really unfortunate it happened in this venue instead of in a BCS bowl, as America would have enjoyed watching them play a team that actually gave a s**t…
The win came as rumors swirled that Penn State was interested in hiring BSU coach Chris Petersen. In a related story, I am interested in being hired by Saturday Night Live.
Petersen obviously is not interested in replacing Joe Paterno in State College. And if you were living as large as this dude is, why would you take ANY job?
In the Carolina Panthers’ win over the Bucs Saturday, Newton broke National Football League records for rookie passing yards (Peyton Manning) and quarterback rushing touchdowns (Steve Grogan). He did it in pretty spectacular fashion…
Things couldn’t be worse for the Bucs. Head coach Raheem Morris apparently “sent home” DE Brian Price after getting a 15 yard personal foul call and the team’s freefall continued on toward what looks more and more likely to be Morris’ ultimate firing.
I kinda feel bad for them. Perhaps I should offer some of my mom (the great Karen Clark)’s holiday stuffed shells…
Matt Barkley returning to Southern California is confusing because we know he would have been a potential Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft, but we also know what could be ahead. Heisman Trophy, Pac 12 & BCS Championship hopes and bevies of hot chicks.
I mean, the guy can play Jason Mraz on the guitar. He must be dodging panties every day he walks around Los Angeles. Tough life there…
With the Pats trailing the Miami Dolphins 17-0 at halftime Saturday, Facebook and Twitter were alive in Charm City with hopes of the Ravens still having a shot at the #1 seed in the AFC.
I however looked at my executive producer Ryan Chell and said “when Tom Brady decides to start playing I think they’ll be fine.”
They were. The Pats charged back from the halftime deficit to beat the Fins and are now a win away from clinching the #1 seed in the AFC. Apparently none of that is enough for owner Robert Kraft to get a high five…
Also, this looks like a good holiday film/way to make sure you don’t struggle in the red zone…
Of note for Miami, Reggie Bush remarkably ran for 100+ yards AGAIN in the defeat and we learned this weekend his mom does not want him to get back together with Kim Kardashian. That’s fine, I think Catalina Otalvaro would be a better catch anyway…