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Bud Peter

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 13): Mi$ter Angelo$ & $on$ Network change$ everything for two citie$

Posted on 04 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

This is Chapter 13 of the upcoming book, “The Peter Principles.” This lengthy excerpt is a prelude to a WNST report on ten years of MASN money and how Washington baseball has affected Baltimore baseball over the past decade. The first three chapters of the book are available here:

The Peter Principles (Ch. 1): So, just how did Angelos become ‘King’ of Baltimore baseball?

The Peter Principles (Ch. 2): The error of tyranny at Camden Yards

The Peter Principles (Ch. 3): How close did Angelos come to owning Baltimore’s NFL team?

The Peter Principles (Ch. 12): Selig vs. Angelos – trust, antitrust and billions of dollars

 

 

“The most important part of the deal is the equity in MASN over the long term. In a few years that equity stake in the network will be worth far more than any rights fee that a Comcast or a Fox SportsNet could pay (the Washington Nationals). So they will in time have a 33 percent stake in MASN without one penny of investment. We pay all production costs, overhead, the staffing and program fees. The new Nationals get all the benefits without the risk. My goal, and I am sure it is the same for the Washington owners, is to have two very successful franchises that work together on a number of projects while being friendly rivals on the field.”

Peter G. Angelos

The Examiner

April 7, 2006

 

 

AS PETER G. ANGELOS WATCHED THE Boston Red Sox win the 2004 World Series, he was still a state of shock that his Major League Baseball partners and commissioner Bud Selig had actually done the unthinkable – placing a rival National League team into Washington, D.C. to compete with the Orioles, forever dividing the marketplace.

Insiders said they’d never seen Angelos so angry, so agitated, so betrayed and hell bent on making them pay for this decision to double cross a partner. Selig had been contrite in their conversations and vowed to somehow find a way to keep Angelos whole on the deal and the burgeoning business of television networks had become the next generation way of getting money from the masses to fund baseball growth. In the 1980s, MLB discovered sponsorships and a higher-end clientele. In the 1990s, MLB discovered leveraging municipalities for new stadia, skyboxes, club seats and premium sponsorships. Now, in the new century, it was going to be television rights and revenues derived from cable purchasers who are bundled into larger all-but-invisible packages where the “regional sports network” would garner a few dollars per month, per subscriber.

This was a way to collect automatic, “unseen” money from virtually every home in their region. They would be getting tens of millions of dollars from folks who wouldn’t even know they were funding Major League Baseball. The Lords would be getting money from people who didn’t even know what baseball was ­– or where to find it on the multi-channel cable dial.

Angelos had already become wise to the reality of the changing media marketplace. He didn’t really understand but it ­– but knew it had tangible and growth value in the future.

It was no accident that the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox had more far revenue to spend on better baseball players, which exponentially aided their ability to win and keep the money machine well oiled with local interest and new-age marketing. The Yes Network was a product of a 1999 merger between the Yankees and New Jersey Nets for the express purpose of marketing a cable television channel in the New York region that would cut out the middleman – the sports cable television networks. The war in New York with Cablevision was legendary and it was big money. In 2001, the New England Sports Network (NESN), which enjoyed a near monopoly status in the region for television sports, went to the basic tier of cable, meaning far greater distribution and more money that would be used to fund the new and improved Boston Red Sox.

The same Red Sox that Angelos just watched win the World Series, who were led in part by Larry Lucchino – the former Orioles president and investor, who was the visionary for the modern franchise and building of Camden Yards, and the first employee whom Angelos unceremoniously partnered with and then ousted a month later in 1993 after his Orioles acquisition from Eli Jacobs in a New York auction.

Angelos knew all of his options, demands and “asks” in regard to what he’d be trying to retain and obtain if Selig and his MLB partners ever crossed the line and did the unthinkable – putting the Expos just 38 miles away in his backyard.

But, make no mistake about it, Angelos would’ve far preferred to have never seen the Washington Nationals born at any cost or any profit.

He abhorred the concept of D.C. baseball.

Washington baseball was truly his worst nightmare as the owner of the Baltimore Orioles. He was absolutely convinced there was no financial way to make him “whole” – and worse, he truly believed that it would drastically affect not only his team, but that the Washington team would fare no better in a market that Angelos and most everyone else remembered as a two-time baseball loser in the 1960s and early 1970s. But a lot had changed since the Senators left for Arlington, Texas in 1971 to become the Rangers.

The Northern Virginia suburbs had grown exponentially over the nearly four decades and the biggest enclave of per capita earnings in the United States fell throughout what Angelos felt was hard-earned Orioles country. Angelos valued the Washington, D.C. community for the same reasons Selig and the other MLB owners did – they smelled the size, money and disposable income. Angelos claimed that 30% of his audience came from those homes and wallets. The Orioles and Major League Baseball were a television brand that his baseball brand had cultivated over 30 years and he and his partners paid top dollar for in 1993.

Angelos felt absolutely deceived, absolutely blindsided by their lack of concern …

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BirdsPic

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 12): Selig vs. Angelos – trust, antitrust and billions of dollars

Posted on 04 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

This is Chapter 12 of the upcoming book, “The Peter Principles.” This lengthy excerpt is a prelude to a WNST report on ten years of MASN money and how Washington baseball has affected Baltimore baseball over the past decade. The first three chapters of the book are available here:

The Peter Principles (Ch. 1): So, just how did Angelos become ‘King’ of Baltimore baseball?

The Peter Principles (Ch. 2): The error of tyranny at Camden Yards

The Peter Principles (Ch. 3): How close did Angelos come to owning Baltimore’s NFL team?

 

 

The Peter Principles

Chapter 12

The Washington Nationals were the greatest thing to ever happen to Peter G. Angelos

 

“We’re going to be watching very carefully to see what’s going to happen with some of the efforts to put a baseball franchise in Washington or in Northern Virginia. And I’m gonna tell ya straight up: we don’t think there should be a baseball franchise in Northern Virginia or in Washington. Because you would have a repetition of what you have in Oakland and San Francisco. In Oakland and San Francisco you have the same kind of population mix that you have between Baltimore and Washington. And those two teams kill each other off. Both of those teams drew, last year, less than two million fans. Together, they drew 3 million fans. But because they’re so close to each other and they’re both part of one metropolitan area – mega metropolitan area – they are literally killing themselves at the gate. We have argued, I think to this point, successfully, that there should not be another Major League Baseball franchise 30 to 40 miles away from Baltimore. It isn’t that we would deny the people that live in those areas the recreational pursuit of baseball. We think baseball is a great game for everybody. But when we look at the experience of Boston, Philadelphia, Oakland, San Francisco – Boston and Philadelphia and St. Louis had two ballclubs. The history of baseball dictates that you can’t put two teams that close together. We are opposing that. We think Orioles baseball is plenty good enough for us as well as the people in the Washington suburbs and we thank them for that support and we want to retain that support.”

Peter G. Angelos

The Barn, March 1997

 

 

WITH THE BIG MONEY SPLURGE OVER the winter, Peter G. Angelos believed he’d solved most of his 2004 problems on the field with the Orioles. But, truly, the team on the field or how it performed in the spring was the least of his big-picture problems with the franchise. Angelos was far more focused on its future viability in Baltimore if his Major League Baseball partners were going to acquiesce to mounting civic pressure from Washington, D.C. and move the fledgling, all-but-homeless Montreal Expos to the capital of the free world to openly compete in a marketplace that had solely been the territory of the Orioles since the early 1970s.

Once again, a decade into his ownership of the Orioles, Angelos found himself knee-deep into circumstances that went far beyond the boundaries of the normal business of simply running a baseball team and trying to win and turn a profit. For the first time in modern baseball history – the last team that moved was the Washington Senators to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 1972 – a MLB team was going to being uprooted and potentially moved directly into the territory of an existing franchise.

While he picked many of battles over years with political figures, media members, Orioles players, agents, partners, insurance companies and big businesses, this was certainly a battle that found Angelos. He was a natural fighter. But this was not a fight he ever wanted.

When Camden Yards was flooded with fans in his early days he always maintained that there was no way two teams could survive and thrive in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. He was always adamant – if not even enthusiastic and animated – in his protests of anything related to Washington having a Major League Baseball team.

Washington baseball was his worst nightmare.

And he saw the clouds were forming very clearly heading into 2004.

Angelos saw where this might be going, and despite his work on an amicable relationship and pro bono efforts during the 2002 labor negotiations on behalf of Major League Basbeall, he still truly believed that commissioner Bug Selig would never cross him and his daily struggle to keep another MLB team out of the nation’s capital. He called Selig “a friend” at one point and indicated his staunch belief that Washington baseball would never happen.

“Washington has a baseball team,” Angelos would say. “They’re called the Orioles.”

You can hear him discuss this topic at length here from March 1997:

If anything had been proven over the years it was that Peter G. Angelos loved a good fight. He was now more than $150 million upside down in his ownership of the Orioles – reports would say at this time that the team was worth $325 million, which would’ve more than cleared up his losses. But, having lost money every year for 10 years and reaching into his personal vast fortune annually to financially support the team was an unnerving reality. But, given his reputation and track record, it was his own doing by chasing away large chunks of revenue streams with a myriad of poor decisions and poor civic form.

Now, as a mostly unpopular figure through both cities’ baseball fan bases, he was bunkering …

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Ovi Habs

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Ovechkin Does it Again in Caps Rout of Habs

Posted on 08 October 2017 by Ed Frankovic

Leave it to Alexander Ovechkin to do something that hasn’t happened in 100 years of National Hockey League action – score a hat trick in each of his first two games of the season.

What is more amazing is that he tallied four times on Saturday night in the Capitals home season opener at Capital One Arena with Evgeny Kuznetsov notching an assist on each marker. The Gr8 now has seven goals in just 125 minutes of hockey and Kuzy has a helper on each one of them.

This tilt became a blowout rather quickly with Ovechkin scoring on an amazing top shelf spin around shot after some great forechecking by Jakub Vrana and Kuznetsov. The snipe by Alex on Carey Price came just 20 seconds into contest. 

Before Montreal knew what had hit them it was 2-0 just 26 seconds later. Washington’s other top line of Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, and T.J Oshie did the damage with the Osh Babe scoring his 1st goal of the year on a rebound of a Backstrom shot after a super steal by Burakovsky on the forecheck.

Things were about to get even worse for the Habs after Ales Hemsky slashed Aaron Ness just 2:02 into this affair. 49 seconds into that man advantage, Kuznetsov made a sweet cross ice feed to the Gr8 in the Ovi spot and Alex lifted one top shelf to make it 3-0 with less than three minutes gone in the game.

With a minute and 50 seconds to go in the opening frame, Washington began putting the lid on Montreal’s coffin on this night. Ness made a nice feed to Kuznetsov just inside the offensive blue line and #92 fired the biscuit at the cage. Ovechkin was parked in front of Price and tipped the disc home to increase the lead to 4-0.

It was a dominant first period by Washington with the Capitals outshooting Montreal, 14-7.

When the Caps went on the power play just over three minutes into the middle frame, it looked like the rout would continue. Washington, however, lollygagged with the puck and after a couple of shorthanded chances for Montreal, Brendan Gallagher finally put the puck by Braden Holtby (38 saves) to close the deficit to three.

For the next 10 minutes, the Habs were all over the Capitals, but there was no denting the Holtbeast. The Caps netminder was stellar while Montreal dominated Washington by winning one puck battle after another. 

Luckily for Coach Barry Trotz, the Ovi-Kuzy duo stopped a long succession of bad Washington shifts with just over three minutes remaining in period two. Kuznetsov carried into the offensive zone on a three on two with Ovechkin and Oshie. Evgeny cut to the middle of the ice drawing the Montreal defensemen to him and he slid the puck to Ovi to his right. The Gr8 took the puck to the cage and his backhander pinballed into the net right before Oshie could get his stick on it at the far post.

That was one of the final nails in the Canadiens coffin with 3:14 to go in the middle stanza and just 79 seconds later, it was shut for good. Jay Beagle won a faceoff directly back to Devante Smith-Pelly and he fired it towards the cage. On the way to the net, it hit Nathan Walker and went past Al Montoya, who had replaced Price after 20 minutes. For Walker, it was his first goal in his first NHL game on an evening when he became the first Australian raised hockey player to make it to “The Show.” Well done, Nathan.

Wow, what a start to the season by Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Holtby! With the departures of several accessory lineup pieces due to the salary cap, the Caps really need their star players to be their star players in 2017-18. So far, the aforementioned trio has more than delivered. The Gr8 and Kuzy have seven points each, with six of those goals coming at even strength, and the Holtbeast is dialed in with a .930 save percentage and two victories. Ovechkin only had 16 even strength markers in all of 2016-17, so he is clearly focused to start this campaign and his new off-season training methods are paying huuuuugggeee dividends.

Other positives so far have been a perfect penalty kill, it’s gone nine for nine primarily thanks to #70. However, an average of four plus penalties per game is not something that Washington wants to get in the habit of doing, so starting Monday night in Tampa, the number of infractions by Capitals players must decrease.

On Saturday, the Caps also dominated from the dot, winning of 41 of 67 draws. Beagle was 11-3, Lars Eller went 12-7, and Kuznetsov was 8-5. It’s a lot easier to generate shots when you start with the puck and that’s what Washington did in period one. After they got the lead though, the Canadiens naturally fought hard to try and get back in the game. They hijacked puck possession in period two, firing 20 shots on goal on the Holtbeast. They would add 12 more in period three and for the night Montreal had a 39-23 edge in shots on goal and an astounding 70-37 advantage in shot attempts. Much of that, however, can be attributed to score effects.

The victory improves the Caps to 2-0, but they still have work to do to clean up things in their game. There are many new faces in the lineup to include Vrana, Walker, Smith-Pelly, Ness, and Graovac (scratched for Walker on Saturday) so this is a work in progress.

The good news is how well the mighty triumvirate of Ovi, Kuzy, and the Holtbeast are playing, and when those guys are on their game, the Caps are hard to beat.

Notes: Ovechkin had 10 of the Caps 37 shot attempts, including eight on goal…Walker played 11:23 and led the team in hits with four…John Carlson logged 23:08 in ice time to lead the Capitals. Coach Trotz was able to spread the minutes around with a big lead. Taylor Chorney played 17:39, which was five minutes more than he logged on Thursday in Ottawa…next up for the Caps are the Lightning in Tampa on Monday night.

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Beags habs

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Holtby Holds the Fort In Caps 3-2 Win Over Montreal

Posted on 04 February 2017 by Ed Frankovic

Heading into Saturday afternoon’s game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre, the Washington Capitals were 31-1-5 in franchise history when Jay Beagle scores a goal and 8-0 this season (thanks Adam Miller).

Just 3:06 into the matinee, #83 sniped one by Carey Price after a sweet feed from Daniel Winnik following a strong play by Tom Wilson in the neutral zone to keep the play onside.

So you know how this one turns out, right? It would be a Caps victory in Quebec.

However, it wasn’t easy.

After Beagle’s tally there was a lengthy delay (about 11 minutes) due to a hole in the bottom of the boards behind Braden Holtby (20 saves). Montreal took advantage of that Super Bowl 47 like stoppage to right their ship and tie the game up at one less than three minutes after play resumed. Nate Schmidt tried an ill advised centering pass on the right wing boards in his own zone and that allowed Alexander Radulov to snipe one to get the Habs back in the game. Schmidt needed to either eat the puck along the boards there until he could get help or reverse the play by putting the disc along the boards behind his own cage.

The Caps would then settle down and they began carrying the play again with lots of offensive zone pressure. Washington’s third line of Lars Eller, Brett Connolly, and Andre Burakovsky was especially good. When the Caps turned the puck over or Montreal took a hold of it, Washington ferociously back checked and reclaimed the biscuit. They did an excellent job in the first two frames of going up and down the ice in five man units and that prevented the very fast Habs squad from turning this game into a track meet.

The two way effort paid off midway through the middle frame. Eller sprung Connolly up the ice on a three on two with Burakovsky and Schmidt. #88 then atoned for his previous mistake by making a very smart play as he crossed the blue line with speed – he kept driving to the net. By doing that he took the Habs defensemen with him and that opened up a passing lane for #10, who laid a sweet cross ice feed to #65 and he snapped it short side, top shelf by Price for a 2-1 lead.

Washington would continue pressing the play in period two and they had several good looks. Alex Ovechkin hit the post and was also denied in tight by #31. Justin Williams had a great shot from the slot, but he didn’t elevate the puck and Price got his pad on it. After 40 minutes, shots on goal were 24-12 for the Caps and 41-26 in terms of shot attempts. In short, they were playing a super road game to that point.

In the third period, they did a good job of keeping Montreal to the outside early in the frame and when Radulov took a hooking penalty on the Gr8, the Caps cashed in on the power play. With the Habs overplaying the pass to Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom alertly chose to fire a shot from the middle of the ice up high and with Price leaning right, the puck eluded him to give Washington a 3-1 lead with 14:44 to go.

Things then got interesting. Montreal really put the pressure on and at 7:49 of period three Max Pacioretty cut the lead to one when they totally outworked the Caps fourth line for a goal. The game would go back and forth with teams trading some chances and when the Caps received a power play with 5:46 to go, they looked to close this one out. However, the Caps made a big offensive zone turnover and Torrey Mitchell received a shorthanded breakaway. As he was about to shoot, the puck bounced on him a bit, so he didn’t get all of the rubber, but the Holtbeast was already in good position and he made a huge stop. Braden would make a few more quality saves down the stretch and the Capitals did a decent job of not allowing the Habs to penetrate the paint until the final horn sounded.

When it was all said and done, the Capitals would head out of the hallowed hockey city with a 3-2 victory to improve to 35-11-6 (76 points) on the season.

This was a game that I was not worried about for Washington from a motivational standpoint. Every NHL player LOVES to play in Montreal. It is a great city and has a lot of hockey history. Simply put, if you can’t get up to play there, you don’t have a pulse.

As I routinely write, when the Caps are motivated, they are hard to beat because of their skill, depth, and goaltending. Montreal gets paid to play, too, and they are fighting for their division title, so the Habs really brought it, especially late. Both Price and Holtby put on net minding clinics and it is easy to see why they are the best two goalies in the NHL.

This was a fun hockey game to watch and Washington benefitted from winning the special teams battle going 1 for 4 with the man advantage and stopping all three Habs power plays.

Both teams could’ve won this affair, although I thought the Caps were the better team for the majority of the tilt, until they earned the two goal lead. They then hung on to win and as the stats dictate, when Beagle scores a goal, it’s pretty much points in the bank for Washington.

Woof!

Notes: The Caps won the shot attempt battle, 51-49. Ovechkin and Beagle each had five shots on net. This was by far #83’s best outing since he went down with a virus just before the all star break. “Flip Phone” Beags seemed to finally have his legs back…John Carlson took his first penalty of the season, but he played solidly and led the Caps in ice time with 24:16…Holtby is now 11-0-0 in his last 13 starts…the Caps won the face off battle, 28-25. All Star Backstrom was 15-4 and Beagle was 9-6…Burakovsky and Beagle now both have 11 goals on the season. #65 and that whole line has been a huge difference maker for Coach Barry Trotz’ club….the Caps will face the Los Angeles Kings at noon on Super Bowl Sunday at the Verizon Center on NBC. LA defeated the Flyers on Saturday, 1-0, in overtime….the Kings are coming in hot, they’ve won five in a row as they make their way to DC. Expect to see Philipp Grubauer between the pipes for the Caps.

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Kuzy Habs

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Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Holtby Lead Caps Over Montreal, 4-1

Posted on 09 January 2017 by Ed Frankovic

“I said, Train kept a rolling, all night long, Train kept a rolling, all night long…”

Alex Ovechkin had a goal and two assists, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the game winner just 54 seconds after Montreal tied the game up, then set up Brent Connolly’s 5th tally of the season to make it a two goal cushion, and Braden Holtby made 22 saves as the Washington Capitals played arguably their best road game of the campaign to knock off the Habs, 4-1, at the Bell Centre.

For the Gr8, he now stands at 999 career points and he has a date with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Wednesday night in an attempt at hitting four digits.

Before that big tilt takes place, however, the Caps can enjoy their flight home from Quebec after taking two games in the Great White North, a 1-0 win over Ottawa on Saturday in which the Holtbeast stole the show, and then Monday night’s dominating victory over a bit depleted Canadiens squad. These two triumphs increase the Capitals current winning streak to six games and they are now 26-9-5 (57 points) overall.

The Habs were without key players Brendan Gallagher, Andrei Markov, Andrew Shaw, and David Desharnais, but Washington was missing its top right winner, T.J. Oshie, who was injured thanks to one clean and one non-clean hit from Dion Phaneuf on Saturday in Canada’s capital city. Oshie did skate on Monday morning, so there’s a chance he could return for the Pens game on Rivalry night on NBC this Wednesday at 8 pm.

The Capitals were skating well in this contest against a speedy Montreal club that makes it very hard to get to the front of the net to disrupt all world goalie, Carey Price. Early on it was a chess match with both teams having good chances, but the Caps got on the board first when Karl Alzner made a strong pinch in the left wing corner and with the Gr8 covering the point, the puck went back to Ovi. Alex fired a hard, low shot on net and with Connolly screening in the high slot, Price (35 saves) could not control the rebound and all star Nicklas Backstrom backhanded the puck home at 11:03 of period one.

This game would then go back and forth for the next 35 plus minutes with Washington having the edge in quality scoring chances. The Caps, however, got into penalty trouble in the final frame and after Lars Eller took a bad neutral zone infraction trying to impede a Montreal rush, Tomas Plekanec scored with just one tick left on the man advantage via a goal mouth scramble. Holtby was contacted slightly by Paul Byron, but even more so by Brooks Orpik, who knocked over the Holtbeast while trying to clear out Byron. Coach Barry Trotz challenged for goalie interference, but the goal stood.

At that point the Bell Centre was hopping and a Caps team that had carried most of the play to that point, was at a critical juncture.

Enter Kuznetsov, who received a pass from Ovechkin in the neutral zone, worked his way strongly around Max Pacioretty to gain the offensive zone, then undressed Jeff Petry with a sweet outside in move, and finally chipped the puck by a stunned Price to give the Capitals a massive answer on the scoreboard after the Habs seemed to have all of the momentum. That goal, with 11:48 remaining, was like a shot of adrenaline to Washington and on Kuzy’s next shift, he took advantage of a Price miscue with the puck by his own net and fed Connolly in the slot to make it 3-1 with nine minutes remaining.

Washington’s penalty kill would thwart the fourth Montreal power play of the night and then #92 drew a hooking infraction on his fellow Russian countryman, Alexander Radulov, with 3:56 to go. At that point the only thing that could get the Habs some life would be a shorthanded tally, but there would be none of that.

Coach Trotz went for the dagger putting out the regular number one power play unit and Backstrom (1 goal, 1 assist) fed Ovi at the top of the left circle and the Gr8 rifled it by Price just 32 seconds into the man advantage. Game over.

Wow, this was some hockey game and it is easy to see why Price and Holtby were two of the three goalies for Team Canada this past fall in the World Cup of Hockey. Holtby, who on Monday was named the NHL’s third star of the week, was outstanding once again. In his last three games he’s allowed just one goal on 82 shots! The Holtbeast is now 7-0-1 lifetime at the hallowed Bell Centre (h/t to Caps beat writer, Mike Vogel).

For the night, the Caps outshot Montreal, 39-23, and deserved this victory. They did a better job of getting bodies in front of Price, unlike the 2-1 loss they suffered to the Habs at the Verizon Center on December 17th where Coach Michel Therien’s club sealed off the front of the net extremely well.

The Caps are now 5-0 in January and Kuznetsov looks like the player who made the NHL All Star team last season. He is moving more into the tougher areas of the ice and Petry was likely fooled so badly because he thought #92 was going to do his usual peel to the wing and look for a pass play. Instead, Evgeny went hard to the net and he’s been doing that, along with shooting the biscuit, more frequently during this winning streak. As a result, the points are piling up for him and the wins are too, for the Caps. This is the Kuznetsov the Capitals will need in the spring if they are going to win the Stanley Cup.

Now he just needs to keep the train rolling…

“I said, Train kept a rolling, all night long, Train kept a rolling, all night long…”

Notes: shot attempts were 68-62 for the Caps…Washington was 1 for 2 on the power play while the Habs went 1 for 4…Matt Niskanen led the Capitals in ice time with 23:06…Coach Trotz spreads his ice time around because of the deep Washington roster, although Liam O’Brien, who made his 2016-17 debut, only played 6:08…Tom Wilson, who was hurt blocking a shot on Saturday, played 10:22 and that allowed Coach Trotz to hold Paul Carey, who had been recalled earlier in the day from Hershey, out of the contest…the Caps lost the face off battle, 31-27…Alzner blocked six shots…Wilson and Connolly each had three hits doing a super job on the forecheck… Connolly took Oshie’s spot on the top line and he played very well…Nate Schmidt played just 13:59, but was outstanding at breaking the puck up the ice with speed on the back end, especially in the first period when the Capitals set the tone.

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Braden Holtby, the NHL's 2nd star of the month for November, starts December off just as hot.

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Holtby Steals a Victory for the Caps at the Bell Centre

Posted on 03 December 2015 by Ed Frankovic

You’ll often hear hockey experts state the following: “goaltending is the great equalizer.”

No truer words could be spoken about Thursday night’s Caps-Habs tilt in Montreal where Braden Holtby was stellar once again making 33 saves to lead Washington to a 3-2 win at the Bell Centre. At the other end of the rink, the Canadiens Mike Condon only stopped 16 of 19 shots and looked tired as the game went on to let his club down in a contest they very much should have won, if not for the Holtbeast.

Montreal was speedy and on the loose pucks all night, while the Capitals looked rusty, sloppy, and downright lazy, at times, in the first two plus periods, especially the middle frame. At one point, the shots on goal were 24-7 for the Habs before a late second period Caps flurry, which included T.J. Oshie’s first goal of the game that Condon misplayed off of his arm and into the cage. Oshie would also get the game winner deflecting home a Karl Alzner point shot with 11:43 remaining. T.J. now has eight goals on the season.

Washington opened the scoring at 2:26 after Holtby made a big early save and the Caps Brooks Laich worked hard on the boards and fed Tom Wilson with the puck in the slot. “Willy” fired it short side with a sweet wrister. Wilson continues to improve and he now has his only two goals this season in the last two games. #43 is doing a super job killing penalties and other parts of the 21 year olds game continue to develop. He is becoming more and more of a factor for Washington and that is very important. He’s a big body that can skate and hit and that is something many teams simply do not have.

Overall though, the Capitals did not play well. They turned the puck over repeatedly and much of that had to do with their positioning and effort. Their gaps between the forwards and the defensemen were too large making the passing lanes longer and tougher to navigate. In addition, they far too often tried diagonal and sometimes blind passes, which is a big no-no coming out of your own zone. Repeatedly, offensive zone shots were passed up for low percentage passes. That was disappointing given that the Caps caught a break facing Condon instead of 2014-15 Hart Trophy winner, Carey Price, who is out for six weeks with a knee injury. The Caps should have been shooting more and even with Oshie’s fluky up in the air and off of the goalies arm tally, Washington still didn’t realize that more pucks to the net were needed.

Overall the shot attempts were 73-43 for Montreal and shots on goal were 35-19. The Habs were far superior in this one in terms of chances and puck possession.

Fortunately Holtby was in the zone again and the only tallies he allowed were a Lars Eller stuff in front right after the Habs power play expired and a shorthanded breakaway goal by Brian Flynn. Max Pacioretty, the Habs captain and best forward, had nine shots on goal, many of them quality, but the Holtbeast had his number on this night.

On the positive side, the Capitals did play a super final seven plus minutes once again with a third period lead. They dominated that final portion and drew a power play with 1:53 remaining. That might have been trouble given that the Habs third period game tying tally came while the Caps were with the man advantage, but Coach Barry Trotz made sure to have two defensemen on the points and Washington outworked the Canadiens along the walls to close this one out. In fact, the only shot on goal Montreal had over the last 6:30 was an 81 footer from Pacioretty with 2:28 remaining. The Caps were like sharks in blood infested waters, they sensed they were on the verge of stealing a win and they did all of the right things down the stretch to close it out.

This was the Capitals sixth straight victory and Holtby’s career high eighth consecutive win. The Caps are now a stunning 18-5-1 and have retaken over first place in the Metropolitan Division. The New York Rangers also have 37 points, but the Caps have three games in hand and one more regulation or overtime win (ROW).

So in this streak, two of the victories have been total Holtby highway robberies, the Edmonton shutout on November 23rd and this one in hallowed Montreal on December 3rd. #70’s numbers over his eight game winning streak are amazing, a 1.88 goals against average and a .936 save percentage (h/t to Ben Raby). Those are some super figures and Holtby is clearly in the upper echelon of NHL goalies.

He won this game tonight and once again his teammates owe him dinner. Perhaps they oblige on Friday night in Winnipeg, where the Caps will take on the Jets on Saturday afternoon in a 3 pm matinee?

Notes: Alex Ovechkin had an assist on the game winning tally and was also on for the second Caps tally. However, he was one of the guilty parties on the Habs shorthanded game tying goal. Ovi only had 1 shot on goal and four overall shot attempts. That is way down for the Gr8…Montreal won the faceoff battle, 32-24. Nicklas Backstrom (1 assist) was 10-10…Matt Niskanen led the Caps in ice time with 25:59. P.K. Subban led the Habs with 26:44…Brooks Orpik missed his 10th straight game with a lower body injury, although he has been skating and is along for this two game Canadian road trip.

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Sloppy Caps Win in Shootout

Posted on 01 April 2012 by Ed Frankovic

With the out of town scoreboard being the Washington Capitals friend on both Friday and Saturday night, the Caps found themselves in a struggle with the Montreal Canadiens, the last place team in the Eastern Conference, in their own building. Dale Hunter’s crew put out a decent effort, but the Caps over passed and shot wide on their chances plus they had several sloppy stretches in Nicklas Backstrom’s return to the lineup for the first time in 40 games. Fortunately for Washington, Michal Neuvirth was very good in net (39 saves, 2-2 in shootout) and Matt Hendricks and Alex Semin made super moves in the gimmick as the Capitals escaped with two points.

It was a huge victory on paper as the Caps moved two points ahead of the Buffalo Sabres, who lost on Friday at home against Pittsburgh and then Saturday in Toronto, with just three games remaining. Because the Capitals hold the tiebreaker over the Sabres (regulation or overtime wins), Washington’s magic number, which is points gained by the Caps or points lost by Buffalo, sits at four. In addition, if the Florida Panthers lose in regulation to the Detroit Red Wings in Hockeytown on Sunday, then the Capitals control their own destiny with respect to the Southeast Division title. The Caps are in Tampa on Monday, come home to face the Panthers on Thursday, before closing out their regualar season at Madison Square Garden on Saturday against the Rangers.

Things are shaping up nicely for the Caps standings wise, but if they want to close the deal, and more importantly, advance in the post season, they have to clean their game up. Washington squandered too many opportunities in this one. Alexander Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson (3 giveaways) played with Backstrom in his return. #19 was very good but his linemates were woefully inconsistent and that prevented them from connecting. Brooks Laich, another guy this team needs going to win regularly, was also sloppy on this night (4 giveaways) and was yet another reason the Capitals couldn’t sustain anything after a very good first 16 minutes or so.

The Caps never sat back in this game, in fact, the two Montreal goals came in transition as Washington was trying to push the pace. Max Pacioretty blew down the left wing late in the first period and when Karl Alzner over committed to help out his defensive partner, Dennis Wideman, Erik Cole was all alone in front and scored. The Habs second goal came when Thomas Plekenac just abused Roman Hamrlik one on one and then fired a sweet shot upstairs to beat Neuvirth (39 saves).

In overtime, the Capitals struggled once again on four and four because they couldn’t keep up with Monreal’s speed. That was disappointing given that the Habs played the night before in New York and should have been the tired club. The Caps are fortunate their goalie was on his game on this night and Neuvirth certainly showed that he can be the guy the way he played on Saturday. Last year #30 was very instrumental in Washington winning the Eastern Conference in the regular season and with Tomas Vokoun’s creaky groin, Neuvy needs to step up again for the Caps to win the division/make the post season.

At the end of the night, despite the fancy play that led to too many turnovers, the Caps come out on top and they are in a nice position to make the post season after things looked troublesome following the blowout loss to Buffalo on Tuesday. There are still three games to go and Washington must play better if they want to close things out and avoid an early trip to the golf course. The Southeast Divison will be likely there for the taking after Sunday’s slate is complete, but the Caps will need to win all three remaining games to pull that off and they won’t get that done if they perform like they did against Montreal.

Notes: Overall shot attempts were 68-68 but the Habs did a better job of getting theirs on goal…Mathieu Perreault scored the first Caps goal off of a nice feed from Semin and Jay Beagle scored the second after a sweet pass from Hendricks…those four players had good games but #85 only had 10:05 of ice time…Washington won the faceoff battle 38-28 with Backstrom going 12-6…Mike Green had 24:24 of ice time to lead the Caps…both teams did not score on the power play. The Caps had five chances to the Habs four. Washington must start connecting with the man advantage if they want to do post season damage.

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The Capitals get a big 3-0 win over Montreal by playing solid defensive hockey.

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Lots of Positives in Caps Win

Posted on 04 February 2012 by Ed Frankovic

The Montreal Canadiens are not a good hockey team but just 10 days ago they destroyed the league leading Detroit Red Wings, 7-2, at the Bell Centre. In Montreal on Saturday the Washington Capitals did what they had to do and knocked off a reeling, but dangerous, Habs team, 3-0, behind 29 fairly ordinary saves from Tomas Vokoun. It was a game that the Caps had to win given where they are in the standings (9th place in the East heading into the game and three points out of first in the Southeast Division) and despite the fact that it wasn’t very pretty hockey coach Dale Hunter’s crew secured two points.

There were lots of positives in this game. Brooks Laich continued his solid and consistent play and had two assists while Alexander Semin turned in a super third period assisting on Matt Hendricks goal that made it 2-0 before putting this one away on a penalty shot with 8:03 to go. #28 skated in on Peter Budaj (20 saves) and fired a slapper that went top shelf under the cross bar. Not many players have the skill to pull that move off but Semin’s talent level has never been questioned. It is pretty clear that Semin elevates his game when his close friend Alexander Ovechkin is in the lineup (back today after sitting out three games due to suspension) and he did it again in Montreal. The Gr8, after not playing in 13 days, was visibly rusty but just his presence in the game seemed to energize his teammates.

The Caps were outshot in this tilt, primarily because of a poor second period, but that didn’t matter today because the chances Montreal received were not grade A quality scoring opportunities. Washington put in a strong defensive zone effort and kept the Canadiens to the outside and away from prime positions on the ice. Outside of perhaps Tomas Plekenac’s late shorthanded semi-breakaway, I am not sure the Habs had a clear odd man rush the entire game. Achieving that is exactly what Hunter’s style of play is designed to accomplish and as a result Vokoun faced some rubber but not a lot of ones where Montreal had a really good chance to score.

In my opinion, the biggest positive on Saturday was the play of 22 year old John Carlson on defense. I thought this was by far his best game in weeks and he played magnificently. Part of that was because he was paired back up with Karl Alzner again, but #74 looked confident on the ice and he actually bailed out King Karl big time with the game 1-0 in the second period. After #27 made a bad pass up the middle of the ice, Carlson came flying out from behind the net and went down and blocked the shot. It was impressive stuff and it was the right time to leave your feet on defense, something you don’t normally want to do. Outside of that gaffe, Alzner was fabulous himself. He made play after play in his own end and the one time he had to leave his feet he also blocked perhaps Montreal’s best scoring chance of the day. Numbers 27 and 74 were outstanding on Saturday and their respective ice times of 22:01 and 22:30 were the highest on the team. The Caps certainly hope that Carlson builds off of this excellent performance because they need him playing well with Mike Green still out due to surgery.

On the down side, the power play was still terrible. In 4:31 of man advantage time the Capitals had just ONE shot on goal. Washington had trouble getting set up in the offensive zone and even when they finally did there was too much overhandling of the puck. Assistant Coach Dean Evason has to get these players to simplify once they get in scoring position and shoot the puck. With Green and Nicklas Backstrom out injured there is no doubt that two of Washington’s best puck handlers on the power play are missing but this unit still should be better. At a critical point in the game today in period two the Caps had a penalty shot stopped (Troy Brouwer) and they followed that up with a pitiful power play. A better opponent might have taken advantage of the Capitals missed opportunities but on Saturday the Caps were fortunate to be playing a falling apart Montreal club.

At the end of the afternoon, though, the good far outweighed the bad and Washington improved to 27-20-4 (58 points). The Caps need to get points right now and hope that Green, who skated four days in a row this week and appears to be on or perhaps even ahead of schedule on his surgery recovery, and Backstrom are back in the lineup at some point. The news on #52 was very good this week and they have a chance to go 2-1-1 in the four games since last Sunday’s all star game if they can find a way to defeat the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins on Sunday at 12:30 at the Verizon Center (on NBC).

Notes: Dennis Wideman scored the Caps first goal on a fluky, dipping slap shot after Laich won the offensive zone face-off…Roman Hamrlik went +2 and was significantly better than he had been in the two games in Florida…Jeff Schultz recieved 13:53 of ice time, the most he’s had in a game since December 5th…John Erskine and Jay Beagle were the scratches while enforcer Joel Rechlicz cleared waivers and was sent to Hershey…the Caps only took one penalty, a poor one by Mike Knuble, and they killed that one fairly easily against the worst home power play in the NHL…Washington lost the face-off battle, 29-24…Alzner and Carlson did get stuck on the ice for a 2:28 shift at the end of period two because the Caps forwards kept failing to get the puck deep. Part of Washington’s struggles in the middle frame were due to that and as a result the d-men can’t get off the ice with the long change…Budaj got the nod in goal for the Habs since Carey Price is playing on Sunday against Winnipeg.

 

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Free The Birds

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Less than 2,000 “real fans” attend Orioles game last night

Posted on 18 May 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

The Orioles announced the crowd at 9,299, which is almost laughable if you were a witness to the scene of about 1,500 who actually came down to Oriole Park at Camden Yards last night to observe the two worst teams in Major League Baseball.

Thankfully, a picture taken during the 2nd inning at 7:20 p.m. EST is worth a thousand words so here you go:

Free The Birds

Somewhere, Claude Brochu and the folks with Montreal Expos swag in Quebec don’t feel so lonely anymore.

The Orioles have truly become the embodiment of the Montreal Expos.

We literally had more Free The Birds people back in September 2006 than there were “real Orioles fans” last night in ballpark. For the record, I’d estimate the Free The Birds crowd last night at about 75 throughout the evening at Phillips Harborplace.

It was alarming for many of the folks who don’t come downtown very often to see how desolate and deserted the downtown streets are before and after the games.

There is no traffic. There are no street vendors. There are no traffic cops. It’s like there’s no game being played at all.

Here’s a video of my evening at Camden Yards last night:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4120mYH0vY[/youtube]

Over the last six years, since I moved downtown, I have often referred to it as a civic tragedy.

And, while the stadium and the city are empty, Peter G. Angelos and his ownership group are getting the last laugh. They’re putting tens of millions of dollars into their pockets, gutting the payroll, shedding expenses and the team is 12-27 on the field and continuing to lie, cheat attendance numbers and use their television network and media intimidation tactics as tools to feed Baltimore propaganda about the “bright future” of the organization.

So, in an effort to be brief today, I want to pose one question: What happens now?

The Orioles have been home for more than a week and still haven’t legitimately drawn 75,000 downtown – or roughly the number that one Ravens home game will draw in September.

The downtown business community refuses to speak out. The Mayor is nowhere to be found on this issue. None of the local business leaders will say a word.

Am I the ONLY person in Baltimore who thinks that the disgrace that this franchise has become should be a civic “talking point” circa 2010?

And what’s left of the once-rabid fan base is left scratching their heads every night wondering why they still care about a baseball team that has time and time again displayed that they really don’t have any regard for their customers – going as far as to punish them for a convenience fee when they actually walk up to the ballpark on a wet, cold night and want to buy a ticket to watch this garbage.

The saddest part for me is seeing the helplessness that most old-school fans have felt during this destruction of the Orioles franchise and a full civic center on summer nights, a deterioration of the local economy that goes far beyond downtown and the Inner Harbor.
I’ve opined for years on the topic. I attempted to put together a credible voice last night.

Clearly, much like the Orioles on the field, I failed miserably with Free The Birds 2010.

I hate admitting that Drew Forrester was right. But I learned my lesson last night.

No one cares about the Orioles.

It’s really “over” — this love affair between Baltimore and the Orioles.

It’s eerily similar to the situation with the Colts circa 1981. The team was awful. The owner was awful. The experience of rooting for the team was awful. The way everyone got treated was bush league.

And, ultimately, Baltimore sports fans aren’t THAT dumb – they showed their displeasure by staying away. It cost Bob Irsay money and he left for Indianapolis in March 1984.

But this is an altogether different situation. Angelos, via his sweetheart deal with MASN and MLB, is printing money that only he gets to see. Any person with a calculator can add up the profits and see that he easily made $40 million in profit last year while the team won 64 games.

Hell, having more fans at the ballpark would almost be an inconvenience at this point, a nuisance that really isn’t making him anymore money.

So, what happens now?

What will become of the Orioles?

Will anyone else ever speak out the way I have?

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Another Big Game 7 for Caps

Posted on 27 April 2010 by Ed Frankovic

Whether you are a new or old Washington Capitals fan, you have learned one thing: winning playoff series is rarely an easy thing for the Caps to accomplish. This season is no exception as Washington will take on Montreal in game seven on Wednesday night at 7pm at the Verizon Center after they were seemingly in control of the series, up 3-1, after four games. The Caps all time record in game sevens, coming into this tilt, stands at 2-6. It was 1-5 going into last year’s playoffs before they defeated the Rangers in the first round and then lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. I have attended all of the past game sevens and it is hard to say which one was the worst. Anyways, if you want to read about those first six game sevens in team history you can click here for my blog about them from last spring.

The good news is that history does not matter at all. Each hockey game is an independent event and any perceived momentum coming into the game seven can, and often does, go right out the window once the puck drops. The Alexander Ovechkin led Caps team will play their fourth straight game seven in four playoffs series and in each of the past three they definitely had momentum on their side going into the final tilt. Washington’s record in those three game sevens is 1-2. This year there is no doubt that Montreal has the momentum, primarily because of the play of goalie Jaroslav Halak (allowed two goals in last two games). But Wednesday’s game is a new chapter and with that here are my thoughts and keys to the game for the Caps, in no particular order:

Start Fast:  The Caps need to have a good first period or at least be tied after the first stanza. Montreal has an 8-3 edge on the scoreboard in period one through the first six contests and a big part of that has been the lackluster effort from Washington to open these games. Three times in this series (games two, five, and six) the Habs have tallied twice in the first 10 minutes, that must cease on Wednesday for Washington to be victorious. The Canadiens, once ahead, fall back into their counter-attacking trap which has, for the most part, worked because of the way their goalie is playing. In addition, the team that has scored the first goal has won five of the six contests (game two was the lone exception).

Crowd Support:  The Verizon Center crowd needs to help their team out. If you watched game six, and according to Comcast a lot of people did because it set ratings records for Caps hockey viewing, you heard the raucous Montreal crowd and as Halak made save after save in the early going it seemed to get even louder and fuel their hockey team. The 18,000 plus fans who will “Rock the Red” on Wednesday night in DC need to get behind their club and stay supportive and loud.

Limit Penalties:  Washington needs to stay out of the box. The Caps have taken some bad penalties this series and Montreal has a power play goal in all but one contest (game five was the exception). Mike Cammalleri (five goals in the playoffs) has had a super year against Washington, especially on the power play when he gets time and space to get his shot off. If the Caps can take three or fewer minors on Wednesday that bodes well for them.

Crank up the Power Play:  The Caps will get power play opportunities in this one, they have averaged five a game so far in the series but they are a putrid 1 for 30. Personally, I hope Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau makes some changes to the first unit, and my preference is to bump Alexander Semin from that crew. I would prefer that Ovechkin be moved down low to create traffic and havoc in front of Halak. I would put either John Carlson or Joe Corvo on the points on the top unit with Mike Green and have them focus on getting shots through or dumping the puck down low where the Caps can cycle the two Habs defenders and wear them out. The power play needs to rid itself of the standing around and overpassing we’ve seen in the first six games.

Quality Goaltending:  Whether Boudreau goes with Semyon Varlamov or Jose Theodore as his starter does not matter. Either guy is capable of getting the job done and whichever one gets the call must find a way to cover any defensive mistakes. Halak is doing that for his squad and now it is the Caps turn to have the superior goalie. After all, Halak is due for a subpar performance.

Better Defense: With Tom Poti out for game seven, plus the second round if there is one due to a fractured orbital bone, defenseman Karl Alzner was recalled from Hershey for game seven. I like this move because #27 matches up better than Tyler Sloan or John Erskine does with the small and fast Montreal forwards. The Caps have done a poor job of thwarting the Montreal attack from their defensive blue line to the top of the circles in their own end. Simply put, the d-men have been backing up way too much and giving the Habs forwards time and space to create shooting opportunities, many of which have been with traffic in front of Washington’s goalies. I’d like to see the Caps blue liners challenge the smaller forwards and make them give up the puck sooner. Cammalleri, Tomas Plekenac, Scott Gomez, and company have had too much leeway to operate in Washington’s zone. Shaone Morrisonn, who returned from injury on Monday, was at least a step slow in game six so he needs to rebound with a big performance, if he is healthy. If he is banged up then Sloan needs to play.

Crash the Net:  If you take a look at the shot chart from game six, a lot of the 54 shots taken by Washington were from the blue line and the perimeter. The Caps need to fight harder to go to the slot and the front of the cage for chances and rebounds. Eric Fehr has two goals in this series that way, as does Ovechkin. Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich, Boyd Gordon, and hopefully an insertion of Scott Walker into the lineup all need to pay the price and find a way to score some ugly goals on Halak. So far in this matchup, if Halak sees the shot he has pretty much stopped it.

Dump Puck and Cycle:  When the Caps have thrown the puck down low they have been able to generate chances from cycling the Montreal defense. For the most part, the Caps are bigger than Montreal (Hal Gill is the exception) and they should use their size to generate offense from below the goal line. Rookie d-man PK Subban played well for the Habs at home on Monday but at the Verizon Center the Caps need to hit him early and often to rattle him into making turnovers. Same thing goes for Roman Hamrlik and the other Canadiens d-men. Washington cannot afford to turn the puck over at the blue line, they need to dump it deep, hit the Habs, and get their powerful cycle game going.

In summary, the Caps need to bring emotion, discipline, and play a simple game on Wednesday night if they want to advance to play Philadelphia in the second round. Clearly the pressure is on, and if they don’t perform well and lose, it will be one long off-season with a lot of fingers pointed at several different people. But the Caps must avoid thinking about those types of things and focus on each individual shift in game seven. If they stay in the moment, listen to their coach, and give maximum effort, they will win and all of that stuff that the media likes to talk about goes away. Bottom line, keeping it simple in game seven leads to a higher probability of victory.

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