England rue dropped catch as NZ reach 211-2 in second test

first_imgWELLINGTON (Reuters) – England wasted a golden opportunity to force a result in the second test against New Zealand as Joe Denly dropped the simplest of catches from Kane Williamson before the hosts reached 211-2 at lunch on the fifth day at Seddon Park. New Zealand, who lead the two-match series 1-0, had established a second innings lead of 110 runs in Hamilton yesterday with Williamson on 96 while Ross Taylor was on 84 in an unbeaten 183-run partnership.Taylor became just the second New Zealand player to surpass 7,000 test runs when he pushed a Joe Root delivery into the leg side for a single to reach 83 just before the lunch break. Stephen Fleming scored 7,172 runs.Denly’s spilled chance of Williamson, however, was the key moment in the first session yesterday that could have given England a chance of bowling the hosts out with a small lead. New Zealand captain Williamson had advanced to 62 when he was fooled by a slower delivery from Jofra Archer and through his shot early with the ball looping to Denly at short mid-wicket.Such was the confidence that Denly would snaffle the chance and open up New Zealand’s middle order at 154-3, Archer was halfway down the pitch celebrating while several fielders raised their arms in jubilation.Their excitement, however, quickly turned to shocked disbelief as Denly dropped the ball, while Archer could only bury his face in his hands and burst into laughter. Williamson was also dropped earlier by wicketkeeper Ollie Pope while on 39.New Zealand had resumed their second innings yesterday on 96-2, just five runs behind England’s 476 that had been anchored by a majestic 226 from captain Root to break a personal slump in form.Root also shared in a 177-run partnership with Rory Burns (101) on Sunday and 193 with Ollie Pope (75). New Zealand won the first match at Bay Oval in Mt. Maunganui by an innings and 65 runs.last_img read more

Premier League clubs to meet after Arsenal manager Arteta tests positive

first_imgLONDON (Reuters) – Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the coronavirus, the club said yesterday, prompting the Premier League to announce an emergency meeting today. Arsenal’s first-team squad are set to self-isolate as a result of Arteta’s status and the club’s Hale End training centre has been temporarily closed.Brighton & Hove Albion, who were scheduled to play Arsenal tomorrow, announced that the match had been postponed. The Premier League had issued a statement earlier yesterday saying that “all Premier League matches will go ahead as scheduled this weekend” but they are facing pressure to suspend the season.“Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines. We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff,” Arsenal said in a statement. The Arsenal announcement came after Spanish club Real Madrid said yesterday that their team were in quarantine after one of the club’s basketball players tested positive. Players and staff of Italian champions Juventus are also in quarantine after defender Daniele Rugani tested positive on Wednesday.Arsenal said they expected those who did not have close contact with their Spanish manager to return to work in the coming days and that their training centres would undergo a deep clean.“Mikel and the full first-team squad, players and staff, will be fully supported, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows. Obviously Mikel’s full recovery is the priority now for us all,” said the club’s head of football Raul Sanllehi. “It is clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates.” Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers, who has three players in self-isolation after showing symptoms of the virus, said the season should be now stopped.“There is absolutely no doubt, from a logical perspective. There’s the public health and ethical side as well,” he said.“Players could be going into games and they could be unclear if opposition players are infected. You think of how it all connects with the throw-ins. Ultimately there should be no risks taken in the public’s health which is key,” Rodgers added. Arteta, 37, who joined Arsenal in December after working as assistant coach to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, said he had felt ill prior to taking the test.“This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly. I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed,” he said.Arsenal’s Premier League game at Manchester City scheduled for Wednesday was postponed after the owner of Greek club Olympiakos, who the Gunners played in the Europa League, had contracted the virus. Arsenal said a number of their players had met Evangelos Marinakis after the game on Feb. 27.last_img read more

Term limits to be addressed soon in Wehby report: Skerritt

first_imgPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Cricket West Indies chief, Ricky Skerritt, has assured the region that presidential term limits are still on the cards and will be addressed once the Wehby Governance report is submitted within the next month. Skerritt, who assumed the top CWI post exactly a year ago along with vice-president, Dr Kishore Shallow, had proposed a six-year term limit on the presidency as part of their recommendation for governance reform.And the CWI president said he expected that issue to be dealt with shortly when Jamaican businessman Don Wehby completed his report.“You will be hearing hopefully in another month or so of the Wehby Governance report,” Skerritt told CNC3’s The Morning Shot programme. “There have been many governance reports in the past but this one being led by Don Wehby and four other wise colleagues of his, should be coming forward to Cricket West Indies, at least in its first part, within the next month. “By the time that makes its rounds and gets accepted either in whole or in part, we will have an element in there that speaks to term limits.”Wehby was last April named to lead a Task Force on Corporate Governance Reform, charged with the responsibility of examining the CWI structure in order “to achieve greater transparency and accountability to shareholders” in the regional governing body. The task force includes University of West Indies vice-chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Charles Wilkin QC of St. Kitts and Nevis, Jamaican businessman OK Melhado and former West Indies vice-captain, Deryck Murray.Skerritt and Shallow have contended that term limits to the presidency removed “uncertainty and anxiety caused by the cricket politics and excesses that too often surround the office of president”.The area of governance is the latest to be tackled by the new administration following a year which saw an overhaul of the selection process and a change of men’s white ball captain and management team. Skerritt, a former St Kitts and Nevis cabinet minister, said his administration were focussed squarely on continuing to implement its agenda over the next several months.“We’re very focussed, very committed to making progress on all fronts, trying everything we could to bring improvement in the way we do business,” he stressed.“We’re trying to make it a more productive and efficient organisation and trying to get some financial sustainability, and trying to get enthusiasm and optimism up in the stakeholder groups and especially the players.” While the Skerritt administration has come under fire for several of its decisions, he said he was still enjoying the role as president.“I always enjoy cricket. I enjoy doing whatever I can and whatever I can to bring support and resources to cricket,” he pointed out.“Cricket has been my life as a hobby and now in a very responsible position as chairman. The stress has been there but we’ve managed it fairly well.”last_img read more

bettingexpert and bet365 go live with in-play tipping app

first_img bettingexpert.com, the world’s biggest social network for sports betting, has partnered with bet365 to launch bettingexpert LIVE, the first ever in-play tipping app. Punters will be able to discover the best in-play tips using the new app, before easily placing bets through an innovative integration with leading bookmaker bet365.The app draws on the vast range of bet365’s in-play markets and events across the big European football leagues, updating match data and odds every second through this key partnership, and will provide a significant betting tool for punters ahead of Euro 2016.Using the app, users can follow and analyse the real-time tips of expert tipsters as well as the opinions of thousands of users from the bettingexpert.com community. They’ll be able to review their own performance over time and adapt their in-play betting strategies.There are also cash prizes to be won every week for the best tipsters in the bettingexpert LIVE community.Jesper Søgaard, CEO at bettingexpert.com, commented: “bettingexpert.com is already making ante-post betting more transparent for hundreds of thousands of sports fans. Now, we’re going to revolutionise the world of in-play betting too with bettingexpert LIVE, the first ever in-play tipping app.”James Woods, Head of Performance Marketing at bet365, stated: “This is a fantastic new addition to the customer offering from bettingexpert.com, and we have high expectations for the partnership. By providing the opportunity to bet directly with bet365 from the bettingexpert LIVE app, punters will have an even more enjoyable betting experience.”bettingexpert.com is the leading online tool for betting, bringing together the opinions of 350,000 users worldwide, generating in excess of 125,000 tips per month and 650,000 successful tips per year.bettingexpert LIVE, the world’s first in-play tipping app, is now available in the iTunes app store, and it provides the following:TOP TIPSTERS – access to the real-time tips of professional tipsters for freeLIVE-BETTING MADE SOCIAL – discover and analyse thousands of opinions from the bettingexpert LIVE communityBET IN SECONDS – once a punter finds a tip they like, it only takes a couple of simple taps of the screen to place a bet through the innovative bet365 integrationNEVER MISS A TIP – receive notifications when top tipsters post tips, when goals are scored and when favourite teams are about to start playing a matchWIN CASH PRIZES FOR TIPPING – every week there are cash prizes available to be won by the best tipsters within the bettingexpert LIVE communitySYNC WITH BETTINGEXPERT.COM – bring all your tipping needs together by logging in with a bettingexpert.com account Oddschecker: ‘Unusual circumstances’ fail to hinder Royal Ascot traffic July 23, 2020 Submit Share Better Collective cautious on quick recovery as COVID drags growth momentum August 25, 2020 Playtech goes live in the US with bet365 August 7, 2020 Share Related Articles StumbleUponlast_img read more

Sky Betting and Gaming unveils internal promotions

first_imgShare Share Submit StumbleUpon Related Articles PokerStars moves to refresh global appeal with ‘I’M IN’ August 18, 2020 EFL urges government to rethink gambling sponsorship ban July 3, 2020 William Hill closes Stockholm Gametek office July 1, 2020 Leeds-based independent online gambling company, Sky Betting & Gaming (SB&G), have announced a number of significant internal promotions across all major divisions:Sarah Merrick has been promoted to Director of Gaming Trading PerformanceSteve Birch has been promoted to Commercial Director, Sky BetPaul McCormick is promoted to Director of Sports Betting TechnologyLee O’Donnell is promoted to Director of IT Infrastructure & SecurityRob Tuley will move into a new role of Head of Engineering in the Gaming TribeThese core appointments strengthen the company’s leadership at a time of continued revenue and headcount growth. They follow the recent announcements of a £2.5m investment in 40 early career programmes for graduates and the news they will be taking more space in the heart of Leeds at Wellington Place.Rob Painter, Sky Betting & Gaming’s Brand and HR Director, said: “These promotions are thoroughly deserved and represent the latest stage in Sky Betting & Gaming’s development as an independent company. It is particularly pleasing to see people build their careers here and I hope this news will really motivate the many new members of the team that we are taking on.”Since March 2015 Sky Betting & Gaming have hired around 400 people and recently launched a software academy and a commercial academy. They also have around 150 vacancies still to fill which can be viewed at http://skybetcareers.com/.last_img read more

Major merger off after William Hill refuses to play ball with 888 and Rank

first_img Submit Share StumbleUpon Related Articles Share SBC Magazine Issue 10: Kaizen Gaming rebrand and focus for William Hill CEO August 25, 2020 William Hill accelerates transformation agenda to overcome COVID realities August 5, 2020 Gamesys tops list for GambleAware Q1 donations July 10, 2020 Henry Birch888 Holdings Plc and The Rank Group Plc are withdrawing their proposal for a three way merger with William Hill, citing an inability to ‘meaningfully engage’ with the bookmaker’s board on the issue.888 CEO Itai Frieberger said: “We are disappointed that the board of William Hill did not share our vision of the combined businesses. We believe that there was compelling industrial logic for the combination of these highly complementary businesses, which in our view would have brought scale, diversification, and strong revenue and cost synergies, from which all shareholders would have benefitted.”Rank CEO Henry Birch added: “We strongly believe that the transaction would have created significant value for all three sets of shareholders. We and 888 are grateful for the shareholder support we have received throughout this process.”Rank and 888 argues that the transaction would have created a transformational force in the global betting and gaming industry and the UK’s largest multi-channel gambling operator by revenue and profit and was expected to have unlocked substantial cost and revenue synergies.William Hill, who had previously tried to buy 888, was not impressed with the original or the follow-up approach that upped the bid from 364 pence to 394 pence.A statement from the two firms said: “888 and Rank respect the William Hill board’s position and, as such, after careful consideration each now confirms that they have withdrawn their interest and that they do not intend to make an offer for William Hill.“Rank and 888 remain committed to enhancing returns to their shareholders through their respective focused strategic plans.”Despite their enthusiasm to work together to land William Hill, it is doubtful that 888 and Rank will pursue a smaller merger with each other as the two firms saw the bookmaker as the catalyst to make the combination work.last_img read more

NFL Draft Prospect Watch (Part I)

first_imgJamar Taylor (CB Boise State)Height: 5-11Weight: 1922012-13 Stats: 51 Tackles, 2.5 Sacks, 4 Interceptions, 3 Forced FumblesProjected Round: 3-4Taylor was an All Mountain West first teamer in 2012 for Boise State. He is physical corner, who excelled in press coverage in college. Taylor is a versatile defensive back, which can be used in many different situations including: man to man and zone coverages, setting the edge on run plays, and blitzing from the corner.The major question is Taylor’s closing speed against some of the faster NFL wide outs. Though he may have answered many of his critics, running a 4.39 40 Yard Dash at the NFL combine.During an interview with Glenn Clark, Taylor said he used to play on “grass, and dirt, and rocks,” growing up. He also said that even though he grew up in laid back San Diego, he has a “get work done” attitude (Listen to the entire interview at http://bit.ly/XLToSb).Interesting Fact: Jamar Taylor was the strongest cornerback at the NFL Combine, with 22 bench reps at 225.Player Comparison: Vontae Davis (CB Indianapolis) Nico Johnson (LB Alabama)Height: 6-2Weight: 2462012-13 Stats: 54 Tackles 2 Forced FumblesProjected Round: 4-6Though he only started 5 games his senior year, Johnson still made a major impact for Alabama. His best game was against one of his toughest opponents, LSU, registering 12 tackles. Johnson is a natural 3-4 Inside Linebacker, playing in Nick Saban’s pro style defense.He was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team in 2009, while being a cornerstone for three National Title Teams. Even though he does not have blazing speed or athleticism, he makes up for it with a “lunch pail” attitude for the game.Johnson told Thyrl Nelson and Damon Yaffe that playing at Alabama, he still had to push for playing time on such a talented roster. He was considering entering the military, until being offered a scholarship by Nick Saban and emphasizing get a good education (Listen to the entire interview at http://bit.ly/15lct35).Interesting Fact: Nico Johnson played in every game for Alabama while a member of the Crimson Tide.Player Comparison: Jameel McClain (LB Baltimore Ravens) As the NFL Draft approaches (April 25-27), the Ravens will examining many prospects on their big board.  The important thing is not only to find players that fit the scheme but also where they will be available.  The Draft is about value meeting needs, and here is a look at some of the value players that the Ravens may consider.Bennie Logan (DT LSU)Height: 6-3Weight: 2952012-13 Stats: 45 Tackles, 2 sacksDraft Projection: Rounds 2-4Logan had a somewhat disappointing year at LSU with lower Statistics than expected, playing around a defense full of high draft pick talent. Though they do not tell the whole story of Logan, who can eat up a lot of space.In the thrashing during the 2011 National Championship Game against Alabama, Logan was one of the few LSU players to have a good game, notching 6.5 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He has the potential to be a force along the defensive line, which could several different roles as a 4-3 DT or 3-4 DE.After speaking with Thyrl Nelson, Logan said during the NFL Combine, he had a tweaked Hamstring and will improve upon his numbers at his Pro Day. He feels he several different positions along the defensive line, no matter the scheme (Listen to the entire interview at http://bit.ly/12gZMZ9).Interesting Fact: According to NFL.com, over the past decade, Logan’s number 18 has been awarded by the LSU coaching staff to the player who best represents what it means “to be a Tiger on and off the field.”Player Comparison: Cory Redding (DL Indianapolis Colts) Kiko Alonso (LB Oregon)Height: 6-4Weight: 2462012-13 Stats: 81 Tackles, 4 Interceptions, 2 Forced FumblesProjected Round: 3-5Alonso was a very productive player for Oregon, when he was on the field. His draft stock has taken a hit for issues off the field. He was suspended for the entire 2010 season for a DUI arrest, while also being suspended 2011 for 1 game due to an arrest. Alonso reportedly, broke into someone’s apartment and passed out due to intoxication.He played in a hybrid 3-4 scheme, at the MIKE (Middle Linebacker) but also would fit in as a 4-3 SAM (Strong-side Linebacker). If it weren’t for his track record, Alonso could have gone as early as the beginning of the second round.He told Glenn Clark that playing for Oregon prepared him to enter the NFL, because of the strive for excellence and “they are all about football.” Alonso said he met with the Ravens during the Combine, and it “would be an honor to play for that great defense (Listen to the entire interview at  http://bit.ly/XLDMyb). ”Interesting Fact: Alonso won the 2011 Rose Bowl Defensive Player of the Game against Wisconsin, with 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks and an interception.Player Comparison: Rey Maualuga (LB Cincinnati Bengals) Kenny Tate (OLB/S Maryland)Height: 6-4Weight: 2302012-13 Stats: 42 Tackles, 4 SacksProjected Round: 5-7Tate was highly recruited as a top rated Wide Receiver, before converting to defense his freshman year. He spent most of his time at College Park as a Free Safety but switched to the SAM (Strong-side Linebacker) as a senior. His athleticism is evident in his versatility at several different positions, even though he had a knee injury, which forced him to sit out most of the 2011 season.Tate played admirably his senior year at an unfamiliar position, where he had little experience. Teams will have to decide whether to continue to develop him in the box or utilize athleticism as a Safety. At defensive back, he would be a physical presence whereas at Linebacker, his speed would be an asset but would need to put on more bulk.He told Glenn Clark, that he is “going in as Safety” and “has cut some weight.” Tate believes it would easier to move down to Linebacker than move backwards into the defensive backfield (Listen to the entire interview at http://bit.ly/13rjgcS).Interesting Fact: When starting all 13 games in 2010 at Free Safety, Tate led Maryland with 100 tackles, while also having 3.5 Sacks, 4 Forced Fumbles and 3 Interceptions.Player Comparison: Madieu Williams (S Washington Redskins)* All Photos Courtesy of NFL.com.*last_img read more

Ravens’ pass rush faces tall order in slowing Rodgers

first_img(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens know an enormous challenge awaits when they welcome Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in his first trip to Baltimore as a starter.They’re well aware of the accuracy, the strong arm, the quick release, and the ability to extend plays to find a talented group of pass catchers. But unlike other top quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady the Ravens meet regularly, Rodgers is a signal caller the Ravens have mostly watched from afar aside from a 2009 loss at Lambeau Field in which he threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-14 final.On paper, Rodgers doesn’t scare you with his legs as he’s rushed for just 42 yards in four games, but his ability to extend plays reminds the Ravens of Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and it creates a unique challenge for a pass rush with 19 sacks this season, ranking second in the league behind Kansas City. The key is getting to Rodgers — or at least making him uncomfortable — while keeping him in the pocket to prevent a talented trio of wide receivers from breaking off routes and losing defensive backs in coverage like they can when he’s allowed to escape.“He’s great on the move. He can move to run, but he really moves to throw,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Those guys do a great job of uncovering downfield. They push off. They do all the different tricks of the trade to get open downfield, and they do a good job with it.”Discipline must accompany the pressure that’s often wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks this season as the free-agent additions of linebacker Elvis Dumervil and defensive end Chris Canty coupled with the renaissance of 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs have often masked a vulnerable secondary in a pass defense that ranks 16th in the league. As was the case last Sunday in Miami when Ryan Tannehill completed five passes of 20 or more yards in the Ravens’ 26-23 win, the secondary has too often given up the big play, which doesn’t bode well against Rodgers and the league’s fourth-best passing attack at 312.3 yards per game through the air.Packers wideouts Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and James Jones each have more than 300 receiving yards through four games, so the Ravens will depends on Suggs and the defensive line to put heat on Rodgers to prevent these targets from getting loose. Though they allowed only one sack against Detroit in Week 5, the Packers have struggled to protect Rodgers with fourth-round rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari — veteran Bryan Bulaga was lost for the year in the preseason — and an offensive line that yielded 10 sacks in their first three games.The Ravens secondary fully acknowledges how the pass rush has aided the transition of two new starting safeties — including rookie Matt Elam — from a year ago.“It’s like our best friend right now,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “Once we can sic our dogs on them, it’s heaven for defensive backs, because we’re just waiting for the ball to fly out. We’re running with our backs down to the ball, and you hear big cheers that we just got a sack.”What’s been even more effective for the Ravens’ pass rush and defense in general has been the ability to consistently generate pressure with the front four, which was a constant problem a year ago with a weaker defensive line and a banged-up Suggs for much of the season. According to Pro Football Focus, only four of the Ravens’ 19 sacks this season have come by use of the blitz, leaving more defenders to drop into coverage on many occasions.Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has effectively used sub packages to not only keep the defensive line fresh but to confuse opponents by lining pass rushers up at various spots over the course of the game.“Pressure in any kind of way is good,” Suggs said. “You can do it with three-man rushes; you can do it with blitzes. You definitely don’t want an NFL quarterback to have all day.”Unlike other top quarterbacks such as Manning and Brady who are statuesque in the pocket, Rogers will move away from pressure, making it critical for the defensive line to be disciplined and mindful of the edges in its quest to hit the 2011 league MVP and three-time Pro Bowl selection as much as possible.The Ravens followed a similar strategy in each of the last two weeks against mobile quarterbacks in Buffalo’s EJ Manuel and Tannehill. However, defenders warn that they can’t let discipline turn into hesitation with the fear of Rodgers using his legs to roll and escape trouble.“You’ve just got to keep on after him and keep rushing him,” defensive tackle Arthur Jones said. “When you play timid, you open up more lanes to run. If we play our game of football, we’ll take care of it.”The Ravens’ defensive game has lived and died with their front seven this season, and they’ll have an opportunity to show the disastrous Week 1 performance against Manning and the powerhouse Broncos was more of an aberration than an inability to answer the challenge against a top offense.Suggs has been the ringleader of the pass rush with seven sacks already, putting him on pace to shatter his career high of 14 collected in his award-winning campaign just two years ago. But like the rest of a defense that currently ranks 14th in yards and points allowed, Suggs isn’t satisfied and sees better days ahead for the group.Containing Rodgers and an offense that’s averaged over 450 yards and just under 30 points per contest would be the Baltimore defense’s loudest statement yet.“It’s just five games,” said Suggs of his monster start as well as the Ravens’ potent pass rush. “We have a great expectation for this team. You can’t be satisfied after five games with what you’ve done. You always want to consider your progress. It’s not a big deal. We’re going to continue to work.”last_img read more

Caps Lose Game & Season Series to the Flyers

first_img1-2-1.That is the Capitals final 2014-15 record against the Philadelphia Flyers following Sunday’s 3-2 defeat in Filthy.That is unacceptable to Capitals fans, plain and simple.The good news is despite the lousy and very lackluster efforts the Caps exhibited versus their despised rivals from up I-95, Washington will return to the post season this spring while Claude Giroux and company will most likely start slapping Titleist’s around once the regular season ends.Still, Sunday’s effort was terrible, especially the first period. Perhaps the fact that some crazy Flyers fan pulled the fire alarm at the team hotel at 1:30 am messed the Capitals up today and caused them to play a sleepy game? Or maybe the Flyers match up well with the Caps? Or perhaps the line up that Coach Barry Trotz iced today caused the team to be out of sync?I’ll go with questions number one and number three from above.The Flyers are not a good team and their defense is weak. The Capitals should cream these guys assuming they stay out of the box.There’s one big problem from Sunday, the Caps took too many early penalties and as a result the Flyers scored their first two goals on the power play, the second of which was on a five on three, to take a 2-0 lead.As for the Washington power play, well it stunk to high heaven on Sunday going 0 for 5 against the 28th ranked PK unit in the league.  Assistant coach Blaine Forsythe has some work to do with that group because too many pucks were being forced to Alex Ovechkin when there were other openings. The team also needs to learn to just simplify and shoot with traffic. The 6 on 4 at the end of the game was absolutely putrid.It also helps if you have your line up in sync and the one Trotz put out there on Sunday smelled like the city they were playing in. Out was Andre Burakovsky and in went Michael Latta. A top line that dominated on Saturday against the Islanders until the coaches stopped playing them late in regulation was transformed into one that started with Jay Beagle on right wing, but he took a penalty on the opening shift. Marcus Johansson, who was subpar on line number two on Saturday, then moved to the top unit thereafter and didn’t play well there either.In addition, Cameron Schilling was put in on the third defensive pairing while Jack Hillen was scratched. Trotz told the media afterwards that they are evaluating depth options on defense in preparation for next Monday’s trade deadline (March 2nd). So I’m okay with that one, but the Burakovsky move and subsequent domino effect is a head scratcher.In the last seven games that #65 has played the Capitals are 7-0-0 and he is a +8, with no minus games. Burakovsky has been strong on the puck and has the high end talent to play with the highly skilled Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. The analytics seem to support the value Burakovsky provides to the team’s puck possession statistics, as well. On the contrary, when Jason Chimera has been in the lineup the last six times the Caps are 3-3 and he is -2 with no plus games. Still, there we were late in the Flyers game down a goal and Chimera is out on the power play while Burakovsky is up eating nachos in the press box. In addition, Chimera had 1:27 of man advantage time while Eric Fehr received none. Makes little sense to me.Thankfully there are only eight days until the trade deadline and then after that the Capitals hopefully finalize their roster and stop with this revolving door of a lineup. Washington needs to build some continuity and confidence over the last month plus of the season so they are ready for the playoffs in a wide open Eastern Conference.On Sunday, they did nothing of the sort and Michael Del Zotto, who was key in the Rangers playoffs series wins over the Caps in 2012 and 2013, scored the game winner to send Washington with their tails between their legs on the train back to DC.Trotz has done a lot of good things with this team in bringing them together, getting them to commit to the new system, getting Braden Holtby back on track, and solidifying the blue line, but when it comes to lineup choices and stability as well as late game decision making, that’s where he and his staff need to improve if the Capitals want to go deep in the post season.Make no mistake about this, the Capitals are an infinitely better team than they were a season ago under the horrible Adam Oates experiment that was made worse by some terrible personnel moves by the departed George McPhee. Trotz and GM Brian MacLellan have done a super job of turning things around. Kudos to them for what they’ve done and the high expectations the fan base has are a result of their immediate success.However, everyone can improve and there are still no Stanley Cup banners hanging from the Verizon Center ceiling. This team has the potential to make a run at the Cup but they have to properly use their assets. The coaching staff has done a lot of good things, but they can still be better. Hopefully they are learning what doesn’t work when leading, like shortening the bench and not playing Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin, who are top puck possessors. In addition, icing the best possible lineup is something that can be improved upon, which means putting skill players like Burakovsky in the top six and slotting the bottom six guys where they belong.1-2-1 against the Flyers. I don’t like it at all.But Wednesday they have a chance to go 4-0 against the Penguins. Doing that would make the fan base feel a lot better about their despicable performance against the Flyers this season.Still, it’s all about the playoffs and that’s where the coaches need to be focused and improve in the aforementioned areas.Notes: The Caps fall to 33-18-10 and back to 4th place in the Metropolitan Division…Ovechkin led the Caps in ice time with 23:46, but he and Backstrom were held pointless…Holtby made 25 saves and appeared to be interfered with on the game winning goal, but that was set up by a terrible Capitals line change that gave Del Zotto far too much room…shot attempts were even at 54 for this one but the Flyers had more on net, 28-23.last_img read more

Ravens-related thoughts on Week 7

first_imgEverything about the Ravens organization has come under scrutiny after a 1-5 start with recent draft history being among the biggest concerns.Though their draft issues pale in comparison to teams like Cleveland who have failed miserably with multiple top choices, I couldn’t help but notice how few of the Ravens’ recent high picks would be contributing in Monday’s contest against Arizona. And much of the blame can be placed on injuries.In total, the Ravens have selected nine players in the first three rounds over their last three drafts and just four of them — linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive tackles Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, and Carl Davis — were expected to play meaningful snaps on Monday night. Four others — safeties Matt Elam and Terrence Brooks, wide receiver Breshad Perriman, and tight end Maxx Williams — are sidelined with injuries and 2013 second-round inside linebacker Arthur Brown has been nothing more than a special-teams player in his third season.It’s interesting to note that the defensive line is one of the Ravens’ few strengths while they’ve lacked playmakers in the secondary and in the passing game, areas where these absent draft picks normally reside. While the blame doesn’t fall solely on these recent selections, it’s difficult to look at that breakdown without concluding it’s a substantial part of what ails the Ravens.** Much has been made about the NFL still having five undefeated teams at the end of seven weeks, but taking a closer look at the AFC should have the Ravens kicking themselves over their horrendous start. After New England, Cincinnati, and Denver, the conference sports just two other teams — Pittsburgh and the New York Jets — with winning records as the calendar is ready to turn to November.Anyone who looked at the Ravens’ early-season schedule needed to be realistic about the daunting task of playing five of their first seven on the road, but many opined that a 4-3 record — even 3-4 — would put John Harbaugh’s team in position to make a run in the second half with an easier schedule. That would have proven to be true if not for a 1-5 start, but the Ravens can’t really complain when holding an 0-2 record at M&T Bank Stadium this year.** Baltimore appears to be getting San Diego at the right time as the Chargers have lost three straight and were handled at home by Oakland on Sunday, but coming off a Monday night road game is a difficult proposition. Under Harbaugh, the Ravens hold a 3-5 record in games immediately following a Monday road game and one of those wins — against Arizona in 2011 — was the largest comeback in team history.The defense-challenged Chargers may only be 2-5, but preparing for Philip Rivers and the league’s top-ranked passing game on a short week could be a nightmare for the Ravens pass defense. For what it’s worth, the Ravens were coming off a Monday night road game last year when they lost to the Chargers in Baltimore.** The Steelers did an admirable job surviving without Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to return to action against the Bengals in Week 8.Going 2-2 in games started by Mike Vick and Landry Jones is quite respectable, but those two losses came against teams that entered Week 7 with 1-5 records. That has to eat away at coach Mike Tomlin as Pittsburgh trails Cincinnati by three games in the loss column in the AFC North standings.** Former University of Maryland standout Stefon Diggs had six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in Minnesota’s 28-19 win over Detroit on Sunday.Meanwhile, Ravens first-round pick Breshad Perriman still isn’t practicing and fourth-round cornerback Tray Walker — drafted 10 spots ahead of Diggs — hasn’t been trusted to play defensive snaps despite a slew of injuries in the secondary.Carry on.last_img read more