BALTIMORE—The Washington Capitals made their money and won the Stanley Cup last season thanks to, despite what many might believe, a very solid and tough defense that made life difficult for their opponents in every game.
The Caps played with that style again for the first part of this season, a big reason why they spent much of it in the first place of the Metropolitan Division. But recently everything has fallen apart on defense as Washington gave up goals in batches and dropped seven straight heading into the All-Star break.
The Caps gave up 21 goals in their last three games before the break where they lost to Chicago, San Jose and Toronto. In fact, the loss to the Sharks might have been the toughest as Washington held the lead in the final seconds of regulation before giving up a goal with one second left and then falling 7-6 in overtime.
“When things don’t go our way now, it’s tough,” says Caps center Nicklas Backstrom. “If you have a winning streak, things are going easy for you. If you have a losing streak it’s a little tougher for you, and you’ve got to work extra hard for things. I think overall, we all need to step up here. We all need to play better as a team. We’re not happy with the way we’ve played, and that’s something we have to think about over the break here.”
Still, Coach Todd Reirden and others said the Capitals must get back to that type of defense. They’re not playing as tough as before. The team needs to get back to that if they want to find success again.
The second part of the season begins with a Feb. 1 home game against one of the NHL’s top teams, the Calgary Flames. That’s going to be without Alex Ovechkin who has been suspended for one game after he opted out of the All-Star festivities.
WIZARDS FALL TO SAN ANTONIO AGAIN
The Washington Wizards just can’t find success in San Antonio – and they couldn’t again on Jan. 27.
The Spurs outlasted the Wizards, 132-119, and Washington now has lost 19 straight games in San Antonio. In this game, injuries caused the Wizards to go short-handed, which didn’t help matters.
Washington pretty much stuck with eight players, using nine overall, but the Spurs got 13 players in the game.
Bradley Beal and Tomas Satoransky both pitched in with 21 points while Thomas Bryant added a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. But the Wizards gave up 70 points in the first half and could not play tough enough defense versus the sharp-shooting Spurs.
“We were just playing catch-up,” Beal told the team’s web site. “We couldn’t get stops. They’re the ones who defended.
HARBAUGH INKS NEW DEAL IN BALTIMORE
The Baltimore Ravens and Coach John Harbaugh announced an extension that’s designed to keep him guiding the AFC North champions through 2022.
The Ravens had announced a few weeks ago that Harbaugh definitely would be back for 2019 – his contract ran through then – and that both sides were working on a new deal. That new deal came into place late last week.
Harbaugh has been with the Ravens since 2008 and taken them to the playoffs seven times. This year was one of his best jobs as he turned over much of the offense after nine games to make it a run-heavy, option-type offense better suited to the skills of rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Now, Harbaugh will be the one to guide Jackson as he tries to lead the Ravens.
“I’m very excited with this contract, the opportunity to continue our work here, and I’m humbled by it,” Harbaugh said in a team statement. “I am thankful for the support from the Ravens, especially Steve Bisciotti. We’re working hard to make the 2019 Ravens the best we can be.”
No financial details were released.