The Capitals Even the Series in A Pulse-Pounding Thriller

Nick Colletti

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Thursday April 20, 2017

tom wilsonThe heavily favored Washington Capitals have faced an opponent in the Toronto Maple Leafs that many predicted would be eliminated with ease by a D.C hockey club that has played some of its best hockey in franchise history. Three games into this series, the Maple Leafs have surprised hockey fans and audiences everywhere. Their ability to challenge the Presidents Trophy-winning Capitals with nifty goaltending from Frederic Andersen and a potent offense led by Toronto’s premium young talent has abruptly disturbed Caps fans everywhere.

Heading into a pivotal Game 4 in the rambunctious Air Canada Center full of passionate hockey-mad Ontario citizens, the Capitals needed to be at their best to quiet the chaos. Two quick goals from the sticks of TJ Oshie off a rebound and a laser slap shot from the hashmarks by Alex Ovechkin steered momentum in favor of the visitors, at least for a little bit. The puck luck for the Maple Leafs would continue to frustrate Washington as Zach Hyman deflected a pass from the point past Braden Holtby and resurrected the Toronto faithful. At this moment, Caps fans felt a familiar “here we go again” feeling and braced for another blown lead that has eviscerated significant games in recent past. But it would be two quick goals from an unexpected hero in Tom Wilson that allowed Caps fans to exhale heading into the first intermission.

Toronto would score first in the second stanza off yet another lucky bounce to cut Washington’s lead into two, courteous of James van Riemsdyk. The rest of the period would remain scoreless but at the end the Capitals started to play with fire. After a slashing penalty from Brooks Orpik, the Capitals faced a difficult 5-on-3 penalty kill heading into the third period.

The Capitals would be successful in killing the penalty and gave them much needed momentum any road team strives to obtain. That momentum would be strained after Auston Matthews buried the puck into the net off yet another lucky bounce. Less than a minute later however TJ Oshie would find himself a narrow lane of ice heading right toward Andersonn and made no mistake in striking the back of the net with a gorgeously executed five-hole goal. The crucial insurance goal would make the contest 5-3 in favor of Washington and it would be up to the defense and Braden Holtby to stand tall and close this game out. The Capitals resilience would be tested again when Tyler Bozak notched a late goal with 27 seconds left in the final period, but it wouldn’t be enough as Washington fought and tied the series heading back to D.C.

Many have been surprised so far on how competitive and difficult the Maple Leafs have been to the heavily favored Capitals. As Game 5 approaches, fans should expect this to be a long series and extend to seven games. In recent years most Game 7s on home ice have not treated the Capitals favorably. Even though this is a different team since those last season-ending disappointments, you really can’t blame any Caps fans for worrying if history will repeat itself.

The Capitals Defeat the Jackets at Home in a Thrilling OT Victory

Nick Colletti

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Friday March 24, 2017

caps-bjsIn what was the most significant game of this long season, the Washington Capitals win an OT thriller against Columbus to remain as the top seed of the Eastern Conference. A nail-biting contest between two heavyweights in their fierce division was a low-scoring feud and perhaps a first round playoff preview. A chess match ensued when both teams fought for every inch of ice and zone time and whoever blinked first would give up that crucial first goal.

It would be the Caps that blinked first, surrendering the first tally off a Seth Jones snapshot from the point that rose above a sprawling Braden Holtby and quieted the Red House faithful, but not for long. Dmitry Orlov would answer with a slap shot of his own from the blue line and made Verizon Center loud again, tying the game at one and forcing overtime.

3-on-3 play commenced for five minutes with both teams getting high-grade scoring chances. But within the frenzy of OT play, neither Vezina trophy candidate in Braden Holtby or Sergei Bobrovsky gave up a goal. It would have to take a shootout to determine the victor. T.J Oshie, who tormented Bobrovsky in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, outwitted the phenomenal goaltender with a five-hole dart that almost pierced the through the back of the net. It was a rather simple shootout play with very little stick work but the shot was executed brilliantly, proof that if you give Oshie just an inch of the five-hole, he will bury it.

The Blue Jackets would fail to score in any of the three rounds of the shootout and a vital two points was earned by the Caps. The Capitals now have a 3 point lead ahead of Columbus and a 2 point lead ahead of Pittsburgh. As the Stanley Cup Playoffs loom closer and closer, home ice advantage will be coveted and fought for until the very end of the season. Each team treats having a Game 7 on home ice as a significant commodity and worth fighting tooth-and-nail to obtain. The Capitals are no different. If the Capitals clinch home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a Game 7 in their barn may make their quest for the Cup a little easier and the immense pressure placed on them a little lighter.

How is Manchester United Going to Play Without Zlatan?

Justin Cheng

WGMU Blogger

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

With Zlatan Ibrahimović picking up a three-game ban, Jose Mourinho and Manchester United are desperate to figure out a plan to play without him. For the next three games, they are playing the league leader Chelsea in the FA cup, the Middlesbrough and Wes Bromwich. Zlatan even scored an away goal playing against Rostov in the Europa league Thursday.

The ideal way is to pick Rashford up front and simply replace Zlatan’s place with another forward, with Rashford, Martial and Mkhitaryan, they are providing a quick attack team performance to the team. However, the problem to this plan is that not only Jose Mourinho prefers to pick out experienced player, Rashford is nothing like the tall, strong Swede. Even though Rashford is quick enough, Zlatan has the perfect ball controlling skills that the young English just cannot come near to. More importantly this is something that Manchester must figure out.

Rumor has it that Zlatan will not extend his contract with Manchester United. Zlatan is already doing a fantastic job for his age. He is still one of the top scorers around the world, but he is not getting any younger. It is now time for Manchester United to search for a padawan to take his place in the possible future.

Susio is on Track to Become a Star at AC Milan

Justin Cheng

WGMU Blogger

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AC Milan signed Spanish winger Suso Fernandez from Liverpool with a 1.3-million-euro compensation fee to Liverpool. Until the last season, Suso only has appeared for AC Milan 6 times in Seria A.

He was sent to Genoa for the second half of 2015/2016 where he performed perfectly with 6 goals and 1 assist while playing for Genoa. However, Suso has turned his career at AC Milan totally around. He came back during the summer of 2016 with a lot of uncertainties. However, with the perfect performance at the preseason friendly game against Brodeaux under the new Coach Vincenzo Montella’s management, he scored twice and secured a win in France for his team. And ever since that friendly, Suso has become a superstar for AC Milan.

With the confidence of Montella, and his experience he gained over Genoa, the young winger has become a lot more threatening for the Italian team. By the time of the Milan derby game, Suso stated that he would walk home if he scores 2 goals and helps Milan to get that three points. Even though his two goals have become a reality, it wasn’t enough to ensure that win for his team. But Suso did play a vital role for AC Milan. Suso did have a hard time when he started at AC Milan, but with the excellent performance he put on for his team this season, he has turned around this situation.

 

The Acquisition of Milan Gets Postponed Again!

Justin Cheng

WGMU Blogger

during the Serie A match between AC Milan and SS Lazio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on March 20, 2016 in Milan, Italy.

President of Milan Silvio Berlusconi will be staying for one more month due to the factor Sino-Europe sports failed completing the transaction for the closing date yet again. March 3, 2017 was marked for Milan fans all around the world as the Chinese group complete the transaction with Berlusconi’s Fininvest.

Per Sky Italia, everything is postponed yet again even though the fact everything was fine until Friday. It seems to be that 2 of the Chinese group investors are pulling out leaving the Sino-Europe group short in funds at the last minutes. As of right now the Sino-Europe sports group is missing nearly 100 million euros to complete the transaction and now the Chinese group is seeking a different solution.

Per Sky Italia and many Italy news agencies, the SES group will be making another deposit of 100 million euros by Friday, which has set the new closing date to March 31.

There are some other alternatives that was proposed by the SES group but was rejected by Fininvest.

This has become one of the longest, probably the weirdest take over in the sports history around the world. No one, not even the two parties themselves have any idea how this takeover is headed and the fact the takeover delays more will cause more problems.

After The Trade Deadline, The Capitals Postseason Looks Promising

Nick Colletti

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Thursday March 2, 2017

skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on February 28, 2017 in New York City. The Capitals defeated the Rangers 4-1.

The acquisition of defenseman Kevin Shatterkirk from the St. Louis Blues has given many Capitals’ faithful genuine excitement heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A blue liner that can assist on the power play and provide even more depth to what was already a deep defensive roster. Goaltender Phoenix Copley was also a part of the transaction as well, returning to the organization that drafted him.

Multiple high draft picks were sold to buy these players but these are picks the Capitals can afford to lose. Once again a favorite to win the Cup, the Caps had no business selling and GM Brian MacLellan demonstrated his confidence in this squad by locking and loading  for April, and hopefully May and June. His team is playing the best hockey this franchise has ever witnessed, even more so than the Presidents Trophy squad the season before.

The Capitals who currently possess the best record in the league, also have multiple injuries that can hopefully be resolved before the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Andre Burakovsky is nursing a broken wrist and may not return for a couple of weeks. Both Brooks Orpik and T.J Oshie have been bruised up but both are expected to hit the ice in the not-so-distant future.

A major complaint of last year’s Caps team was the theory that the team had peaked to soon and weren’t in postseason shape when the playoffs began. This year as the playoffs become less distant it seems the Capitals are starting to peak at the perfect time, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins did last year. Emulating the 2015-2016 Penguins isn’t a bad idea at all and the Caps should do all they can to play copycat. If they do, few teams pose a threat in their quest for Lord Stanley this spring.

Holtby/Grubauer- The Best Goalie Tandem In The NHL

Nick Colletti

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Friday February 10, 2017

caps goaliesIt is without a doubt that the Washington Capitals possess the greatest goalie tandem in the NHL. No other organization has such outstanding depth and versatility at the game’s most significant position. Braden Holtby and Philip Grubauer have been lights out and rarely give up any easy goals. Both standing strong in their creases and their Dominik Hasek-like acrobatic agility has been the key ingredient behind some of their remarkable shutouts within the last few months. The team in front of them is playing better than anytime in recent memory, scoring profusely and shutting down teams with strong grit and brutal intensity. But all the players in front of these two great goaltenders are given the energy and confidence they need because of their goalie’s stellar play between the posts.

Backup goaltender Philip Grubauer has 10 wins in 15 games with a save percentage of .931. Holtby ranks third in the league in wins with a goals against average of 1.97. Statistics like these clearly illustrate that whom the Capitals have in net this season is very special. Holtby continues to remain a viable candidate for his second Vezina and Grubauer continues to show he can replace other NHL teams starting goalie with ease.

As great as winning in the regular season is, what happens in the spring is what really counts.  A team knowing they can trust their goalies from giving up easy goals and preventing their mistakes from ending up as tally’s is a huge psychological necessity a team must have if they want to go deep into the postseason. With these two goalies in the Caps lineup, fans should be confident that this is the year this snake-bitten franchise gets over the hump.

Four Players to Watch in Super Bowl LI

Kaleel Weatherly

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Sunday February 5, 2017

super bowlThe New England Patriots will face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. This will be an exciting game to watch because both offenses can score points with ease. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady are two of the best signal-callers in the league.
Indeed, they will play huge roles in this matchup, but there are four other players who you should keep an eye on.
Mohamed Sanu (WR):
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick likes to take away what an offense does best. Atlanta likes to throw the ball to receiver Julio Jones. It’s no secret that Jones is quarterback Matt Ryan’s go-to target, especially in the red zone. The 28-year-old receiver will most likely face double coverage in this game, so Mohamed Sanu has to step up.
In 2016, Sanu caught 59 passes for 653 yards and four touchdowns. If Sanu can consistently make plays in this game, he gives Atlanta a chance of winning its first Super Bowl.
Chris Hogan (WR):
Many of you may not know who Chris Hogan is, but he has been a playmaker all season for the Patriots. His nickname is “7-11” because he is always open. In the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 28-year-old finished with 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Hogan is a solid route-runner who can make difficult catches. Atlanta’s defensive backfield will focus on containing receiver Julian Edelman, who is Tom Brady’s go-to target. Hogan may not be the best receiver in the league, but he can wreak havoc on the field.
Vic Beasley Jr. (LB):
Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley Jr. had a stellar season in 2016. The 24-year-old led the NFL with 15.5 sacks. New England will try its best to make sure Beasley doesn’t get pressure on Brady.
The young linebacker is a relentless pass rusher who can make game-changing plays. Even though Atlanta’s defense struggled in 2016, Beasley was one of the few bright spots. Brady, watch out for Beasley.
LeGarrette Blount (RB):
Indeed, New England has one of the best passing offenses in the NFL. But running back LeGarrette Blount has been phenomenal on the ground in 2016. The 30-year-old ran for 1,161 yards and a league-high 18 touchdowns.
The Patriots will test Atlanta’s front seven early and often. They want to see how stout the Falcons are on defense. In 2016, Atlanta had the 17th-ranked rushing defense, so New England will probably run the ball at least 25 times in this matchup.
Blount can wear down a defense because of his physical running style.

Why Tom Brady is the Best Quarterback of All Time

Kaleel Weatherly

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Friday February 3, 2017

tom bradyNew England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has achieved so much in his career. The 39-year-old is a four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, a two-time NFL MVP, and a three-time Super Bowl MVP.

Let’s not forget that he is a 12-time Pro Bowler as well. Brady is the best quarterback of all-time because he achieved so much with different players on offense.

It’s no secret that Brady has been throwing to a revolving door of receivers since he entered the league in 2000. For some reason, he always gets a lot production out of each receiver who comes to Foxborough.

Still not convinced? Well, according to Ricky Doyle of NESN.com, the 39-year-old signal-caller has thrown at least one touchdown pass to 64 different players in his career. He only needs to throw a touchdown pass to six different players to tie Vinny Testaverde record of 70. Here are some of the players who Brady threw a touchdown pass to:

  • Alge Crumpler
  • Doug Gabriel
  • Chad Jackson
  • Reche Caldwell
  • Bethel Johnson

These are not household names, folks. Some people say Brady is successful because he played in the same system for his entire career. Indeed, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been Brady’s coach since he came into the league.

However, most people fail to realize that a quarterback has to build chemistry with his receivers and tight ends to be successful. And it usually takes a long time for players to build chemistry.

Even with new faces each year at the receiver positon, the Patriots’ offense was still lethal. From 2009-2016, New England finished with a top-10 offense seven times. In 2014, it had the 11th-ranked offense.

Brady did play with some great players like Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Troy Brown, and Deion Branch. And the 39-year-old still plays with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.

When you think of the great quarterbacks in NFL history, most of them played with superstar tight ends and receivers throughout most of their careers.

For example, Peyton Manning threw to Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Joe Montana had Jerry Rice, and Troy Aikman had Michael Irvin. Moss, who is considered one of the best receivers of all-time, only played with Brady from 2007-2010.

Brady is the best quarterback of all-time because he achieved so much with players who did not have a lot of success with other teams. The four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback always finds ways to win.

What Happened to Todd Gurley?

Kaleel Weatherly

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Wednesday February 1, 2017

todd gurleyLos Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley got off to a great start in the NFL, but fans are wondering what happened to the 22-year-old running back. Why didn’t he have a great sophomore season? What happened to him?

Well, when the then-St. Louis Rams selected running back Todd Gurley with the 10th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, they thought they were getting an Adrian Peterson-type runner.

Coming out of Georgia, Gurley’s running style was similar to Peterson’s. He possessed a rare blend of power, speed, agility, and quickness. Jeff Fisher, who was the Rams’ head coach at the time, wanted the offense to be centered around the ground game.

Fisher wanted a running back who could run the ball 20-25 times a game. Gurley definitely fitted the bill. In his rookie season with the Rams, Gurley showed the NFL how lethal he could be. He ran for 1,106 yards to go along with 10 touchdowns, and he won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award for his efforts.

However, the one-time Pro Bowler experienced the proverbial sophomore slump in 2016.

He couldn’t find rushing lanes or break off long runs. Indeed, the Rams kept feeding defenses a heavy diet of Gurley, but he didn’t make many big plays. The young runner ran for 885 yard to go along with six touchdowns and only averaged 3.18 yards per carry.

Now, Gurley should shoulder some of the blame for his sophomore slump. However, the Rams did not surround him with enough talent. It’s hard to be a successful running back in the NFL when your offensive linemen cannot create rushing lanes for you.

The Rams’ offensive line was mediocre at best. This unit didn’t carve out enough space for Gurley. Also, the passing game struggled throughout the entire season. Both Case Keenum and rookie quarterback Jared Goff lined up under center for the Rams in 2016, but neither performed well.

Goff couldn’t win a game for Los Angeles and threw for 1,089 yards to go along with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Keenum only racked up 2,201 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. To make matters worse, Los Angeles’ receivers and tight ends couldn’t get open and struggled with drops.

Kenny Britt was the best receiver on this team in 2016, catching 68 passes for 1,002 yards and five touchdowns. Opposing defenses knew the Rams wanted run the ball with Gurley, so teams keyed in on Los Angeles’ rushing attack.

The Rams need to surround him with talented players. Because of Gurley’s sophomore slump and the offense’s lack of production, Los Angeles fired Fisher after five seasons with the franchise. The Rams went 31-45-1 during Fisher’s tenure with the team.

Now that they hired Washington’s former offensive coordinator Sean McVay to be the team’s new head coach, fans can expect Gurley to return to his old form.

Washington had the third-ranked offense in league last season. It also had the second-ranked pass offense. The 31-year-old head coach can come in and galvanize the Rams’ pass offense.  That is great news for the 22-year-old running back because a successful pass game will take a lot of pressure off of him.

Gurley should be back in vintage form in 2017.