Capitals beat Knights 4-3 to secure their first Stanley Cup Title

Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals were able to lay their playoff demons to rest and finally win a Stanley Cup after they beat the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

In the moments leading up to the game Washington forward Alex Ovechkin took part in some early gamesmanship with Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleurys by slashing his stick in the pregame warm ups before Fleury returned the favor with a stick to Ovechkin’s leg. Both teams were ready to set the tempo and physical even before the game started with the faces of both franchises ready to go.

Game 5 got off to a fast, physical start for both teams with little to distinguish them. Both teams exchanged rushes of offense zone time for the first several minutes of the game. The physicality ramped up early with a huge hit from Capitals forward Tom Wilson on Knights’ forward William Karlsson, that appeared to injure him on the play as he was slow to return to Vegas’ bench. However, he was able to play for the rest of the game.

The Capitals were given an early opportunity to take the lead with a powerplay with just under ten minutes to go. Early into their man advantage, Ovechkin rang a shot off of the post, the Capitals’ best chance to grab an early game 5 lead on the power play.

The Knights were able to kill the penalty and prevent the Capitals from grabbing the early lead. This power play proved to be the best opportunity for either team to score in the first but the teams headed into the intermission tied at zero.

Seconds into the second period, the T.J. Oshie was able to draw a tripping penalty to put the Capitals back onto the power play. The Capitals were unable to score on the power play after some great goalkeeping from Fleury, who had stopped all twelve shots he had faced up to that point in the game.

Immediately after the end of Washington’s power play, Vegas drew a penalty for a high stick, giving them their first power play of the game. Like the Capitals’ power plays, the Golden Knights were unsuccessful on their first one.

With thirteen minutes to go in the first, the Capitals took advantage of an opportunity to counter attack and forward Jakub Vrana beat Fleury glove side to give the Capitals the first goal of the game.

Three minutes later Vegas was able to equalize with a shot from Nate Schmidt that deflected off the skate of Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen. Seconds later Vegas committed another penalty to put Washington back on the power play. Just seconds in Ovechkin was able to take advantage and put the Capitals back on top. However, the lead would not last as David Perron would tie the game up at two just two minutes later.

With a little over two minutes to go in the second Ovechkin tripped Vegas forward William Karlsson, giving the Knights a power play for nearly the remainder of the period. This time former bruin Reilly Smith was able to find the back of the net for his second goal in as many games and to give Vegas its first lead of the game with thirty seconds remaining in the second. However, a scrum ensued following the goal leading to penalties against Brooks Orpik and Alex Tuch and a four on four situation.

After a five goal second period, the teams entered the final frame with the Golden Knights up three to two.

The action picked up immediately in the third with the teams trading excellent opportunities with the goalies robbing a goal each, all within the first two minutes. Five minutes into the period, the Capitals would get their first opportunity at a power play in the final frame. The best opportunity on the power play came from Vegas when forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare intercepted a pass and had a breakaway but was shut down by a great defensive effort from Ovechkin.

With ten minutes left in the game Washington forward Devante Smith-Pelly did his best Bobby Orr impression and scored the game-tying goal, which was his third straight game with a goal. Brooks Orpik was just barely able to keep the puck in the zone and was able to find a way to get the puck back to the net.

The Capitals were not done scoring yet, with seven to go forward Lars Eller found the puck on a second chance opportunity and was able to find the back of the net and give Washington the lead. The Knights would not be able to score and the Capitals were able to secure their first Stanley Cup Title in the team’s 44 year history.

For Vegas to come so close to a title in the first year of their existence is something that has to be recognized. After the tragic shooting in Las Vegas last fall, the city needed something to rally around and the Knights gave them that by having unprecedented success for an expansion team in their first year with 51 wins and a Finals appearance. Vegas was also able to prove that it deserved to have an NHL team with the passion the fans displayed throughout the team’s inaugural season.

After the game, Alex Ovechkin was named the Conn Smythe trophy winner, the award given to the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, for being the playoff leader in goals and leading the Capitals to their first title. Ovechkin is a generational talent and will finally be able to add his name to Lord Stanley’s Cup and effectively cement his place in NHL history.

Photo from Bleacher Report on Twitter

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Breaking Down Julian Edelman’s Four Game Suspension

New England Patriots’ star wide receiver Julian Edelman will reportedly miss the first four games of the 2018 season after being suspended for a PED violation, according to Adam Schefter.

Coming off of a torn ACL that sidelined him for the entirety of the 2017 season, Edelman will likely be spending four more games on the sideline, pending his appeal. While the Patriots were able to make it to the Super Bowl without Edelman last year, losing him to start this season could prove to be more of an issue than it was last year.

The Patriots will still have star tight end Rob Gronkowski despite the will he won’t he retire rumors that have been going around since the Patriots’ defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52 back in February and Tom Brady will still be under center come September, but things will be different to start the year for the Patriots. However, the Patriots did lose one player that could have made the loss of Edelman a bit easier, Danny Amendola who signed with the Miami Dolphins at the start of free agency back in March.  Last year, Amendola was able to step in and fill Edelman’s role quite effectively last year coming out of the slot so it may be difficult to replace that productivity with some of the receivers on the Patriots’ roster. The guy coming out of the slot has typically been Brady’s go to receiver for pretty much his entire career, going back to the early days with Troy Brown, followed by Wes Welker. Losing both guys that filled that spot for the past several years puts the Patriots in a tough position.

The Patriots’ wide receiver corp is also full of newcomers, including former Bills’ receiver Jordan Matthews and former Raiders’ receiver/ kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. In the draft the Patriots selected wide receiver Braxton Berrios in the sixth round, who fits the prototypical mold for the slot receiver that Brady has relied on in the past but there is no way of telling if he will be able to fill that role right away at this point in the offseason. There are also still questions surrounding Malcolm Mitchell who also missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury and has yet to show up on the practice field during the Patriots’ mandatory camp this week.

However, despite these questions at the receiver position, they may be able to find a solution for the hole Edelman leaves behind at the running back position. In the past, running back James White has become an excellent receiver for the Patriots and has shown up in huge games, including his MVP caliber performance in Super Bowl 51, during which he caught a record 14 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Falcons (http://www.latimes.com/sports/nfl/la-sp-super-bowl-notebook-20170205-story.html). The Patriots also have receiver Chris Hogan returning, someone that has gained Brady’s trust over the past couple of years, so he could also try to fill the void left by Edelman.

It could be tough for the Patriots to replace Edelman’s productivity without Amendola, but between Hogan, Gronkowski and White, they should be able to manage for the first four games of the 2018 season. Having one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time should also help the Patriots get off to a normal start this season.

Photo from USA Today

Vegas Collapses as Washington takes 3-1 Series Lead

Things went from bad to worse for the Las Vegas Golden Knights after getting crushed by the Washington Capitals 6-2 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

After being thoroughly outplayed by the Capitals in Game 3, the Knights fought to get off to a fast start with several scoring opportunities just minutes into the game. In the first five minutes Vegas led Washington in scoring opportunities at five to one. Early into a first period power play called when John Carlson was caught for tripping, Vegas forward James Neal was nearly able to capitalize with an early shot on an open net that rang off the far post.

The Capitals were able to withstand the early onslaught and responded with a strong offensive presence of their own in the final ten minutes of the first, kickstarted by the opening goal of the game for Washington. On the Capitals’ first power play of the game, forward T.J. Oshie was able to show some fancy footwork and take advantage of a rebound off of Knights’ goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and find the back of the net to give the Capitals an early 1-0 lead. A defensive miscue left Oshie wide open on the opposite side of the net without a defender in sight after Tomas Nosek failed to track him when the Capitals entered the offensive zone and was left in the dust with Oshie in position to put the puck in the net.

However, the Capitals were not done in the first, with just over three minutes left in the first, forward Tom Wilson was able to double the lead after receiving a cross ice pass from forward Evgeny Kuznetsov. Then with just seconds to go forward Devante Smith-Pelly found the back of the net for the second game in a row to put the Capitals up 3-0 with twenty seconds left in the first.

In the second Vegas fought back drawing two penalties in the first ten minutes and played well but were unable to execute despite ample scoring opportunities. In that time alone the Knights rang four more shots off the post in addition to the several shots off the pipes in the first. Throughout the entire period, the Knights had plenty of opportunities to cut into the lead including two power plays but could not capitalize. Unfortunately for Vegas, the Capitals could.

With five minutes to go in the second, the Capitals were on their second power play of the game and Carlson was able score the fourth goal of the game following Kuznetsov’s second assist.

Despite Vegas’ numerous chances in the period, they could not find a way to get the puck past Washington goalie Braden Holtby who had an excellent second period, stopping anything and everything that came his way.

Early in the third, the four goal deficit seemed to be a back breaker for the Knights. The first several minutes proved to be an incredibly sloppy run of play for Vegas, including a careless slashing call against forward Erik Haula. This was the first power play of the night for Washington that did not result in a goal. Seconds after the successful penalty kill for Vegas, the Capitals surrendered a penalty of their own. After being 0-4 on the power play heading into this one, Neal was finally able to put the puck in the back of the net and cut into Washington’s lead.

With seven minutes to go Vegas forward and former Bruin Reilly Smith was able to cut the lead in half after a nifty forehand to backhand move to beat Holtby and show that the Knights weren’t going to go out quietly. The Capitals responded almost immediately with the teams in a four on four situation with a goal from defenseman Michal Kempny after a couple of slick passes from Oshie and Nicklaus Backstrom.

Kempny’s goal proved to be the nail in the coffin for Vegas in Game 4. In the moments following his goal, you could tell that the Knights were ready for the game to be over and any energy they had was gone. Starting with three minutes in the game, Vegas gave up two incredibly careless penalties to put the Capitals in a 5 on 3 power play. With two minutes left Capitals coach Barry Trotz put out his best power play lineup, which led to a scrum between the teams leading to Oshie and Deryk Engelland being tossed from the game.

In the ensuing power play, Smith-Pelly scored his second goal of the game to put the Capitals up 6-2, a score that would not change for the rest of the game.

The series shifts back to Las Vegas for Game 5 on Thursday and the Knights have to be hoping that they can correct some of their mistakes and try to claw their way back from a 3-1 deficit in the series.

Capitals beat Golden Knights 3-1 to take 2-1 series lead

Despite a heroic effort from Las Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the Knights were unable to keep up with Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals’ high-powered offense.

It was a fast start with little to distinguish the two teams. Both the Capitals and Golden Knights traded opportunity after opportunity but the goalies stood tall throughout the first period. Early in the first, a potential first goal for the Capitals was waved off after Devante Smith-Pelly interfered with Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, sending the Knights to the power play, which the Capitals were able to kill.

Fleury’s play in particular sttod out in the first after robbing Alex Ovechkin of several scoring opportunities, including this beautiful save:

However, the tie would not last as Ovechkin was able to score just a minute into the second period after a Fleury save that rebounded the puck right to him in front of net.

After getting a power play halfway through the second, the Capitals were nearly able to add to the lead seconds into the man advantage after T.J. Oshie deflected a Nicklaus Backstrom shot off of the post. Just moments after the power play ended, Evgeny Kuznetsov doubled the Capitals’ lead. For Kuznetsov, there were serious concerns about his availability to play after suffering an upper body injury during the first period of Wednesday’s game. Despite allowing two goals in the period, Fleury was able to add to his highlight reel of saves after this incredible display of nearly inhuman reflexes:

Going into the third the Capitals still maintained a two goal lead with the teams on a four on four situation following tripping penalties from Smith-Pelly and Fleury at the end of the second.

Minutes into the third period, the Knights were able to cut the lead in half after a goal from Tomas Nosek after a questionable flip into traffic from Capitals’ goalie Braden Holtby. However, Smith-Pelly was able to pad the Capitals’ lead after an assist from Jay Beagle, his second of the night, with just six minutes to go in the game. With two and a half minutes to go, Fleury headed to the bench so the Knights could get an extra attacker on the ice, leading to an onslaught of offensive opportunities for Vegas.

The Caps were able to survive the attack and maintained their 3-1 lead through the end of the period. For Vegas, this is the first time that they have lost two games in a row in the entirety of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The teams will have a day to rest before they face off again on Monday night in our nation’s capital.

Image courtesy of sporting news

Blog Update: What am I writing about this Summer?

Hello internet, today I am writing to establish a clear direction for what is to come form my blog. I’m in between jobs at the moment so I am going to be focusing all of my effort into building and maintaining this blog. This means I will be adding weekly sports coverage as well as expanding into a couple of other areas and topics that I am passionate about to round out the blog.

Sports

Boston sports are near and dear to my heart so they will be the primary focus of my sports section. However, the Celtics, Bruins and Patriots are all in their offseasons so for now the analysis on the Boston side is going to stick to a weekly update on the Red Sox. I will still be writing about each of the other teams but it will mostly just be news stories without any games to cover. When it comes to the Patriots, training camp is still a ways away, so unless there is major breaking news for the team, coverage will be scarce but expect that to ramp up as camp and the preseason get closer.

With the finals still going on in the NHL and the NBA there is still some time before major off season events such as free agency and the drafts but I will cover both of those from the Bruins and Celtics perspectives. On the topic of the finals, my plan is to provide analysis of each game for both series, starting tonight with game three of the Stanley Cup Finals, so keep an eye out here for my story after the game ends.

I also will be doing some limited coverage of the World Cup, which will be getting started in the next couple of weeks. For the World Cup, I plan on writing an article after each round to recap what’s happened so far and preview the next round so I will post my first update after the group stage.

Gaming/Entertainment

I do want to broaden the scope of this blog outside of just sports so I will be adding some coverage of games and movies. For the most part, I will just be reviewing games and movies. I just finished the new God of War and am wrapping up the post game but expect a full review for that later this week. There are also plenty of movies coming out that I plan on reviewing, including Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Incredibles 2, plus I still need to see Solo: A Star Wars Story so expect reviews of each of those by the end of the month. I also will be doing write ups for each of the major conference at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). For those that don’t know, E3 is a major gaming convention that happens every June where companies announce their newest games as well as show off games that are currently in development. Each year the biggest companies at the conference, including Microsoft and Sony, hold a conference where they show off new and upcoming games so I will be covering each of these with analysis of some of the new titles that will be coming out in the near future.

So that’s the game plan for the next couple of months and the new direction for my blog. It’s gonna be a busy Summer but I’m going to do my best to keep the blog up to date with everything that I can.

How do We Fix Diversity Issues in Sports Journalism?

Unfortunately, the industry of sports journalism has become known as all-boys club and while some outlets are trying to change that perspective, not enough is being done to hire more diverse  sports newsrooms when it comes to gender and race.

It is important for sports newsrooms to hire a diverse group of people to cover sports because when it comes to sports, there are a lot of different issues and topics covered that require different perspectives. While historically sports journalism has been a field dominated by white men, some progress is being made but there needs to be room for more voices to be heard. Racially this is important because as of a National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) report from 2011, about 67 percent of NFL players are black, about 77 percent of all NBA players are black and 28 percent of MLB players are latino (http://www.nabj.org/news/63862/NABJ-News-NABJ-Calls-on-Media-Companies-to-Take-Action-on-APSEs-Racial.htm). These figures are important because they highlight the fact that newsrooms should be hiring diverse staffs for the sports they cover because these sports in many cases are very racially diverse and newsrooms should be able to follow the example of the sports they cover.

The most recent edition of the Associated Press Editors (APSE) Racial and Gender Report cards (http://nebula.wsimg.com/2b640482e881dddc4dfb39e6aca52c2e?AccessKeyId=DAC3A56D8FB782449D2A&disposition=0&alloworigin=1) show that the gender diversity in sports newsrooms may actually be getting worse while these organizations are making strides when it comes to racial diversity. The study looked at the diversity of several positions at newsrooms including editors, assistant editors, reporters, columnists, and copy editors or designers. There was only one position that did not receive an F which was assistant sports editors, which received a C- and stated that about thirty percent of the assistant editors were women. Overall, the total grade for gender diversity was an F and that was attributed to the fact that only 17.9 percent of the total staffs of the news organizations that were surveyed were women. This is also the fifth consecutive year that the organizations in the APSE received an F for gender diversity.

Another major concern that came out of the report is that the vast majority of people in these positions are white males, regardless of the increasing amount of minority representation in the industry. The study found that 85 percent of editors are white and that 90 percent of editors are men, representing the group with the fewest number of women hired for that position. It is also important to note that the number of women that are working as reporters has actually decreased since the last study back in 2014.

reporters

editors

Despite the grim outlook for diversity in sports journalism overall, there are certain organizations that are working hard to promote diversity. ESPN is at the forefront when it comes to having a diverse newsroom, so much so that without their numbers, the study would paint an even darker picture of the industry as a whole. The study found that out of the 89 women that worked as assistant sports editors, 75 of them worked at ESPN, a staggering 84 percent. It also found that out of the 44 women that worked as columnists, 38 of them worked at ESPN, which represents 86 percent of the people surveyed.

While the difference in editors is especially concerning, there are some bright spots that show that sports journalism is slowly becoming more diverse among the APSE news outlets. This is made clear through looking at the assistant editors and columnists.

assistant

columnists

So where do we go from here? One suggestion comes from Richard Lapchick, the director of the APSE and the primary author of the Racial and Gender Report Card. In an interview with AP reporter Joedy McCreery (https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/study-diversity-remains-low-sports-news-departments-54883891) he said that he thinks it may be a good idea to implement a Rooney Rule equivalent to hiring sports reporters and I think that is a great starting point. On SB Nation, Adam Stites does an excellent job of explaining what the Rooney Rule is. Basically, the Rule requires teams to interview minority candidates for vacant head coach and general manager positions before filling the empty positions.

In 2003, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, the man the rule is named for, spearheaded a movement to promote racial diversity in upper level positions in NFL teams after two African-American coaches, Tony Dungy and Dennis Green were fired despite having found success as coaches, following the 2002 season (https://www.sbnation.com/2018/1/6/16856550/rooney-rule-nfl-explained-how-it-works-coaches). While writing a report for ESPN about the study, Lapchick further emphasized the idea of Rooney Rule equivalent called the Ralph Wiley Rule, named after the late African-American writer (http://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/23382605/espn-leads-way-hiring-practices-sports-media).

Regardless of what happens, news organizations owe it to themselves to hire from a much more diverse pool of candidates. The news is better when we can get different perspectives and voices telling the same stories, regardless of if it is sports, politics or whatever the topic may be. If as journalists we are looking at and reporting on the flaws of other industries we have to do the same in our own and improve ourselves first.

However, things are looking up when it comes to diversity. From this clip from the show “Speak for Yourself” on Fox Sports highlights that like ESPN, other organizations are also working hard at promoting diversity with the people they hire for their on-air talent. For shows like this especially where much of the content is opinion based on current sports news, it is incredibly important to hire a diverse group of people because you are guaranteed to get people that have different opinions about the same topic, which is something sports journalism needs right now.

Boston Globe NewsTrack in Review

After following the Boston Globe for the past semester, one thing has become abundantly clear, the Globe is struggling to find an online identity.

While the Globe does a great job as a traditional, print-based news outlet it needs to find a way to create a balance on its website that is able to build upon while also separating itself from the newspaper. For two assignments we had to look at visuals from our NewsTrack websites and the Globe stood out for the wrong reasons in both cases. In the first visual report, we had to just report on how our websites used visuals such as pictures to add to their news coverage. In the case of the Globe, their visuals follow the same format that they would in the paper, with a single photo followed by the story. The Globe does have a section dedicated entirely to photos but is actually hidden away from the main page on the website.

The second assignment we had to do involving visuals was better when it came to the Globe’s website but not by much. For this assignment, we had to look up data visualizations from our NewsTrack sites and in doing so, I found that the Globe has an entire subsection dedicated to it in the Metro section of the website. However, these articles fall into the same issue that most of the articles do which is that the reader is just met with a wall of text just like it would be in the paper. And if you want to find the visualization of the data, you have to click away to a separate page.

It is clear from the Globe’s website that they are struggling to find an identity online and tend to just rely on their newspaper and not make the content different online. This is a big issue for a media outlet like the Globe because the paper and the web are two completely different entities that need to be addressed differently. While people are looking to read a wall of text in the newspaper, that is certainly not the case online. Online you need to grab your readers with visuals and other forms of media so that you can keep their attention because if you don’t, the reader can easily find a more captivating article about the same topic on a different site.

Despite this major flaw, the Globe does still stick to its mission. The Globe prides itself on reporting the truth and giving New England the information it needs and they follow through daily with the stories that matter. The only thing the Globe needs to do is to find a way to enhance their newspaper with the different forms of media they can use online, especially video, something almost entirely absent from the website.

For itself and audience, the Globe needs to find a way to bridge the gap between their website and the newspaper.