Capitals

Broncos, Peyton Manning await battered Browns

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Broncos, Peyton Manning await battered Browns

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Preparing to play Peyton Manning was challenging enough for the Cleveland Browns even before losing three more starters.

Coach Pat Shurmur said Friday that wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, tight end Jordan Cameron and defensive back Tashaun Gipson will not travel to Denver to play the Broncos (11-3).

With playoff hopes dashed and a losing season assured, the Browns (5-9) will try to halt Denver's nine-game winning streak. Going in with a depleted defense isn't the best way.

``It's definitely not what you hope for, but it seems like it's been that way all year,'' linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. ``We lost Chris (Gocong) and Scott (Fujita) early and stuff piles up. Some of these young guys have played here and there and now they will get a full test. We believe in them.''

But how much faith is reasonable against the top-rated quarterback in the AFC this year. The big year has brought Manning's career totals to 152 wins, 430 touchdowns and nearly 59,000 yards passing.

``You don't sleep well the night before,'' veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown said. ``You have to understand you are going to give up plays against him. You've got to make sure you make the tackles so you can live to see another down.''

A week ago, rookie Kirk Cousins shook off an early interception by Cleveland's T.J. Ward to lead Washington past the Browns in his first career start.

Now, Ward and replacement Gipson along with starting linebacker James-Michael Johnson are out. Veteran cornerback Dmitri Patterson was released after the loss to Washington, too.

``We've got to put together a plan,'' Shurmur had said earlier in the week before the injuries continued to mount. ``We have to go play fast, aggressive.''

Eric Hagg will start at free safety, with Usama Young shifting to Ward's strong safety spot. Hagg had a season-high seven tackles in a win at Oakland on Dec. 2, but was inactive the past two weeks.

``I think he's learned that he can play in this league,'' Shurmur said of Hagg, a seventh-round pick in 2011 from Nebraska.

``He does a good job in coverage. Anytime you play for a while and then you don't play, it gives you a little better view of it while you're watching it. I'm sure he's learned something as he's prepared.''

Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said preparing for the 36-year-old Manning can be frustrating.

``He's effective against almost everything you do,'' Jauron said. ``You will blitz. He reads it awfully quickly like he does most things in football. You've just got to keep mixing it up and then fight for 60 minutes and hope you can get some breaks.

``There are very few teams that have any kind of record against him over the years. He doesn't win every one of them so we'll prepare and go out there and try to play our best game.''

Jackson said putting pressure on Manning would be best, though he pointed out that the Broncos' offensive line knows their primary project is protecting the future Hall of Famer.

``He's not sacked that much because he gets rid of the ball so quickly,'' Jackson said. ``All these years, his linemen know that if Peyton gets time, he's going to do damage.''

The Broncos are running better since Knowshon Moreno became the starter four weeks ago. He has averaged 97.8 yards on the ground since. His production keeps a defensive line from trying to tee off against Manning.

``He's a good runner from the shotgun and he has a feel for finding a hole and he can break a tackle,'' Shurmur said. ``He's a really good fit for them.''

Shurmur hopes that rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden can put together some long scoring drives to take the pressure off Cleveland's defense.

``What's important is scoring points,'' Shurmur said. ``It makes sense for their offense to not be on the field. I'll take it the other way. We can't have a whole bunch of three and outs.''

Shurmur said he hasn't looked past the Broncos or the final game in Pittsburgh, though finding a way to win either game wouldn't hurt his chances of coming back for a third year. Earlier in the week, he reminded players that they are playing for individual pride as well.

``What we owe ourselves and each other is that you prepare as well as you can, you get hydrated, you get on the plane go out and play good football, and try to win.''

Notes: LB Tank Carder, claimed on waivers from Buffalo in September, will make his first career start in place of Johnson. ... WR Josh Cooper will take Massaquoi's place. ... TE Alex Smith missed practice with an undisclosed illness. ... Shurmur hopes DL Frostee Rucker (hip) will play. ... RB Trent Richardson has 11 rushing TDs. One more will give him the most by a Browns player since Hall of Famer Leroy Kelly had 16 in 1968.

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Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

It would have been understandable if Travis Boyd struggled this past week. Something more important was on his mind.

Boyd spent the week in the hospital with his daughter, Hayden, who had been experiencing pain in her throat. He spent the enitre week in the hospital, not leaving until Hershey's game against Laval.

Boyd turned this trial into something incredible as he scored four goals Friday in Hershey's 6-3 win.

Boyd spoke about the ordeal with Zach Fisch of the Bears Radio Network (transcription via RMNB).

“It actually started after the game last Sunday against Rochester," he said. "I went straight from the rink to Urgent Care and then from Urgent Care to the ER. Never left the hospital until Friday morning. We had a successful surgery on Thursday night. Basically just a bad infection in her throat that had to be surgically removed. They had to surgically go in and kind of remove the bacteria and drain out the fluids. Everything went well. She’s doing well.”

Following the game, Boyd dedicated his performance to Hayden.

A four-goal game at the AHL level would have been an incredible accomplishment on its own. The fact that it came during such a trying time for him makes this a truly inspirational story.

You can watch highlights of the game including all four of Boyd's goals here:

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S UPDATED CAPS’ PROSPECT RANKINGS HERE

Other prospect notes:

  • In the Bears' game Friday against Laval, Riley Barber dropped the gloves with Markus Eisenchmid.  Barber was given an extra minor and game misconduct for instigating the fight in the final five minutes of the game. That penalty carries with it an automatic one-game suspension which Barber served Saturday. Here's a look at the fight.

  • Liam O'Brien had a pair of two-goal games over the week, scoring twice against Laval Friday and then two more against Toronto on Monday. Of his four goals, three of them were empty netters.
  • As the Capitals prepare for their Stadium Series game in Annapolis on March 3, Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley—a native of Perth, Australia—made a plea to see Nathan Walker recalled for the game.  “I’ll have to put a quick shout out to the one Australian that’s playing for the Caps now, Nathan Walker. If you could just bring him up for this game, that’d be great. Because an Australian being in a hockey game is like a Jamaican bobsled team. It doesn’t happen very often.”

  • Brian Pinho was honored Friday in Providence College's Senior Night. He has served as captain of the team this season and as an assistant captain in his junior year. He spoke with The Cowl on what being a leader on the team means to him. "I think being a leader of this team is a great honor, but also a huge responsibility. I try to keep everything fun at the rink, while also bringing some intensity and competing hard every day.” You can read the full story here.
  • Goalie Adam Carlson, who was on loan to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL, was reassigned to the Kansas City Mavericks also of the ECHL. He started two games for his new team and turned aside 42 of the 48 total shots he faced.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in his week's updated rankings.

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Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Panthers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Panthers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

The Capitals (34-19-7) take on the Panthers (26-25-6) Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Florida.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Panthers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Panthers
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Panthers game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-PANTHERS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.