Capitals

Dombrowski talks about OF Castellanos' prospects

Dombrowski talks about OF Castellanos' prospects

DETROIT (AP) Dave Dombrowski realizes the offseason is never over until opening day.

That was certainly the case last year, when the Detroit general manager brought slugger Prince Fielder to the Tigers in late January.

This offseason has been quieter in Detroit, but Dombrowski keeps his ears open for possible acquisitions even now, with spring training set to start in a couple of weeks.

``It doesn't change all year long, really. It's one of those things - even when you're away at the holidays, you have a pulse of what's taking place,'' Dombrowski said. ``There's still some players that haven't signed with clubs, and any time there's a move, there's sometimes an extra reaction to that, a chain reaction.''

The Tigers were part of that scenario last year when they learned in mid-January that designated hitter Victor Martinez had a knee injury that would eventually cause him to miss the whole 2012 season. Detroit responded by signing Fielder to a $214 million, nine-year contract. He was introduced at Comerica Park last Jan. 26.

The biggest move the Tigers made this offseason was re-signing one of their own players. They brought right-hander Anibal Sanchez back with a long-term contract. Sanchez's return gives Detroit six potential starting pitchers, but so far none of them has been traded.

Right-hander Rick Porcello and left-hander Drew Smyly are expected to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation if they're both still with the organization when spring training starts.

The Tigers didn't acquire a clear-cut replacement for closer Jose Valverde, who was let go after last season. Bruce Rondon could fill that role after a stellar year in the minors, but he's unproven.

Although Rondon could be a major part of Detroit's bid for a third straight AL Central title, the Tigers can be patient with Nick Castellanos, a 20-year-old outfielder who hit .320 in 134 games at Class A and Double-A last season.

Andy Dirks, Brennan Boesch and Quintin Berry - all left-handed hitters - are expected to compete for the left field spot, but Castellanos and Avisail Garcia swing from the right side and will have a chance to earn playing time.

``We're looking for a right-handed complement,'' Dombrowski said. ``Garcia and Castellanos I think both fall under the same category. They'll come to spring training with an opportunity to make the club, but we're also in a position where if they're going to make the club, they're going to have to play a lot. So we're not going to give them 40 games and a limited number of at-bats.''

Dombrowski spoke briefly with The Associated Press on Monday after appearing as part of a panel discussion at the annual meeting for the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

The Capitals found themselves in deep trouble on Saturday.

Game 5 at Capital One Arena provided Washington a golden opportunity to take a 3-2 lead in their 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. A loss -- another home loss -- would have been a devastating blow.

After battling back from a 2-0 series deficit, to lose in Washington would mean facing elimination in Columbus. Game 5 was the game the Caps needed and it would have slipped away from them if not for Nicklas Backstrom.

The Caps’ most underrated superstar -- the one who is constantly overshadowed by the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby -- took center stage on Saturday as he tipped a Dmitry Orlov shot past Sergei Bobrovsky at 11:53 of overtime to seal the victory for Washington.

“It was just a good shot from [Orlov],” Backstrom said after the game. “I thought before he had a chance to block it, and I got a tip on it, and it’s usually what happens in the playoffs. Tip goals or rebound goals. That’s the way it is. It was nice.”

Backstrom’s overtime goal capped off a three-point night for the veteran center, who also scored in the first period and assisted on a goal from T.J. Oshie.

The team ended up needing every one of his points.

From the start, Columbus outplayed Washington. With the series tied 2-2, a best-of-three mentality took over and the Blue Jackets pushed hard for the pivotal Game 5 win.

It is in those very moments that team needs its superstar players to step up. In Game 3, it was Holtby who stole the show to help Washington steal a win in Columbus.

On Saturday, it was Backstrom.

Columbus converted a shorthanded goal to seize a 1-0 lead in what was shaping up to be a dominant first period. A fluke goal from Backstrom, however, made sure the score was knotted up, 1-1, after the opening frame.

With the puck behind the goal line, Backstrom tried to slip a pass through the crease. Bobrovsky got a piece of the puck with his stick, but the amount of spin on the pass forced the puck to carom off the stick, off the back of Bobrovsky himself, and into the net.

“I was trying to make a pass,” Backstrom said. “Honestly, got lucky. I don’t know who came back-door there but I was trying for him. I’ll take it.”

After a back and forth game, the Blue Jackets came out swinging to start the third. Down 3-2, Columbus tied the game just 2:30 in and made a real push to win the game in regulation. Washington was outshot 16-1 in the third and looked like they had no push at all.

But the Caps looked like a different team when they took the ice for the extra frame. What happened in between periods?

“As I was leaving the room after the period, I could hear guys, the right guys, all saying the right things,” head coach Barry Trotz said.

When later asked if one of those guys was Backstrom, Trotz said, “Absolutely. He's one of the leaders on our team. They were all talking about let's make sure we're doing the right things. There's a lot of pride, lot of good leadership in that room.”

Whatever Backstrom and the other leaders said did the trick. Washington made a strong push in overtime leading to Backstrom’s game-winning goal.

This isn’t the first time Backstrom has delivered. Saturday’s overtime tally is the fourth of his career. That’s the most in franchise history and tied for fifth in NHL history.

Through his efforts on the ice, the Caps were able to erase a bad first period and steal the win in overtime. But it also took a big effort off the ice to get the job done.

“If you just look at the scoresheet, that doesn't say enough of about Nick Backstrom, his contribution from in the dressing room to on the ice to key moments to key faceoffs,” Trotz said.

“I've been on his soapbox about how complete a player he is and I never really worry about Nick Backstrom. He's got enough games under his belt, he's got enough stats to back it up and he's played huge minutes and he's one of our leaders. He's a tremendous hockey player.”

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John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

After losing Game 1 and Game 2 at home, Alex Ovechkin declared "It’s going to be fun when we bounce back and going to tie the series and come back here and play Game 5 at home.”

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella seems to be taking a similar tactic.

The Capitals won Game 5 in overtime on Saturday in a game that could prove to be emotionally draining for the Blue Jackets in a number of ways.

  • It was Washington's third straight win
  • Columbus was the better team for the majority of the game, but still took the loss
  • The Blue Jackets now face elimination despite holding a 2-0 series lead to start and losing only once in regulation

Tortorella has become famous for his fiery postgame press conferences in the past, including abruptly walking out after Game 4's presser when he declared "We sucked" to the media.

Saturday's was another fun one.

In a presser that lasted less than two minutes, Tortorella twice said, "We'll be back here for Game 7."

After such a draining game, Tortorella was asked how he would get them ready for what is sure to be an emotionally charged Game 6.

"I won't have to say a damn word to them," Tortorella said. "No. We'll be back here for Game 7."

The Blue Jackets will have to win Game 6 in Columbus to make that happen.

Barry Trotz was asked for his reaction after Tortorella's comments.

"What else are you going to say? That's good. He wants to get it out there, he believes in his team just as I believe in my team. It's our job for that not to happen."

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