Capitals

Long in 'research' phase in new Ark. coach search

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Long in 'research' phase in new Ark. coach search

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long wants a football coach with ``discipline and accountability.'' Someone with ``honesty and integrity on and off the field.''

And he would like that coach in place within two weeks of the end of the regular season, which wraps up Nov. 23 when No. 6 LSU visits Fayetteville. Will that person be John L. Smith, the interim coach whose team is 3-4 and is getting headlines for his $40.7 million personal bankruptcy?

Long reiterated Monday that Smith, despite his 10-month contract, is a candidate for the job but said it would be apparent at the end of the season whether Smith is his choice for the future. And he said the program is in better shape than it might have been after the firing of coach Bobby Petrino in April and a 1-4 start that ruined any hopes for a run at an SEC or even national title.

``Not one player left our program,'' Long said. ``I think they believe in the program that we're running.''

Long hired Smith as interim coach for $850,000 to handle the team for the season, even though Smith is going through a $40.7 million personal bankruptcy over land deals that collapsed in Kentucky. Addressing the Touchdown Club in Little Rock, Long told an audience of Razorback fans that he wouldn't discuss coaching candidates but he did lay out some of the elements that will go into the search.

First, Long said he wants to quickly sift through any coaches who are trying to leverage for a raise at their existing schools and that he's looking for a leader who wants to build a national champion and not be intimidated by competing in the Southeastern Conference.

Long said the football program has facilities that will attract top coaches and top athletes, including plans to add a special academic facility for players. Practice and training facilities are being tied together to enable coaches to more efficiently use the practice time allowed by the NCAA.

The Razorbacks have put together a two-game winning streak, beating Auburn and Kentucky, not exactly SEC powers. But Long said the players have adapted to the change not only at head coach but to a new system of assistant coaches as well.

``I think we've seen in the last couple weeks a program that's starting to get better,'' Long said.

Speaking with reporters after his talk, Long said Smith's bankruptcy hasn't been a distraction to the players and that he's unconcerned that Smith has had to devote time to untangling his finances. Smith was in a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Friday, the day before the Kentucky game.

He added that the university structured deferred payments to Smith as it has done with other coaches and that the salary terms had nothing to do with Smith's bankruptcy, which Long said Smith told him may be coming when he interviewed for the job. Petrino was fired after Long learned he had hired his former mistress as a recruiting coordinator and lied about her presence at a motorcycle accident.

Arkansas is off this weekend and next plays Ole Miss in Little Rock on Oct. 27.

Long said the next coach needs to be ready to lift Arkansas to elite status.

``We're going to stand our ground and then we're going to work to get back to where we all know we should be, and that's at the top,'' Long said.

He noted that expectations were high at the start of the season, when the Razorbacks were ranked No. 8.

``Maybe we weren't as good as we thought we were. But now we've kind of refocused ourselves. We're starting to play like we expected to play,'' Long said.

Long didn't mention it but the Razorbacks, were stung by injuries to key players early in the season, including a head injury suffered by starting quarterback Tyler Wilson, who was knocked out of the second half of an overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe and missed the next week's drubbing by No. 1 Alabama.

``Certainly we're not where we expected to be when we started this season. But we're not folding up our tent,'' Long said. ``We stood and we turned this negative into a positive.''

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NHL Power Rankings: A rough week

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Power Rankings: A rough week

The Caps are coming off of one of, if not the worst week of their season. Washington has now lost three of four games and all three of those losses came in devastating fashion.

On Feb. 11, the Caps hosted a scuffling Detroit Red Wings team and saw the Wings build a 4-1 lead in the second period, a period in which the Caps were outshot 17-2. Washington battled back to tie the game, but ultimately lost in overtime. Tuesday in Winnipeg the Caps held a 3-1 lead in the third period, but allowed the Jets to mount a comeback and tie the game with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation before losing in overtime. Then, of course, there was Saturday's 7-1 blowout at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that had lost eight straight coming into that game.

SEE THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

To make matters worse, the Pittsburgh Penguins keep on winning and now hold a one-point lead over Washington. So yeah, things were not great.

The bad news is that, with the recent surges of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and even New Jersey, the Caps have to figure things out fast or they could continue to fall in the standings fairly quickly.

The good news is that they still remain in a relatively good position should they rebound. The Penguins do hold a one-point lead in the standings, but the Caps remain very much in the driver's seat of the division with three games in hand.

Four games separate Washington from the Feb. 26 trade deadline. The Caps will play in Buffalo, host Tampa Bay, play in Florida and host Buffalo. Winning three of those four games, especially if they can beat the dominant Lightning, will go a long way towards putting last week in the rearview mirror. Another tough week, however, could force the hand of general manager Brian MacLellan to make an unanticipated move at the trade deadline in order to keep a playoff season from falling apart.

After a week like that, it's no surprise to see Washington fall in this week's NHL Power Rankings. You can see the full rankings here.

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Game 59: Capitals at Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 59: Capitals at Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, N.Y.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

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

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

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (33-18-7) take on the Sabres (17-31-11) Monday, February 19 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Buffalo.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 7:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals at Sabres
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
7:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

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

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres 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
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Sabres 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.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-SABRES 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.