Capitals

LSU hungry for redemption in rematch with Alabama

201210272119767704758-p2.jpeg

LSU hungry for redemption in rematch with Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) LSU will be seeking redemption in the latest colossal clash with fellow SEC West power Alabama.

Sure, there's the standard matter of national and Southeastern Conference title prospects. The loser, after all, can't count on a rematch in Miami for a do-over like the top-ranked Crimson Tide got last season.

The fifth-ranked Tigers say they are taking even more motivation from that 21-0 BCS championship shutout in January when Alabama comes calling Saturday night with the stakes at their usual heights.

``There are a lot of scars from that national championship game,'' LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan said. ``You will see it on the field. The loss in the national championship game had a big impact on us. Going into last season, we had set goals like winning the national championship. Bama took that from us. They took that national championship ring. We want to show the world that we have bounced back from that loss.''

Chances are the world will be watching, or at least a sizable chunk of college football fans. Last year's initial 1 vs. 2 matchup brought CBS its highest ratings for a college football game since Notre Dame-Miami in 1989. The network will air it in primetime instead of its normal afternoon slot after working out a deal with ESPN.

It's not drawing ``Game of the Century'' billing like the meeting 363 days before, which LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo called ``one of the fiercest games I've played in.'' Game of the year is certainly possible.

That 9-6 overtime loss last season cost Alabama (8-0, 5-0) the SEC West, and maybe SEC, title if not the biggest prize.

Even the Tide is manufacturing a little redemption storyline for Round 3.

``LSU is the SEC championship team or whatever, and not us, we're just the national championship team,'' Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood said on Monday. ``And that's one of our goals, to be the SEC championship team.''

``To me, I like to fulfill all my goals, and that's one we didn't, so it's motivation for us.''

Mostly, Alabama players insist they're not getting caught up in the hype and they're treating it as just another game, etc.

Clearly, it's not, however. The teams have a combined three losses the past two seasons, and two of them were head-to-head.

Tide coach Nick Saban said his players got a little too amped up by all the hype before last season's regular season meeting when both teams had an open date to let the emotions simmer. It's not his preferred recipe.

``When you play in games like this, everybody would say it's really critical you play your best in a game like this,'' Saban said. ``But the formula and the recipe for what that is doesn't really change. Even though you'd like to change it, and put a little more sugar in the cake to make it taste better, it usually makes it taste worse.

``We have to stay with the formula that helps our players take care of business the best way they can.''

Both teams employ similar formulas: Stout defense and strong running games and quarterbacks who try to avoid mistakes.

The Tigers have been more tested. This is their fourth straight game against a ranked team, starting with a loss at No. 8 Florida.

Alabama is coming off its only victory over a team currently in the Top 25, 38-7 over No. 17 Mississippi State

It just so happens LSU was off last weekend, so coach Les Miles got to watch that game from start to finish. He came away impressed.

``I watched every snap of the Alabama-Mississippi State game Saturday,'' Miles said. ``It looked just as bad on the coach's copy. That Alabama team is pretty good. They look like the No. 1 team in the country. Coach Saban has done a great job there. Their team is deserving to be the No. 1 team in the country. I look forward to playing that team.

``We need to play for ourselves. We need to play better because we didn't'' in January.

Players from both sides used the word ``hate'' to describe feelings among the fans, especially in Baton Rouge.

``I'm pretty sure they hate us because of what happened last year and stuff like that,'' Norwood said.

LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, who is from Georgia, said he was surprised by how much ``people hate Bama down here.''

``Being around the students and the fans, there is real genuine hate,'' Minter said. ``All the fans worry about is us winning that game.''

Quick Links

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

RELATED LINKS: 

Quick Links

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

RELATED LINKS: