Capitals

Notre Dame TE Eifert drawing opponents' interest

Notre Dame TE Eifert drawing opponents' interest

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert has had to work a lot harder this year to accomplish a lot less personally, discovering that being the best receiver on the field draws a lot more attention.

Defenders are double teaming him and forcing him out of his routes, making it harder to be as productive as last season when he set the school record for catches by a tight end with 63. He was held without a catch against Michigan State, had just one against Michigan and two against Miami, a span where sometimes his contribution came as more of a blocker than a receiver.

The soft-spoken senior from Fort Wayne doesn't let it faze him, though. After mulling a decision to turn pro after last season, he's just happy to be part of the unbeaten fifth-ranked Fighting Irish (6-0) as they prepare to play Brigham Young (4-3) on Saturday.

``It's just nice to be winning,'' he said. ``I'd rather come back and be winning than losing. But either way I would have been happy to be back.''

The Irish could use a big game by Eifert against the Cougars, who rank third in the country in rushing defense at 68 yards a game.

Eifert hasn't let the lack of production frustrate him, saying it simply isn't his style. He said he learned that last season from watching receiver Michael Floyd, a first-round draft pick with the Arizona Cardinals. That's when Floyd was the focus of opposing defenses and Eifert flourished from being the guy who was getting single-coverage.

``You just keep playing. It's a long game. Be patient,'' Eifert said.

Linebacker Manti Te'o said his teammates notice Eifert's work ethic and lack of selfishness.

``He hasn't had the kind of receptions and numbers that he would like, but you never would see Tyler complaining. As long as we're winning, he's happy,'' Te'o said. ``He leads by example. He leads by his work ethic, and just really, really doing his best to ensure that our team wins.''

While the number of catches he is making this season has dropped, the plays he is making have been big. Eifert has only 15 catches this season, yet 10 of those have been for first downs or touchdowns.

Against Stanford, Eifert tied the score at 10-10 on the first play of the fourth-quarter with a 24-yard TD reception on third-and-18 where he used his 6-foot-6 height to get above a pair of 6-1 Stanford defenders to catch the pass from Everett Golson. His only reception against Michigan was a 38-yard catch on a third-and-4 that allowed Notre Dame to run out the clock and make sure Michigan, which had won three straight games in the final 27 seconds, didn't get a chance for a comeback.

He also had four catches for a career-high 98 yards in a victory over Purdue, where his father was a former basketball standout.

Coach Brian Kelly said he's enjoyed watching Eifert develop from being a quiet player who sat in the back of the room into one of the best players on the team who sits up front and is a leader.

``You know you're moving your program along when your best players are your best workers,'' Kelly said.

Eifert continues a growing list of standout tight ends at Notre Dame that includes former second-round draft picks Anthony Fasano and John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph in the past seven years.

If Eifert can raise his productivity a bit he can break the school record of 128 career receptions by a tight end set by Ken MacAfee from 1974-77. Eifert has 105 career catches now.

``That would be pretty amazing when you really think about it,'' he said.

Quick Links

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

usatsi_10635144.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came at the 2:30 mark of the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby. On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life. The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.

Quick Links

Wizards set to have Tim Frazier back against Cavs after nasal fracture surgery

usatsi_10601123.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Wizards set to have Tim Frazier back against Cavs after nasal fracture surgery

The All-Star break came at a good time for Wizards point guard Tim Frazier, who missed their last game before the week off due to nasal fracture surgery.

Frazier was back at the Wizards' practice on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena and expects to play on Thursday when the team returns to action on the road at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I feel good. I feel like I can go out there and help them compete," he said.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Frazier, 27, had surgery to repair his broken nose on Feb. 11 after he was knocked out of the previous night's game between the Wizards and Bulls. Frazier collided face-first with the knee of Bobby Portis and was immediately ushered to the locker room with blood streaming from his nose.

Following the procedure, Frazier had to battle through pain and breathing issues. He feels much better now and had no complications after participating in a full practice.

The challenge now is adjusting to a fitted mask he will have to wear to return to the court. Frazier has never had to wear a mask before in his basketball career.

"[Sweat] was one of the issues today, trying to keep it dry when I'm sweating underneath," he said.

"He looked good," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought he would be a little uncomfortable with it, but he seemed fine."

RELATED: WIZARDS HAVE BIG QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN SECOND HALF

Frazier has been given advice from the Wizards' training staff, as well as teammate Bradley Beal who has had to wear a mask twice before in his career.

"Brad said that after a while you get used to it. Nobody wants to wear it for the rest of their careers besides Rip Hamilton," Frazier said.

Getting Frazier back is significant for the Wizards, who are already down a point guard with John Wall rehabbing from left knee surgery. Without Frazier against the Knicks on Wednesday, the Wizards had to use Beal and Otto Porter to bring the ball up at times. Now, with Tomas Satoransky and Frazier, they have a starting point guard and a backup who is used to playing the position.

They could have three point guards, as the Wizards continue to weigh their options in free agency. They have to add a player within the next two days to meet the league's minimum roster requirement. Most of the free agents they have evaluated have been point guards as they aim to compensate for Wall's absence, which could last well into the month of March.

RELATED: 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT HAS LOADED CLASS