From Comcast SportsNetMIAMI (AP) -- Miami reliever Heath Bell was critical of manager Ozzie Guillen in a radio interview Monday, the latest in a series of turbulent comments for the disappointing Marlins to deal with as their season winds down."It's been an interesting year with Ozzie," Bell told Miami station WQAM. "That's pretty much all I'll say about that. It's just been really interesting to have him manage."However, pressed with more questions, Bell kept talking, eventually saying the Marlins need a manager "that everybody respects and looks up to."Bell's struggles were one of the biggest issues for the Marlins this season. He signed a 27 million, three-year contract over the winter, then eventually lost the closer role after a disastrous start to the season, which included an 8.47 ERA after his first 21 appearances with Miami.For the year, Bell has 19 saves in 26 opportunities, with a 5.40 ERA in those games. He has appeared 43 times in non-save situations, going 3-0 with a 5.06 ERA.Bell's seven blown saves were the second-highest total in the majors this season entering Monday. Two players had blown eight opportunities."You know, I stunk in April, plain and simple," Bell said in the interview. "I said I stunk, I worked hard, I busted my butt. I think the second half, I've had a tremendous second half. I'm not closing, I know that. But I just kept my mouth shut because I want to regain what I had, and I feel like I can't do that."Miami was off on Monday. At 66-87, the Marlins are in last in the NL East and have the sixth-worst record in the majors -- a far cry from what the team expected when it went on a spending spree last winter.The Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Bell to contracts worth a combined 191 million. But Bell was a bust as the closer, and the Marlins were plagued by poor hitting, especially in the clutch.Bell said he wants to be back with the Marlins "without a doubt" next season. Bell's ERA since the All-Star break is 3.12. Prior to the break, it was 6.75.His statements came one day after Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria called his former manager, current Atlanta skipper Fredi Gonzalez, "a colossal failure" with the team. Loria was responding to statements Gonzalez made to The Miami Herald, which quoted Gonzalez saying "there's not a manager dead or alive that Jeffrey thinks is good enough."The Marlins will finish with a losing record for the fifth time in the past seven seasons. Their only two winning seasons in that span came under Gonzalez.Guillen is completing the first year in a four-year contract with the club. He said last week that he is not worried about where he'll work next season."That's the last thing going through my mind every day, if I'm going to have a job next year," Guillen said Friday in New York, before a series where the Marlins were swept by the Mets. "I'm going to have a job. I don't know if it's managing the Marlins, but I will have a job. I don't know if it's managing in the big leagues, but I will have a job."The Marlins are wrapping up their first season in a 634 million retractable-roof ballpark in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. The season started coming apart when Guillen was suspended for five games in April following comments praising Cuban leader Fidel Castro, infuriating the Miami-area Cuban community."Things can only get better," Bell said. "They don't always stay bad."
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.”
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."