Capitals

Van Pelt wilts in the clutch

807382.png

Van Pelt wilts in the clutch

There were moments late Sunday afternoon when Bo Van Pelt appeared poised to outduel Tiger Woods in the clutch at Woods own tournament, nonetheless.
But, as it turned out, there would be no dramatic upset.
Woods scored his PGA Tour - leading third victory at the AT&T National, while Van Pelt left Congressional Country Club dejected, knowing he had allowed a rare opportunity slip from his grasp.
Its disappointing, said Van Pelt, whose only Tour victory came three years ago in Milwaukee. I felt when Woods hit it over the green on 16 that I had my opportunity to take advantage.
I felt like on the back nine that if I could just keep putting pressure on him that maybe hed give me an opening, and he did on 16, the 37-year-old Indiana-native added.
But it was Van Pelt who wilted under the pressure on another sweltering afternoon in Bethesda.
He smashed a perfect tee-shot on No. 16, a par-5, driving the ball 345 yards down the middle of the fairway. Woods drive, meantime, found the rough.
Van Pelt, however, couldnt cash in. Swinging a 6-iron on his second shot, his ball landed in the rough along a left side bunker, forcing him to take a precarious stance in the sand and grip his wedge on the shaft.
The next shot was no better; it traveled merely a matter of yards.
I didnt hit a bad shot with that 6-iron, he explained. I just ended up in a really tough spot and didnt get the ball on the green. Obviously, if I get the ball on the green there and make 5, who knows.
Both Van Pelt and Woods scored bogeys on what had been the tournaments easiest hole, adding to the tension as they headed to the final two holes, still knotted at 8-under par.
Then Van Pelt then gave it away.
His second shot on the par-4 No. 17 flew over the green and landed down a steep slope. His third shot sailed past the green, too, settling in the first cut.
Two putts later, Van Pelt was at 7-under and found himself trailing Woods for the first time since No. 11.
After challenging the worlds No. 4-ranked golfer hole-for-hole for much of the afternoon, Van Pelt finished the round with three consecutive bogeys and eager for a week away from the links. Ill be disappointed for a while, probably on my flight home tonight and about two hours tomorrow driving up to my boat, he said, asked how long he would be haunted by the blown opportunity. Then, once I get on that boat for the rest of the week, I probably wont think about it much.

Quick Links

Penalties doom Caps in 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers

ap_17295092837095.jpg

Penalties doom Caps in 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers

Christian Djoos scored his second goal of the season, but it wasn’t enough for the turnover and penalty prone Caps, who surrendered the game’s first three goals and fell, 4-1, to the Panthers at Capital One Arena.

Two of Florida's goals came on the power play as the Caps formed a single file line to the penalty box. In fact, they were assessed six minors in the opening 33 minutes of the game—the second in two nights for both clubs.

My three stars of the game.

1-Vincent Trocheck

The 24-year-old second line center finished with a goal and an assist to help the Panthers earn just their third win in their last 14 visits to Washington. Trocheck’s second period strike—on a 5-on-3 power play with Lars Eller and Nicklas Backstrom both in the box—put Florida ahead 3-0.  

2-Christian Djoos

The rookie Dman potted his second goal of the season at 15:23 of the middle frame with the type of nice, patient move you’d expect from a veteran. He walked the puck off the wall through the circle and into the slot before sniping a shot past Reimer’s glove. Djoos—who was saluted by the fans with a ‘Djoooooooooos’—is the only Caps’ blue liner to score this season.

3-James Reimer

Although the Caps didn’t have many Grade-A opportunities, they did make Reimer put in a full day’s work. The 29-year-old stopped 41 shots, including all 13 he faced in a frantic third period as Washington pushed to pull closer. Reimer, who will assume No. 1 duties while starter Roberto Luongo recovers from a hand injury suffered Friday, came into the night with a .880 save percentage and a 4.12 goals against average. 

 Do you agree? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

Quick Links

JJ vs. the fans: Can the Caps' defense keep it going?

usatsi_10004394.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

JJ vs. the fans: Can the Caps' defense keep it going?

It’s a busy hockey weekend for the Caps. After a 4-3 win in Detroit on Friday, Washington returns to Capital One Arena for the quick turnaround against the Florida Panthers (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Washington).

Let’s get bold and make some predictions!

RELATED: HOW DID OVECHKIN GET SO WIDE OPEN IN OVERTIME?

Fan predictions:

Let’s simplify this one to say Alex Ovechkin will score at least twice. A very bold prediction even for a player already with 10 goals in just eight games.

The Capitals’ defense is a concern, but the past two games give hope that perhaps the team has turned things around. After holding Toronto to only one goal plus an empty-netter, they followed that up with a fairly solid effort allowing three goals to the Red Wings on the road in Detroit. With this game in Washington, the Caps will get the second line change, but they also will be going up against a Florida team scoring 3.33 goals per game, tied for ninth in the NHL.

Yes, Lisa. Yes it is. Love it.

MORE CAPITALS: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-PANTHERS

JJ’s predictions:

The Caps will score at least two power play goals

The Panthers are dead last in the league on the penalty kill with a paltry 68-percent. Penalties matter a lot in today’s NHL with referees calling penalties for…pretty much anything. The Caps will get their opportunities and they will make them count.

There will be a fight

Roberto Luongo was injured in Friday’s game, the Panthers are on the road playing the second leg of a back-to-back and have won only two of their first six games. Tempers will flare at some point Saturday. Whether it is because someone gets too close to goalie James Reimer, there’s a hit they don’t like or they are just plain grumpy, someone on Florida is going to want to drop the gloves and will find a willing partner in red.

Philipp Grubauer will log a save percentage of over .900

Grubauer established himself as one of the top backup netminders in the league and a possible budding starter with a dominant 2.04 GAA and .926 save percentage last season. In two games this season, Grubauer has posted save percentages of .900 and .784. He will look a lot more like last season’s Grubauer against Florida.

Season results:

Fans
Correct: 0
Wrong: 5
Push: 1

JJ
Correct: 2
Wrong: 4
Push: 0

Want to see your tweet among the fan predictions for the next game? Tweet your prediction to @JJReganNBCS every game day! Remember, we don’t just want to know who will win or the score, we want to see specifics. Be bold!