From Comcast SportsNetBOSTON (AP) -- John Farrell sat in the visitors' dugout at Fenway Park as talk intensified that he might be working in the other dugout next year.The Toronto manager looked up at two dozen reporters a month ago and told them that as Boston's pitching coach for four years under Terry Francona he learned an important lesson: think of the players first in making managerial decisions.If you do that, he said, "you probably are guided in the right direction to do the right thing."Since that session before the opener of the Blue Jays' three-game sweep of the Red Sox, Bobby Valentine has been fired as Boston's manager and Farrell has emerged as the leading candidate to take over. But he has a year left on his contract and the Red Sox would have to discuss compensation with the Blue Jays to make him available.Valentine didn't always make the players his top priority before he was fired on Thursday after going 69-93 in his only season, Boston's worst record in nearly 50 years.He said in April that Kevin Youkilis wasn't as physically or emotionally into the game as he had been, kept Jon Lester in a game long enough to allow 11 runs and said as the miserable season kept getting worse that the Red Sox had "the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball."Valentine's predecessor, Francona, rarely criticized players in public. Management likely is looking for the same from Valentine's successor.That's not the only difference in this year's managerial search from last year's, when Valentine wasn't hired until Dec. 1. That was 64 days after Boston's last game and 62 after Francona was let go."I'd prefer to have it done in less time," general manager Ben Cherington said of the current search, but it's more important to get the right person.The Red Sox likely will look for a person with different attributes this time than they did during last year's search, especially with a younger roster after the team traded high-priced, underperforming veterans Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August."The team is in a different point than it was last year when we hired Bobby," Cherington said. "The roster was fairly mature and we felt, mistakenly in retrospect, but we felt at the time, that we had a chance to win and the team was ready to win and we're now at a different point."But he refuted the suggestion that the Red Sox aren't ready to win next season."To be elite again we needed to make more than cosmetic changes," Cherington said. "So now we're very early in the process of doing that and we're going to work our tails off to put the best team we can out there in 2013 and build the next great Red Sox team. We don't know exactly when that will come to fruition."Others who could be candidates for the job are Cleveland interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr., Detroit third-base coach Gene Lamont and Toronto first-base coach Torey Lovullo, a former manager of the Red Sox Triple-A team at Pawtucket. All were interviewed by the Red Sox last year before Valentine was hired.Boston bench coach Tim Bogar and Baltimore third-base coach DeMarlo Hale, Francona's former bench coach, also could be considered.The Red Sox wanted to talk with Farrell last year but were rebuffed. The Blue Jays may be more willing after his second losing season in his two years in Toronto.Farrell was Boston's pitching coach from 2007, when the Red Sox won the World Series, to 2010 and helped Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz develop into productive pitchers. He's also familiar with many veterans and minor leaguers in the Red Sox system.And, as Cleveland's director of player development from November 2001 to the end of the 2006 season, he worked with current Boston assistant general manager Mike Hazen, who held scouting and player development positions with the Indians from 2001 to 2005.Farrell also worked with many current members of Red Sox management."Not only are they professional colleagues, on some level they became personal friends and we had success," he said on Sept. 7 as he sat in the third-base dugout. "We shared a lot of challenges along the way."That familiarity would make him a much safer choice than Valentine. Cherington preferred Dale Sveum, who ended up as manager of the Chicago Cubs.Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, a strong backer of Valentine when he was hired, said on Thursday, "as well as you may know someone casually or through the interview process, you get to know them better when you have a full season together. So, of course, (there were) some surprises, positive and negative surprises."The Red Sox would like fewer surprises and more stability from their next manager."I don't think there's a certain resume or background" necessary, Cherington said. "These jobs bring all sorts of challenges. There's a person who's right for the Red Sox job in 2013 who isn't right for another team's job or who might not have been right for our job last year or the year before."Farrell may be the right person this time, if the Blue Jays let him go to a team with a larger and more demanding group of fans and media contingent."Having worked in Boston," he said a month ago, "there's a tremendous fan base that is very passionate. The expectations are always very high, but, as a competitor, that's what you aspire to do."
The Caps will look to build on Saturday’s strong performance vs. Minnesota when Johnny Gaudreau and the Flames come calling Monday night at Capital One Arena.
Here’s how Washington is expected to line up:
Stephenson – Backstrom – Oshie
Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Smith-Pelly
Vrana – Eller – Wilson
Connolly – Beagle – Chiasson
Orpik – Carlson
Orlov – Niskanen
Chorney – Bowey
So, yeah, no changes up front or on the backend.
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Now for some notes, quotes and observations from the morning skate:
- Braden Holtby (11-4-0/2.56 gaa/.921 Sv%) is expected to start for the Caps. He’s won seven of his last nine starts and his 11 Ws are tied for third most in the NHL. The Flames are expected to start Mike Smith (10-6-0/2.70 gaa/.919 Sv%).
#Flames projected line-up vs. #Capitals:— Derek Wills (@Fan960Wills) November 20, 2017
- Including their win over Philipp Grubauer and Caps on Oct. 29, the Flames have won six of eight games to move into third place in the Pacific Division.
- Leading the way for the Flames is Johnny Gaudreau, who has six goals and 10 assists during in the Flames’ last eight games. Gaudreau will likely match up against the Nicklas Backstrom line. Here’s what T.J. Oshie had to say about facing Gaudreau (it comes after he addresses the power play, which I’ll get to in a second.)
“Nicky and Kuzy are getting more and more comfortable w/ each other...” —T.J. Oshie on the #Caps’ power play, which has 6 goals the last 5 games. (He also discusses matching up w/ a red hot Johnny Gaudreau.) pic.twitter.com/e0lU97Eocu— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikNBCS) November 20, 2017
- One thing that’s been pretty consistent for the Caps over the past couple of weeks has been the power play. After a bit of a dry spell, the unit has been (finally) getting some opportunities—and it’s been cashing in. Over the last five games, in fact, the power play has scored six times on 22 opportunities. Oshie has three of those goals, while Kuznetsov has chipped in with a pair.
- The Flames, by the way, have the NHL’s worst penalty kill at 70.6-percent.
- The Caps will be going for their sixth straight win at home against Calgary. In the previous five games on F Street, they’ve outscored their opponents by a combined 16-8.
- Since Matt Niskanen returned to the lineup vs. the Predators, John Carlson’s ice time has come down to a more manageable figure. Carlson had been leading the league at 27:20 prior to No. 2’s return. Over the past three games, however, he’s skated 25:26, 24:53 and 24:55.
- Game day skates typically begin around 10:15 when the Caps are at home. Sometimes scratches, the goalies and players toward the bottom of the lineup go out early to get a little extra work. On Monday, star center Evgeny Kuznetsov was on the ice at least 15 minutes early, working one-on-one with Trotz. Kuznetsov has five goals on the season but none at even strength in 11 games.
About 15 minutes before the morning skate begins, Kuznetsov is on the ice working with Trotz. Ovechkin, meantime, is at the end getting extra work vs. Grubauer. pic.twitter.com/OCAkeMjY6P— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikNBCS) November 20, 2017
- Defenseman Christian Djoos hasn’t been on the ice since suffering an upper body injury in Nashville. Trotz did, however, say that the rookie is feeling better and starting to ramp up his level of activity. The coach also said he’s hopeful to see Djoos on the ice this week.
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NEW ORLEANS — Collectively, the Redskins squandered a great road win on Sunday.
The team coughed up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, and allowed Drew Brees and the Saints to pull off an incredible, unbelievable comeback win.
The Redskins deserve the blame. The players and coaches. But they're not alone.
The referees made a terrible intentional grounding call late in the fourth quarter that cost the Redskins precious time and real estate.
Kirk Cousins very obviously threw the ball away to stop the clock, and the quarterback was very obviously not under duress from the Saints pass rush.
In no fashion was the throw grounds for a flag.
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Yet, the refs penalized Cousins and the Redskins. As much as replay bogs down the sport, Jay Gruden had no recourse, the flag could not be challenged, and the 'Skins were thrust out of field goal position.
Late Sunday night, a report showed that NFL officials contacted Redskins team president Bruce Allen to say the call was wrong. Whoop de do. That means nothing, and Cousins knows it.
"Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.," Cousins said Monday speaking on 106.7 the Fan.
And he's right.
"This is our careers, this is our livelihood," Cousins said. "It is frustrating when a letter is really all you get when it has such a major impact on the direction of our lives."
Cousins' future, Gruden's future, countless other players and coaches, they don't get to hang a sign that says, "The NFL blew a call."
For the third straight offseason, Cousins will be without a contract, and a long-term deal remains anything but certain. This loss, and that call, could impact those contract talks.
This loss, and that call, could impact coaching changes or draft strategy too. By dropping to 4-6, the Redskins seem unlikely to push for a playoff spot now. Might the organization think differently of their franchise QB if the team fails to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons? Sure, that could definitely happen. Should it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? It could.
Don't misunderstand: The Redskins blew a 15-point lead in three minutes. That's abysmal. That's absurd. One penalty flag didn't change that.
But it was a huge penalty, and it was a terrible call.
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Cousins played nearly flawless in New Orleans, connecting for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards. His most important pass, however, was one that was harmlessly into the ground, with no intended receiver.
"I'm thinking, well [Jamison] Crowder and [Josh] Doctson are over there. If I literally throw it over their heads, they're in the area, they're eligible receivers. Not to mention, if I'm not under pressure, it's not intentional grounding," Cousins said.
It's not intentional grounding. Cousins knows it. The NFL knows it. But it doesn't matter now.
"The difference between a team that’s patting everybody on the back at the end of the season and a team that everybody gets fired, the difference can be a few plays, it can be a call by a referee," Cousins said. "It's a very fragile thing."
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