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Rangers win longest game of NHL playoffs

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Rangers win longest game of NHL playoffs

From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- Henrik Lundqvist had just spent the better part of 4 hours repelling pucks and shooing skaters from the crease in the pressure-packed situation known as the Stanley Cup playoffs.When it was all over, after the calendar moved from Wednesday to Thursday and the New York Rangers had defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 in three overtimes, Lundqvist was absolutely drained."I think my entire body is just tired right now," said Lundqvist, who stopped 45 shots to help New York take a 2-1 lead in the series. "I just want to lay down and relax and get a message. My neck is hurting."Marian Gaborik scored at 14:41 of the third overtime to help the Eastern Conference's regular-season champs grab back home-ice advantage from the seventh-seeded Capitals.Brad Richards sent a pass from the backboards toward Gaborik, who ended the marathon by sliding the puck between the pads of rookie goaltender Braden Holtby."When you get into that many hours of playing, it becomes a mental game," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "I felt if the game got longer and longer, our team was at an advantage. We have a mentally tough group. Just not giving in -- that's the key."It was Gaborik's first goal since New York's first playoff game against Ottawa, snapping an eight-game drought."I hope it gets Gabby going," Tortorella said. "He's a guy we need as we continue."Holtby stopped 47 shots for the Capitals, but the last one got away."You just try to play every period the same," he said. "Once you start putting more pressure on yourself because it's overtime, that's when bad things start to happen. The game started to open up in the third overtime, but it happens."Early in the third overtime, Washington killed a New York power play to keep the suspense going.The game started at 7:40 p.m. and stretched into the next day, ending at 12:14 a.m. Thursday. There will be a two-day break before the teams meet for Game 4 on Saturday in Washington.Asked if this game was a series-turner, Tortorella said, "The impact is we're up a game. They have to win three, we have to win two. The guys should feel good about themselves as far as what they went through. They didn't give in and found a way. Now we go about our business."It was yet another low scoring, extremely tight game for the Capitals. Nine of Washington's 10 playoff games have been decided by one goal; the exception was New York's 3-1 win in the series opener.John Carlson got a second-period goal for the Capitals, 2-3 in overtime this postseason. Ryan Callahan scored in the second period to make it 1-0 for New York, which improved to 1-2 in overtime during these playoffs.Washington star Alex Ovechkin, who logged only 13 minutes of ice time in the Capitals' 3-2 victory Monday in Game 2 in New York, finished with 20 minutes in regulation. He had 6 minutes in the first period, compared to 3 in Game 2. After two periods, his 14:49 of ice time was the most on the team.The difference was that in the previous game, Washington bolted to a 2-0 lead and didn't need the offense that Ovechkin is capable of providing. Despite his extended play in regulation, he was used very sparingly during overtime.Tortorella, in contrast, milked more than 40 minutes apiece out of defensemen Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh before the game entered the third overtime.Early in the first extra period, Washington's Troy Brouwer got a pass in front of the net and inexplicably shot the puck wide. At the 15-minute mark, Ovechkin gathered in a turnover by Anton Stralman, moved in with a bouncing puck and drilled a shot off the right post.The goal horn sounded, and many in the sellout crowd stood and cheered. But a replay showed the puck never entered the net.Washington successfully killed a New York power play in the final minutes of the first extra session.Fatigue became a factor in the second overtime, as the teams combined for 13 shots.The Rangers had a chance to take the lead late in regulation when Mike Knuble was called for goaltender interference at 14:25 of the third period, even though he received a nudge from both Brian Boyle and McDonagh as he crashed into Lundqvist. New York failed to get off a shot, and with 13 seconds left on the man advantage, Richards was called for tripping.Washington didn't get off a shot on its power play, either.The Capitals outshot New York 13-10 during a scoreless first period in which Washington had the lone power play. Lundqvist denied Marcus Johansson on a shot from the low end of the right circle with just over 13 minutes elapsed, and seconds later Ovechkin was leveled by Staal after unleashing a wrist shot from the left circle.New York's first power play provided the game's initial goal. With Brooks Laich off for hooking, Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto took a shot from the left circle that hit Carlson and Washington's Matt Hendricks. Callahan was in position to sweep the bouncing puck into the right side of the net.Washington killed 27 of 30 penalties in the postseason before Callahan's goal. It was bad omen for the Capitals, who were 5-1 in the playoffs when scoring first and 0-3 when falling behind 1-0.Carlson tied it at 11:10, deftly skating from left to right around three Rangers in the New York zone before launching a wrist shot that whizzed past Lundqvist's right shoulder into the top of the net. Stralman got caught up ice, and Carlson skated around Gaborik to get free.NOTES:Visiting teams are 13-6 in overtime this postseason. ... Rangers C Brandon Dubinsky was scratched for a third straight game with an unspecified injury. ... Washington had won five straight home playoff games against the Rangers, dating to 2009 and including last season. ... It was the third-longest game in Capitals history and the fifth-longest for the Rangers.

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

The day after Kris Bryant suggested that first-time fatherhood and the dramatic reality of world events have changed how he looks at his future with the Cubs, general manager Jed Hoyer outlined why it might be all but moot.

Setting aside the fact that the Cubs aren’t focusing on contract extensions with anyone at this time of health and economic turmoil, the volatility and unpredictability of a raging COVID-19 pandemic in this country and its economic fallout have thrown even mid-range and long-term roster plans into chaos.

“This is without question the most difficult time we’ve ever had as far as projecting those things,” Hoyer said. “All season in projecting this year, you weren’t sure how many games we were going to get in. Projecting next season obviously has challenges, and who knows where the country’s going to be and the economy’s going to be.”

Bryant, a three-time All-Star and former MVP, is eligible for free agency after next season. He and the club have not engaged in extension talks for three years. And those gained little traction while it has looked increasingly likely since then that Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, would eventually take his star client to market — making Bryant a widely circulated name in trade talks all winter.

MORE: Scott Boras: Why Kris Bryant's free agency won't be impacted by economic crisis

The Cubs instead focused last winter on talks with All-Star shortstop Javy Báez, making “good” or little progress depending on which side you talked to on a given day — until the pandemic shut down everything in March.

Báez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber are both also eligible for free agency after next season, with All-Star catcher Willson Contreras right behind them a year later.

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None has a multiyear contract, and exactly what the Cubs are willing to do about that even if MLB pulls off its 60-game plan this year is hard for even the team’s front office executives to know without knowing how hard the pandemic will continue to hammer America’s health and financial well-being into the winter and next year.

Even with a vaccine and treatments by then, what will job markets look like? The economy at large? The economy of sports? Will anyone want to gather with 40,000 others in a stadium to watch a game anytime soon?

And even if anyone could answer all those questions, who can be sure how the domino effect will impact salary markets for athletes?

“There’s no doubt that forecasting going forward is now much more challenging from a financial standpoint,” Hoyer said. “But that’s league-wide. Anyone that says they have a feel for where the nation’s economy and where the pandemic is come next April is lying.”

The Cubs front office already was in a tenuous place financially, its payroll budget stretched past its limit and a threat to exceed MLB’s luxury tax threshold for a second consecutive season.

And after a quick playoff exit in 2018 followed by the disappointment of missing the playoffs in 2019, every player on the roster was in play for a possible trade over the winter — and even more so at this season’s trade deadline without a strong start to the season.

Now what?

For starters, forget about dumping short-term assets or big contracts for anything of value from somebody’s farm system. Even if baseball can get to this year’s Aug. 31 trade deadline with a league intact and playing, nobody is predicting more than small level trades at that point — certainly not anything close to a blockbuster.

After that, it may not get any clearer for the sport in general, much less the Cubs with their roster and contract dilemmas.

“We have a lot of conversations about it internally, both within the baseball side and then with the business side as well,” Hoyer said. “But it’s going to take a long time and probably some sort of macro things happening for us to really have a good feel for where we’re going to be in ’21 and beyond.”

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Cubs' GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Cubs' GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Veteran umpire Joe West made waves Tuesday downplaying the severity of COVID-19 in an interview with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. 

“I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus," West said. "I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths.”

As far as the Cubs are concerned, those comments don’t represent how to treat the virus. In fact, they’ve gone out of their way to ensure everyone treats it with equal severity.

“That’s one of the things we've really tried internally to instill in our players and our coaches,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday, “[that] everyone here has to take it equally [serious].”

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Hoyer noted like the world, MLB isn’t immune to people having different viewpoints on the virus — those who show concern and those who don’t. This echoes comments made by manager David Ross earlier on Tuesday, and Hoyer said those he’s talked to with the Cubs don’t feel the same way as West.

The Cubs had an up close and personal look at pitching coach Tommy Hottovy’s battle with COVID-19 during baseball’s shutdown. It took the 38-year-old former big leaguer 30 harrowing days to test negative, and in the past week many Cubs have said watching him go through that hit home. 

“When you get a 38-year-old guy in wonderful health and he talks about his challenges with it,” Hoyer said, “I think that it takes away some of those different viewpoints.”

To ensure everyone stays safe and puts the league in the best position to complete a season, MLB needs strict adherence to its protocols.

“I think that's one of our goals and one of the things that we feel is vital is that we have to make sure everyone views this the same way, because we can't have a subset of people within our group that don't view it with the same severity,” Hoyer said.

“That’s not gonna work. We're not gonna be successful."

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