Capitals

Army hosts Boston College looking for that 1st win

201209291236453630121-p2.jpeg

Army hosts Boston College looking for that 1st win

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) It's crunch time for Army.

Four games - and four losses - into the season, the Black Knights cannot afford another when they host Boston College (1-3) on Saturday at Michie Stadium. The triple option has to excel and the defense can't have the letdowns it experienced in the first three games, or else Army will have its first 0-5 start since 2005 and a nine-game losing streak.

Army coach Rich Ellerson says his players are not deterred.

Yet.

``These are not the outcomes they've been visualizing,'' Ellerson said. ``They have to deal with it, put it aside and go forward. If you start worrying about things that happened three weeks ago or what might happen a month from now, there's no chance.''

The Eagles' losses came against Northwestern, Miami and Clemson, who have a combined 13-2 record so far this season - and the Wildcats and Tigers are currently in the AP Top 25.

Although the Eagles have lost two straight, they present a real challenge for the Army defense, which is allowing nearly 475 yards of total offense and more than 38 points per game.

BC's Chase Rettig ranks second in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 11th among all FBS quarterbacks in passing yards per game at 323.

``Their record is a reflection of their schedule,'' Ellerson said of the Eagles. ``This will be the most sophisticated passing attack we've seen so far.''

Rettig is 97 of 170 for 1,292 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, but even a solid performance last week against Clemson - Rettig had 341 yards passing and three touchdowns and wideout Alex Amidon caught eight passes for a career-high 193 yards and two of those scores - wasn't nearly enough in a 45-31 home loss.

``It's all about execution,'' Spaziani said. ``We haven't been able to make the plays that will turn an `L' into a `W.' It's multi-layered. It's just not, `OK, now we're going to do this.' It's a process that has to be done. We're at a point where we need a victory.''

The Black Knights showed signs of improvement defensively last week, holding FCS power Stony Brook to 23 points and registering 11 tackles for loss. That gain was offset by an off day from the high-powered ground attack, which was somewhat stymied after two outstanding outings. Army entered the game as the nation's leading rushing team, averaging 399 yards, and was held to 273 yards on the ground.

The Black Knights also lost four fumbles, giving them 13 in the four losses. Senior quarterback Trent Steelman, the man who makes the option so potent, is still nursing sore ribs and is listed as probable.

``Offensively, if we can execute our offense and take care of the football, we'll create problems for them,'' Ellerson said. ``We're just unique enough that if we operate and do all the things good football teams do, we can be competitive.''

The Black Knights need to be. Time is running out.

``We have people trying to leave the system or do something heroic,'' Ellerson said. ``That is never going to work in our system. The precision has to be right on. It's a painful lesson to learn, so let's hope we're paying attention.''

NOTES: Saturday's game marks the first meeting between Boston College and Army since 2007 and the first at Michie Stadium since 2000 in a series that dates to 1917. ... BC has won five straight against Army, 14 of the last 15, and is 13-10 at Michie Stadium. The Black Knights last defeated the Eagles in 1995, a 49-7 home victory. ... BC linebacker Nick Clancy ranks second in the country in tackles per game at 13.25, just ahead of teammate Kevin Pierre-Louis, who ranks sixth at 11 per game.

---

Follow John Kekis on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/Greek1947

Quick Links

Capitals have been their own worst enemy, and they were again on Friday

Capitals have been their own worst enemy, and they were again on Friday

The Capitals managed to earn a point on Friday in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, but the game felt like a missed opportunity for Washington. After giving up four goals in the first period, seven power plays including two 5-on-3s, and two power play goals, the Caps knew they had no one to blame but themselves for the loss.

“We were still not quite there maybe emotionally,” Lars Eller said.

At least not for the first period. The Caps allowed four goals in the opening 20 minutes to dig themselves into a 4-1 hole. Each goal came from the slot as the Caps had no control over the front of their own net.

“Just tough to start that way, to kind of dig ourselves a big hole,” Brett Connolly said. “Obviously, it’s good to come back and get a point but we don’t need to do that to ourselves. It takes a lot of energy to get back in that game.”

Washington battled back to tie the game at 4, but penalties ultimately derailed their momentum, allowing Florida to retake the lead.

After scoring three straight goals, the Caps took three minor penalties in the final three minutes of the second period.

Alex Ovechkin was called for interference on Aaron Ekblad as he made no attempt to play a loose puck that trickled past the Florida defenseman. He was clearly focused on delivering the hit and nothing else.

Less than a minute later, Eller was caught on the ice a tad early, and Washington was called for too many men.

“I see Backy coming for a change, they had full possession,” Eller said. “I don't see behind my back, I think the guys are telling me he has one skate over so I think it was an unnecessary call, but what am I going to say? It's a tough one.”

With 1:15 of a two-man advantage to work with, Jonathan Huberdeau scored the go-ahead goal late in the period.

Even after a furious comeback, the Caps could not escape the second with the score tied because of the penalties.

Just 43 seconds after Huberdeau’s goal, Washington went right back to 5-on-3. Evgeny Kuznetsov was tossed from a faceoff by the linesman and argued the call, eventually earning himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

“He said something he shouldn't have said to the referee,” Reirden said of the call.

The Caps' penalty problems were exacerbated by the continued problems of the penalty kill.

Heading into Friday's game, Washington was only killing off 72.2 percent of the power plays they faced. They allowed another two power play goals Friday as they continued to struggle when facing the extra man.

“We have room for improvement for sure,” Reirden said of his penalty kill. “It’s a new system, new with the way we’re killing, its new personnel. We’re learning. We’re missing a key guy in Tom on that as well. It’s not easy, either, when you’re 5-on-3 when they’ve got talented players that can convert in that spot. It’s definitely a work in progress and I didn't expect it to go smoothly to start with. That’s one of the areas that we knew was gonna be new to our team this year and it’s gonna continue to take some work. It’s something that definitely is a work in progress.”

Mistakes put the Caps down 4-1, they put them down 5-4, they cost them a valuable point against a previously winless Panthers team before a four-game road trip through Canada, and they are ultimately why the defending Stanley Cup champions are only 3-2-2 to start the season.

And they know it.

“We’re still trying to find our game,” Connolly said. “Would we have liked to have picked up where we left off? Yes. But it’s not easy. We played a lot of hockey last year and a short summer and you come in here and there’s a lot of distractions, a lot of that kind of stuff. We’ve done some good things and we’ve done some not so good things.

"I think if you look at last season we weren't very good either at the start. We weren't at our best. Just take the positives and know that we can overcome that. It hasn’t been disastrous. We’re still getting points, we’re still above .500 right now with a tough couple back-to-backs to start the year. So not the worst start, but obviously we have another level.”

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

The Florida Panthers played over half of Friday’s game with five defensemen after a hit from Alex Ovechkin ultimately knocked Mark Pysyk out of the game.

Early in the second period, Ovechkin attempted to enter the offensive zone with the puck, but it was swept away at the blue line back to Pysyk. Pysyk quickly chipped the puck away and then was on the receiving end of a hit from Ovechkin.

In real time, the hit did not appear to be a big one. It wasn't even the biggest hit Ovechkin delivered in the game, as in the third period he sent Aleksander Barkov flying with a shoulder hit. But Pysyk went down to the ice after the hit and left the game soon after.

After the game, Florida head coach Bob Boughner did not mince words.

“Pysyk got a high hit to the head,” he said.

When asked if he thought the league should review the hit, Boughner said, “I hope they do because if you see the replay, it's high. It's a head shot. And the league's trying to clamp down on that. Whether there's no call, I don't blame the refs. Maybe they missed it. That happens. But those are the kind of plays that need to be reviewed.”

Based on the replay, it is hard to determine if the principal point of contact was the head. Ovechkin does not launch himself, but does appear to take an upward trajectory into Pysyk. Still, it seems like a hard sell to say Ovechkin was targeting the head.

But the hit did send Pysyk out of the game, and in today’s NHL, when head hits are a big topic of conversation and when a player is injured on a play, the NHL has shown it takes those plays more seriously.

Pysyk returned to the game for one more shift after receiving the hit, but left the game after and did not return.

“Right now we're still getting him checked out, but we'll see more in the morning,” Boughner said.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: