Beninati: Remarkable Halak

Beninati: Remarkable Halak

Monday, April 26, 2010 11:21 pm

By Joe Beninati

Sometimes all you can do is shake your head and wonder how in the world one player performs at such a remarkable level. Jaroslav Halak was the overwhelming reason why Montreal earned 4-1 decision over Washington tonight.He made a ridiculously good stop on Alex Semin in the first minute of the game and never looked back. As soon as he made two more stellar stops, shortly there after I was worried that he may be unbeatable tonight. But his effort managed to exceed my wildest imagination. That was one of the best goaltending performances I have seen in many moons.Michael Cammalleri scored twice on Semyon Varlamov before the game was ten minutes old. The first goal was a pretty snap shot. His second goal appeared to glance in off Boyd Gordon and underneath Varlamov. It was almost unimaginable to think the Caps would be in another two goal deficit when honestly I thought that they had a much better start tonight then the dismal opening to Game 5 at home.Once the first period was complete the Capitals dominated the remainder of regulation. The game was so one-sided it was hard to fathom that Halak could manage to compete at such a high level. Joe Corvo, Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin, all of them had golden scoring opportunities that were thwarted by the Montreal goalie.When Halak wasn't robbing someone, he would benefit from a great break on shots that hit the post. The Canadiens have managed to nullify the Capitals power play. Washington is a putrid 1-for-30 with the man advantage. Part of that is their own doing, but tonight Halak was the team's best penalty killer. And when he helped squash a 5-on-3 man advantage for over a minute, all the Caps could do is tip their caps.So this series comes down to a one game winner-take-all on Wednesday. Right now Montreal has the momentum and the all important super hot goalie. Sorry if I am a bit stunned that Washington's 3-1 lead in the series has gone up in smoke. You could make the argrument that the Caps didn't deserve that lead in the first place, but now they have to dig deep and summon all their talent and team chemistry just to survive round one.

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Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Baltimore Ravens swarmed around their new defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale, celebrating after a game that will go down in the record books.

Getting 11 sacks along with a shutout against the man Martindale replaced makes this mark even sweeter.

Za'Darius Smith had a career-high three sacks as the Ravens piled up the franchise-record Sunday in routing the Tennessee Titans 21-0 in the rain, just missing the NFL record shared by five teams by one.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh called it an "historic defensive performance."

The Ravens (4-2) smothered Tennessee, allowing just 106 yards of offense while they turned Marcus Mariota's day into the worst of his NFL career. Eight different Ravens sacked Mariota, and four got their first sack this season at his expense. The Titans never got closer to the end zone than the Ravens 37, each time pushed back with yet another sack.

"We want to be something special out there," Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon said. "For Wink, it's great to go against his predecessor, and he stepped up and we came through and pitched a shutout. You don't ever talk about unicorns while you're doing it, but we got it done. We got it done for him, and we celebrated after."

Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator when Dean Pees retired after last season. His retirement lasted less than a month with first-year coach Mike Vrabel luring Pees to join him as the Titans' defensive coordinator.

Asked about Pees, Smith only said that the coordinator told him at his pro day at Kentucky that the linebacker would be a Raven.

"Love him to death, but hey, we won tonight, so we're going to leave it at that," Smith said with a smile.

The Titans (3-3) had not been shut out at home since the franchise relocated to Tennessee.

"That's the headline: The `Tennessee Titans didn't do nearly enough on all levels to win the football game,'" Vrabel said. "Or even make it competitive."


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Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Panthers

Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 15, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Talking points

Here are the players who saw their stock go up against the Panthers on Sunday and others who saw their stocks drop. 

Stock up—A few days ago, CB Josh Norman was a penny stock. He had mixed up assignments in the blowout loss to the Saints and take a ton of criticism after the game, much of it warranted. During the Panthers game, he was a blue chip. Norman got his first interception in 20 games and he forced a fumble. There is still a lot of season to be played but for now, at least it’s good to be Josh Norman.

Stock down—They won the game and that’s the quarterback’s main job. But for the second straight game, Alex Smith did not play up to his $18.4 million cap number. He passed for 163 yards. At times you really wondered where he was throwing the ball and/or to whom he was throwing it. They were able to win thanks to Adrian Peterson’s rushing and three takeaways. To Smith’s credit, he protected the ball well and it should be noted he was without favorite targets, Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder. Regardless, it was not a sharp performance by Smith. 

Stock upPeterson came into the game with an injured ankle, knee, and shoulder. Not only did he fight through the pain, he thrived. Six days after he rushed for just six yards against the Saints and sat out most of the second half, he picked up 97 yards on 17 carries, an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Peterson did rip off a 19-yard run but mostly it was three yards here, six yards there. It was what the Redskins were expecting when the signed him. 

Stock down—With Thompson out, Kapri Bibbs had his big chance to show what he can do. He didn’t do much. Bibbs, who was promoted from the practice squad earlier this season, picked up 11 yards rushing on two carries and he caught one pass for six yards. There were some high hopes for Bibbs among Redskins fans. For today, he didn’t live up to them. 

Stock up—I know that Daron Payne didn’t make a ton of plays and his streak of games with at least one sack ended at two. But he was part of a defensive front that held Christian McCaffrey, who came into the game averaging 82.3 rushing yards per game (fourth in the NFL) and 5.2 yards per attempt, to 20 yards on eight attempts, a 2.5 per carry average. And he made a remarkable play, which is becoming routine for him, when he made the tackle on a tight end who had taken a screen pass well outside of the numbers. He’s a special talent and his stock will continue to rise. 

The agenda

Today: Open locker room 11:30; Jay Gruden press conference 3:00 

Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Giants 13; Redskins @ Eagles 49