Capitals

Former UTEP player Kugler returns to coach team

Former UTEP player Kugler returns to coach team

EL PASO, Texas (AP) UTEP hired Sean Kugler as its new coach Monday, bringing in a former Miners' player and coach to replace the retired Mike Price.

Kugler spent almost three years as the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line coach, following stints with the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions. He also worked at Boise State. He played for current UTEP athletic director Bob Stull, graduating in 1988, and later coached at the school for eight seasons.

``I spent 13 years as a player and coach at UTEP and loved every minute of it,'' Kugler said in a statement. ``I'm excited about starting a new chapter in my coaching career at a place that has so many fond memories.''

Kugler was on UTEP's staff from 1993 to 2000.

``He brings a lot of enthusiasm and experience and, most importantly, has a great love for UTEP and the city of El Paso,'' Stull said.

UTEP says a salary is still being negotiated. The 46-year-old Kugler is a native of Freeport, N.Y., and has three children. His oldest son, Robert, is a lineman at Purdue.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin congratulated Kugler on the move.

``The Miners are getting a tremendous coach and even though we are sad to see him leave the Steelers, we are excited for him to return to his alma mater and lead their program,'' Tomlin said.

Kugler follows Price, best known in coaching for reaching the Rose Bowl twice at Washington State but losing the job at Alabama after a drinking binge. Price retired Nov. 19 after nine years at UTEP, which he led to 8-4 records and bowl games in his first two years before failing to achieve a winning record since.

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Caps claim round robin finale over Bruins to secure a first-round matchup with the Islanders

Caps claim round robin finale over Bruins to secure a first-round matchup with the Islanders

The Capitals are winless in the 2020 postseason no more. Washington defeated the Boston Bruins 2-0 on Sunday for their lone win in the round robin off of goals from T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson. The win secures third place for Washington and a first-round matchup with the New York Islanders.

Here is why the Caps won.

The penalty kill

The penalty kill was not tested nearly as much on Sunday as it was in Washington's game on Thursday, but it remained perfect as it killed off both of the Bruins' power plays on the day while allowing only one shot on goal.

In what has been largely a lackluster showing for Washington through the round robin, the penalty kill has been among the few bright spots and was a perfect 8 for 8 through three games.

Braden Holtby

Washington's best player through the round robin has been its netminder and that remained the case on Sunday. Holtby turned aside 30 of the 31 shots he faced for another strong performance in net. He was beaten only by Jake DeBrusk who caught Holtby by surprise by some fancy footwork to adjust to fire a quick shot on net.

Boston had a golden opportunity to tie the game at 1 in the second period as Charlie McAvoy cut through the middle for a 1-on-1 chance, but Holtby calmly stared him down and plucked the wrister out of the air with the glove.

RELATED: T.J. OSHIE'S REBOUND GOAL GETS THE CAPS ON THE BOARD VERSUS THE BRUINS

Team defense

Offensively, this was not a great game for the Caps. The team managed only two shots on goal through the first period. The offense was better as the game went along, finishing with 25 for the game, but there was not much to speak of early on. Still, it wasn't as if the Bruins were skating circles around them either.

Thursday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers was a pretty bad one in terms of team defense. The Flyers scored one goal off a turnover and two more off of defensive breakdowns. Washington's team defense was much improved on Sunday in what was a very conservative game.

Now, obviously the team has to find more of a balance -- you can't fire only two shots on goal in a period and hope to win many of those games -- but with defense being one of the team's major weaknesses heading into the playoffs, Sunday's game was certainly a step in the right direction.

Oshie's redemption

Washington's performance in the first period was not encouraging. The team had only one shot on goal late in the period, but Oshie had a golden opportunity late with a nice steal from McAvoy. Oshie saw McAvoy pinch in the offensive zone so he charged, chipped away the puck and launched a 2-on-1 in the other direction. Oshie carried the puck and called his own number, but missed the shot badly. It looked like he was trying to hit the corner, but missed by a good foot.

Oshie redeemed himself later in the period, however, as he beat Zdeno Chara to the puck on the doorstep and shot it home to give Washington the 1-0 lead. It was the Caps' second shot on goal of the period and it came in the final minute.

Wilson justifies Pastrnak's tweet

On July 28, David Pastrnak sent out a bizarre tweet declaring that Wilson was the best scorer in the league. I don't know about the entire league, but he was the best goal-scorer on Sunday with his insurance tally in the third period.

As Ilya Kovalchuk cleared the puck out of the defensive zone, Wilson sprinted down the ice to beat two Bruins and he claimed the puck behind the defense. He pulled the puck backhand to forehand and fired a quick shot off the post and into the top shelf. Goalie Tuukka Rask probably wishes he came out of the net to collect that puck, but he didn't and Wilson took advantage with a really nice looking goal.

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Washington Football Team activates TE Logan Thomas from reserve/COVID-19 list

Washington Football Team activates TE Logan Thomas from reserve/COVID-19 list

The Washington Football Team has activated tight end Logan Thomas from the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced on Sunday.

Thomas was originally placed on the list on July 29 upon the tight end's arrival to training camp. 10 days later, he's been cleared to return.

It's unknown whether Thomas contracted the virus or not. Players can be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list if they have come in contact with someone else who has contracted the virus.

Washington has begun practicing over the past week or so, but the team has yet to do much more than walkthroughs on the field. Padded practices have yet to begin.

When practices resume on Monday, Thomas, 29, will be competing for playing time with Jeremy Sprinkle, Richard Rodgers, Hale Hentges and undrafted free agent Thaddeus Moss.

The tight end unit is arguably the worst position group on the team, so the Burgundy and Gold could use some contribution from Thomas in any way they can get.

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