Capitals

Guard Snee practices, but questionable for Giants

Guard Snee practices, but questionable for Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) One of the constants on the New York Giants offensive line over the last seven-plus seasons may be missing when they face the Bengals in Cincinnati.

Chris Snee practiced for the first time this week on Friday and his status for Sunday's game has been listed as questionable because of a sprained ankle.

The son-in-law of coach Tom Coughlin, Snee has missed starting only one game at right guard since 2005. That was last year when he was sidelined by a concussion.

``I'd love to be out there, but that's a decision we haven't made yet,'' Snee said after practicing on a limited basis on Friday. ``You can talk to the head guy.''

Coughlin said much will depend on how Snee feels on Sunday. He would not say who would replace Snee if he cannot to play, but the Giants (6-3) are flexible. The most likely scenario would have David Diehl move from right tackle to guard and replace him with Sean Locklear, who started the first eight games at either left or right tackle with injuries to Will Beatty and Diehl.

Snee rolled an ankle in the first quarter vs. Pittsburgh, but never left the loss. He said his ankle has improved since being hurt and said he will give an honest assessment of his condition on Sunday. Guard Kevin Boothe, for one, expects Snee to play.

``He probably needed a couple of days of rest,'' Boothe quipped, ``because he is getting up there in years and age.''

Center David Baas was joking with a member of the medical staff about Snee being a pain in the neck for the trainers, something Snee would not dispute.

``I just don't like to be in there, so maybe that's the reason why he says that,'' Snee said. ``I don't like to be out. I don't like to miss practice. I don't like to be in there. I don't like to miss things with my teammates, so that's probably why I'm not the happiest camper in there, which is a good thing.''

Under offensive line coach Pat Flaherty, the Giants have made all their linemen learn more than one position on the line.

Baas can play guard and center. The same for Boothe. Beatty and Locklear can play either tackle spot. Diehl is the most versatile. In his 10 seasons, he has started at both guard and tackle positions for entire seasons. Last year, when Beatty was hurt, he moved from left guard to left tackle.

``I don't think it's rare,'' Baas said. ``It's happening more and more now and it really helps with depth. That's good for our team that we have that.''

Baas added that knowing two positions helps the line to work together.

``I played many years at guard (in San Francisco) and thought the center had it easy,'' Baas said. ``When I started playing center it was a little eye-opening. It's good you get the different perspectives and the more positions you know, it just makes it that much better.''

Having started 110 of the last 111 games and being a member of two Super Bowl-champion teams, Snee can afford to miss a practice. And his teammates, when they get serious, realize his true value.

``You don't worry about him,'' Boothe said. ``I don't think anybody on the team is worried about him. He is as tough as they come.''

And as experienced.

``Missing a couple of reps is not the worst thing in my opinion,'' Snee said. ``I have been in this offense for nine years. I have a firm handle on it.''

And if he can't go?

``We roll however we have to roll,'' Baas said. ``I know he wants to be out there.''

The Giants received some good news on the injury front when middle linebacker Chase Blackburn practiced without restrictions Friday and was listed as probable. The Ohio native missed last week with a hamstring injury.

``It's going to be nice to go back to the great state and enjoy it a little bit and have the family there,'' Blackburn said. ``Hopefully, it will be a win that I can celebrate.''

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NOTES: The Giants listed safety Kenny Phillips (knee), linebacker Jacquian Williams (knee) and cornerback Michael Coe (hamstring) as out for the game. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) and linebacker Keith Rivers (calf) were also questionable. Defensive tackle Chris Canty (groin), receiver Hakeem Nicks, tight end Bear Pascoe (ankle), running back Andre Brown (shoulder) and Baas (ankle-elbow) were listed as probable. ... The Giants are 1-1 vs. the AFC North.

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Alex Ovechkin goes for gold before a needed break from hockey

Alex Ovechkin goes for gold before a needed break from hockey

The Capitals’ season ended a month ago, but Alex Ovechkin has yet to take his break.

That will happen soon enough, but for now Washington’s captain is leading Russia at the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Slovakia. After that, he gets his first real rest since the end of the 2016-17 season. He has played in 194 NHL games, including the postseason, in 18 months.  

Ovechkin will turn 34 on Sept. 17 and the questions now start in earnest: How long can one of the world’s greatest goal scorers keep up his pace? Ovechkin recorded his eighth 50-goal season this past season. And while it ended in disappointment with a first-round loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Ovechkin deserved little blame after adding four goals and five assists in the series.

“As a captain and as a leader, I thought he took another step this year from how he showed up to training camp to how he played all year long two-way hockey, commitment and when the games mattered the most,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said last month. “He scored big goals and showed fantastic playmaking ability. A physical force. I'm excited to see what he comes back with now after a little extended time away because he was tremendous this year.”

Washington won the Stanley Cup on June 7 in Las Vegas last year and after a hectic summer of celebrating and, eventually, training, players were back less than three months later for another grind of a season that ended after 89 more regular-season and playoff games. Ovechkin missed just one of them. 

Next year could be another one filled with milestones for Ovechkin. He doesn’t even need 50 to reach them. With 42 goals he reaches 700 for his career. Only seven players have ever hit that mark.  

Ovechkin passes Mario Lemieux (690) with 32 goals and moves into the top 10 all time. He has a reasonable chance to catch Brett Hull for second-most power-play goals (265) in NHL history. Ovechkin has 247 right now and has averaged 17 per year each of the past four seasons.     

At some point, even for Ovechkin, scoring 50 goals will be too much. Only Johnny Bucyk (36) and Jaromir Jagr (34) have ever topped 50 goals at an older age. But if he could just do it one more time he would tie Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for most 50-goal seasons ever (nine). We’re at the point where nothing should surprise, but we’ve gone off the known map. 

“That's the best I've seen him play in my three years here,” teammate Lars Eller said. “He just took some games over. It was impressive. He was our best player. Him and Nick, but especially O, he just took it to another level. Physicality-wise, he enforced his will out there and when he decides to do that, he's almost unstoppable. That was exciting to see."

Almost everything Ovechkin does now is unprecedented. In the past 20 NHL seasons dating to 1998-99, there have been 28 different 50-goal seasons as scoring has become harder thanks to better goalie play, equipment and more tactical defensive systems. And yet Ovechkin owns 29 percent of those 50-goal seasons. His 89 points (51 goals, 38 assists) were his most since 2009-10.  

For now, Ovechkin will settle for another IIHF World Championship. He has helped Russia win gold at the event three times (2008, 2010 and 2014). 

But Russia was 6-0 heading into the matchup with Sweden on Tuesday night and had outscored its opponents 29-3 in Group B despite just a goal and an assist from Ovechkin. 

There can be wild fluctuations in the competition level during the group stage at Worlds. The Russians beat Italy 10-0 last week. And the United States, Canada and Finland are all formidable opponents in Group A. 

Russia will likely play one of those teams in the quarterfinals on Thursday so nothing is guaranteed. The semifinals would be Saturday if they do win and then the gold-medal game - or the bronze-medal game - would be Sunday. Then, finally, Ovechkin can rest and get ready for his 15th NHL season with two years left on his contract with the Capitals. 

“[Ovechkin] elevated his game in the first round. He's just got a hunger to him to contribute and to score goals,” teammate Brett Connolly said. “You could tell that he was committed and that he was going to give everything he had to win it again. He was great last year and arguably even better this year….This fan base is very lucky to watch what he does on a consistent basis. You're not going to see that ever again. So, enjoy it while it's here.” 

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Tim Connelly explains his interview with Wizards, decision to stay with Nuggets

Tim Connelly explains his interview with Wizards, decision to stay with Nuggets

Tim Connelly sat down with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis about the head front-office opening on Friday.

On Monday, NBC Sports Washington confirmed that he decided to stick with his role as president of basketball operations for the Denver Nuggets

A day later, he spoke to the media at a press conference and answered questions about his meeting with Washington.

Clear in Connelly's comments were his respect for Leonsis, but commitment to continuity in Denver. 

"I had a really nice conversation with Mr. Leonsis and his staff. He's a fantastic owner, I think a real visionary. I was really impressed by who he was and his thoughts for the team. That team's going to be special quickly under his leadership. We just had a conversation and not much more than that."

As for the reason for the discussion with Leonsis, Connelly said it came down to his love for the franchise. 

"I spent 14 years there. Certainly it's where I'm from, it's where my wife's from, so I just wanted to have the conversation because I care about the organization," he said.

"I'd never had an audience with [Leonsis], so to have that conversation and exchange of ideas, you know, it's flattering." 

Ultimately, however, the Baltimore native emphasized that Washington couldn't entice him away from the franchise he'd spent the last six years building. 

"Loyalty and patience is such a rarity in professional sports and that's here in spades. Those things matter to me," he said. "I had a hard time envisioning myself elsewhere."

With Connelly out of the picture, the list of candidates for the Wizards front-office opening is narrowing. Currently, Tommy Sheppard, Danny Ferry and Troy Weaver remain in the conversation. 

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