Capitals

Isner out of Hopman Cup with knee injury

Isner out of Hopman Cup with knee injury

PERTH, Australia (AP) John Isner withdrew from the Hopman Cup on Thursday because of a right knee injury, ending the American team's chances of reaching the final of the eight-country tournament and handing a championship berth to Spain.

Isner, who still hopes to compete at the Australian Open beginning Jan. 14, played with strapping on his knee when he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France on Tuesday and later said he was suffering from ``a little tendinitis.'' Isner also lost to South African Kevin Anderson in his opening match on Sunday.

Isner said after withdrawing Thursday, however, that he's not sure if tendinitis is the problem.

``I don't necessarily know if it's tendinitis,'' he said. ``It's sore and it's caused me a little bit of trouble and from that I'm not able to really load the right way and I'm not really going for my shots like I should.''

Isner, the highest-ranked American at No. 14 in the world, said he still plans to play in next week's Sydney International and the Australian Open.

``My plan now is just to treat it as best I can and see how it reacts. I do know I've always been a fast healer when I've had little injuries pop up here and there, so I'm confident I'm going to be fine for the Australian Open.''

``It's not a great way to start the year but I'd rather it happen this week than in two weeks (at the Australian Open),'' he added.

Spain and the U.S. were each 2-0 in round-robin play at the Hopman Cup heading into Thursday's deciding match-up. Spain was awarded a walkover into the final Saturday against the Group A winner.

Although Spain is already assured of advancing, Isner was replaced by his Australian hitting partner, Thanasi Kokkinakis, for his singles match against Fernando Verdasco.

Venus Williams also was still scheduled to play Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues in women's singles, and would team with Kokkinakis to play Verdasco and Medina Garrigues in a meaningless mixed doubles match.

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3 things to watch in Caps vs. Panthers

3 things to watch in Caps vs. Panthers

The Capitals play their last home game of October on Friday as they host the Florida Panthers (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). Here’s what you need to watch.

Dmitrij Jaskin is back in

Todd Reirden has made one adjustment to the lineup for Friday’s game, putting Dmitrij Jaskin back in on the fourth line in place of Nathan Walker. Jaskin has yet to record a point since joining the Capitals, but that has a lot to do with where he was coming from.

“This team is based on being creative and it's probably something that I missed in the last few years,” Jaskin said following Friday’s morning skate.

In St. Louis, Jaskin was coached by Mike Yeo and, before him, Ken Hitchcock. Both coaches preach a hard-nosed offensive style based more on effort and being defensively responsible than skill. Coming to a team like Washington then, a team that encourages skill and creativity on offense, is a pretty dramatic change.

Jaskin has played a very safe style since coming into the lineup. It’s good to be defensively responsible, but not if it completely chokes the life out of the offense. Jaskin is hardly generating any offense at all thus far since coming to Washington.

After a few more practices, can it finally spark some skill and creativity from Jaskin?

Can the Caps get the bottom six back on track?

The Caps have gotten only two goals in six games from their bottom six and both came in the team’s blowout opening win against Boston. The third and fourth lines generated some chances on Wednesday, but afterward, Reirden stressed that the team needed to see more production from its depth forwards.

“We've got to continue to get scoring depth wise if we want to have success in this league,” he said. “That's where everything's headed is you can't rely on your top guys to come through for you every night and we'll continue to focus on finding the right chemistry with that third and fourth line to be able to give us some added offense there as well.”

Florida could provide a good opportunity for those players to get some points on the board.

Starting goalie Roberto Luongo is out with an injury and James Reimer will get the start on Friday. In three games, Reimer has a GAA of 3.62 and save percentage of .885.

As a team, the Panthers currently rank 24th in goals against per game with 3.50.

Two teams in need of a win

Florida is still searching for its first win of the season with a 0-2-2 record. It is still early, but this is a Panthers team with playoff aspirations and you don’t want to dig yourself in too deep a hole to start or it becomes very difficult to dig out.

The Caps, meanwhile, will be playing in their final home game of October. They leave Saturday for Vancouver to kick-off a three-game Western Canada trip. They then will face the Canadiens in Montreal on Nov. 1 before finally returning home.

Washington’s next home game will not come until Nov. 3. That makes Friday’s game a big one for the Caps as they try to secure two points before hitting the road.

“It's definitely a big game,” Reirden said. “We want to build on some of the things we were able to accomplish last game. It's difficult anytime you go out west with time changes and different stuff. We know that [Florida is] going to be a desperate team that hasn't had the start that they want and they're talented so it's an important game for us to go on the road on a winning note.”

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Redskins need to stop Cowboys' Cole Beasley to win in Week 7

Redskins need to stop Cowboys' Cole Beasley to win in Week 7

When the Redskins take on the Cowboys on Sunday in Week 7, there's one player NBC Sports Washington's resident GM Charley Casserly says they need to contain in this week's "Matchup to Watch."

The player: Wide receiver Cole Beasley

The comparison: Randall Cobb (Packers), Jamison Crowder (Redskins)

Who will cover him: Casserly's guess? Fabian Moreau

The key for the Redskins: Get physical with him. "Jam Beasley off the line of scrimmage," Casserly says, "reroute him and be physical with him."

Click "Play' in the video box above to watch Charley Casserly's full Redskins vs. Cowboys Matchup of the Week.

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