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Jets' Ryan angered by anonymous rips of Tebow

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Jets' Ryan angered by anonymous rips of Tebow

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Rex Ryan doesn't mind his New York Jets players saying what's on their minds. Just as long as they put their names to their comments.

An angry Ryan addressed his team Wednesday for some anonymous quotes by players and members of the organization ripping backup quarterback Tim Tebow in a newspaper report.

``If you're not going to put your name to it, I think that's about as cowardly of a thing there is,'' Ryan said. ``I don't want to get into specifics of what I said, but I did address it with our football team. If you're searching for things to try to drive a wedge through the team, my thing is, I believe in this team.

``I believe this team is (together), will continue to be and maybe even become tighter. I'm confident that will be the case.''

A report in the Daily News on Wednesday said that more than a dozen players and members of the Jets organization believe there's no chance Tebow could overtake Mark Sanchez for the starting quarterback job - with one saying of the backup: ``He's terrible.''

``We never say that it always has to be a bed of roses,'' said Ryan, who encourages his players and coaches to ``be yourself'' in interviews. ``But again, put your name to it. I think people would respect you a lot more for it.''

The story drew so much attention that not a single question about the Jets' next opponent, the St. Louis Rams, was asked during Ryan's 22-minute news conference.

Tebow has remained unflappable all season despite constant questions about his role and how he's used by the Jets, but acknowledged this was a ``unique'' situation in his career and there was ``some frustration and I guess some sadness'' after hearing about the story.

``This is something I can't control,'' Tebow said, adding that the locker room is filled with ``a bunch of awesome dudes.''

``I can control my attitude, my effort and my work ethic,'' he added. ``Those are things that will never change based on what anybody says.''

Sanchez, who has taken his share of criticism during his nearly four seasons in New York, supported his teammate.

``I've been in those shoes,'' he said. ``I feel for Tim. You wake up the next day and you keep playing.''

Left guard Matt Slauson was one player whose name was used in the report, saying that ``it's not even close'' in terms of who the Jets' best quarterback is and that he has ``all the confidence in Mark,'' but adds: ``We don't really have a choice.'' Slauson said his comments were made ``long ago, months ago'' and didn't even remember making them.

``I feel that Mark is our quarterback,'' Slauson said simply Wednesday. ``That's how I feel.''

Tebow approached Slauson after hearing about his comments while they were in the trainers' room Wednesday morning, and smoothed things over.

``It was great,'' Tebow said. ``He's an awesome guy and we have a great relationship. He's someone you love having on your football team.''

Tebow added that he has been knocked all his life on the football field, constantly told by others what he can't do and using it to try to motivate himself.

``I always find the good and the positive in every situation,'' Tebow said, ``and the positive of this is to go and work a little harder and build better relationships with your teammates.''

Tebow was acquired from Denver in a stunning trade in March, with the Jets envisioning using the popular player in key spots on offense. Instead, he has had little impact through nine games, rushing 27 times for 92 yards and completing five of his six passes for 40 yards. Tebow also has not scored with the Jets, and the wildcat package he was supposed to be such a large part of has been inconsistent and mostly ineffective.

Ryan and the Jets insist he has made a difference on special teams, though, as New York's personal punt protector because opponents have been forced to account for him since he has pulled off a handful of fakes.

``We asked him, a former Heisman Trophy winner, first-round pick, a quarterback who led his team to a playoffs that, `You know what? We want you to be our personal protector,''' Ryan said. ``Everything we've asked him to do, he's done.''

But with Sanchez mired in a dreadful slump in which he has thrown two touchdowns and three interceptions, lost three fumbles and been sacked 11 times in the Jets' last three games, Ryan remains committed to him as the starting quarterback. Many fans and media have been calling for Tebow to take over for Sanchez to, more than anything, provide a spark for the offense.

For now, though, this remains Sanchez's team. And Tebow will remain on the sideline for most games, aside from the seven or eight plays he averages.

``He's a football player and I said that from Day 1,'' Ryan said of Tebow. ``We never brought him in to be the starting quarterback. We already had a starting quarterback in Mark Sanchez. I thought I was clear on that from the day we brought Tim in here.''

Ryan did, in fact, insist since the offseason that Sanchez was his guy, and he has stuck to that. But the latest locker room chatter presents an issue that the Jets are all too familiar with. In-fighting helped sink New York's season a year ago, with Sanchez and Santonio Holmes at odds nearly throughout.

After the season ended, several anonymous players were quoted in a media report saying they were uncertain of Sanchez's leadership abilities and called for the Jets to make a hard push for Peyton Manning.

``No question it can be harmful,'' safety Yeremiah Bell said of locker room turmoil. ``I mean that's why the story's out there, just to try to break this locker room up and make us kind of go and turn against each other. But that's not what we're all about. We all think the source is not credible and we don't believe we have those types of guys in this locker room. It's just ridiculous to us.''

Ryan insists keeping his locker room together, something he thinks was a bit exaggerated last year, won't be a problem this time around.

``This team, in my opinion, is not going to be pulled apart by outside people,'' Ryan said. ``Inside the walls, we're going to be (together), and that's what's going to give us an opportunity. If I'm wrong on that, obviously, that's going to be a different issue. I don't believe that.''

Some have speculated that the team's infrequent use of Tebow is a reflection of Ryan's true feelings about him, that perhaps he was never on board with bringing him to the Jets in the first place - and it's owner Woody Johnson who pushed for the popular backup to be here and drum up ticket sales.

General manager Mike Tannenbaum told The Associated Press during training camp that he and Ryan kicked around the idea while waiting for a flight, and the two - along with Johnson and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano - were excited about the prospect about bringing in Tebow.

``I absolutely wanted Tim here,'' Ryan said. ``The reason I say that is for the things that we've talked about. I was very honest from Day 1, and I've never gotten off that.''

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Tom Wilson does the little things in Capitals’ 3-2 overtime win at Colorado

Tom Wilson does the little things in Capitals’ 3-2 overtime win at Colorado

To call it a hit is generous. To call it a huge play is accurate. 

Capitals forward Tom Wilson backed into a loose puck along the boards in the defensive zone of Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. He waited for a hit sure to come from behind. 

Colin Wilson, the Avalanche center, moved in to dislodge the puck. Instead he got dislodged from gravity. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Tom Wilson, barely moving and braced for contact, used his own leverage to launch Colin Wilson into the air, arms and legs akimbo. 

By the time Colin Wilson crashed to the ice, Tom Wilson had chipped a blind backhand pass to center ice, where Alex Ovechkin stopped it with his skate, dropped it to teammate Nicklas Backstrom, who gave it back as they entered the offensive zone. Ovechkin crossed from left to right and ripped a shot past former teammate Philipp Grubauer in goal for Colorado. 

It was a wonderful pass from Backstrom, who put the Avalanche on their heels. Ovechkin’s shot was a bullet that left little chance for Grubauer. But make no mistake – it all started with Wilson, who was prepared to take a hit to make a play. It is those little things that the Capitals missed during Wilson’s 16-game suspension by the NHL. It was the little things that helped them to a 3-2 overtime victory.  

“[Wilson] brings so much energy to this group,” Backstrom said. “He’s everywhere out there. That’s what we need. He’s playing PK, he’s playing power plays, he’s doing everything. He’s a valuable guy in this group so we’re happy to have him back.”

The game-winning goal in overtime by Backstrom was a perfect example. Wilson took a drop pass from defenseman John Carlson 12 seconds into overtime with Washington on a 4-on-3 power play. That’s when he went to work. 

For six seconds Wilson and Avalanche center Carl Soderberg did battle along the right boards high in the offensive zone. Just as Wilson was knocked to the ice, he slipped a pass back to Backstrom alone at the point. 

With Soderberg on top of him and both out of the play, Wilson watched Backstrom take advantage of the extra space in what effectively became a 3-on-2. He passed to Carlson in the right faceoff circle and then got the puck back in the high slot and beat Grubauer blocker side for the win. That doesn’t happen without Wilson. 

“When you’re playing with good players, you just try and keep it simple, win your battles and they’ll do the rest,” Wilson said. “And that’s exactly what happened on both those plays. At the end there, I thought about throwing it across the ice a couple times, but I’m not that comfortable out there yet so just kind of ragged on the wall and waited. Nicky got open for me and made it easy, I just threw it over to him and it was in the back of the net.”  

The Ovechkin goal put Washington ahead 2-1 at 18:29 of the second period. The Backstrom winner came 22 seconds into overtime. Wilson, in his third game back after his original 20-game suspension was reduced by a neutral arbitrator, played a career-high 24 minutes, 24 seconds. He moved to the power play for 4:19 with T.J. Oshie out with an upper-body injury and contributed 1:35 on the penalty kill – a little less than usual. 

Wilson played on the PK for 5:23 in his first game back Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. He scored a goal in that game, too, by driving the net hard and has been a jolt of energy for a team that was scuffling coming into a difficult four-game road trip. The Capitals are 2-1-0 with one game left Monday at the Montreal Canadiens. 
 
“Tom is one of those guys that was vocal in our room, vocal on the bench that we’re fully in control of that game still even though we gave up the late goal,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “But that’s a tough start [after the suspension], three in four, and then add in the altitude and the minutes that we’re counting on him playing because they aren’t easy minutes. And then obviously having to chase around that top line tonight from Colorado is no easy task. Just really happy with the fact that we got him back a little earlier than was originally set up for us. It’s been a good bounce for our team.” 

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5 reasons the Caps beat the Avalanche

5 reasons the Caps beat the Avalanche

A shorthanded Capitals team marched into Colorado and took a 3-2 overtime win over the Avalanche on Friday.

Here are five reasons the Caps won.

A big glove save

With no T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov or Braden Holtby, the Caps were a bit shorthanded heading into the game. After the Avalanche took a 1-0 lead just 68 seconds in, it felt like it could be a very long night for Washington.

It could have been if not for an early breakaway save by Pheonix Copley.

Soon after the goal, Nathan MacKinnon grabbed the puck on a breakaway. MacKinnon is one of the best offensive players in the league and not the guy you want to see going in alone on Copley on a breakaway.

Copley, however, flashed the glove and made the save to keep the game at 1-0.

One year ago to the day, the Caps lost 6-2 in Colorado. With the injuries Washington was dealing with, it’s not a stretch to think this game could have gone off the rails quickly had the Avalanche jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Tic-Tac-Toe

The Caps struggled through the first period to get any real penetration on Colorado’s defense and were kept largely on the perimeter with very few high-danger opportunities. The Avalanche defense got a bit more porous in the second and Washington took advantage.

Travis Boyd collected the puck in the offensive zone below the goal line. As he skated along the wall, he found himself face-to-face with four Colorado players who were all just following the puck. As far as defense goes, that’s not an ideal situation. Boyd found a wide-open Chandler Stephenson on the cross-ice pass, Stephenson goes back left to Devante Smith-Pelly who had an empty net to shoot on to get the Caps on the board and tie the game at one.


Game speed

After six seasons in Washington, Philipp Grubauer has faced literally thousands of shots from Alex Ovechkin in practice. But he never faced one of those shots in a game until Friday. Those shots come off the stick a bit faster when it counts as Grubauer learned.

Nicklas Backstrom entered the offensive zone with the puck and backhanded it to Ovechkin. Backstrom kept driving to the net drawing the defense with him except for Tyson Barrie. Backstrom’s passed to the left, but Ovechkin collected it going right which caught Barrie flatfooted. Ovehckin easily skated around Barrie to find an open shooting lane, then snapped a shot past Grubauer to put the Caps up 2-1. Ovechkin’s celebration was almost instantaneous, he knew he had Grubauer beat.


A late penalty

The referees really put away the whistles in the third period. They even missed a clear high-stick to Dmitry Orlov that drew blood and should have been a double-minor. Colorado came back to tie the game, but Smith-Pelly finally drew a blatant holding penalty from Ian Cole with just over a minute left to go in regulation.

The Avalanche survived to force overtime, but Nicklas Backstrom scored the game-winner on the power play just 22 seconds in for the win.

Tom Wilson making a Tom Wilson play

Space is important in hockey. That’s what makes a four-on-three power play harder to cover than a five-on-four power play. You know what’s even better? A three-on-two.

The Caps entered overtime on a power play which gave them a four-on-three to start. Tom Wilson had the puck on the wall and took a hit from Carl Soderberg. He saw the hit coming and took it so he could make the pass to Backstrom. He won the board battle and the hit took Soderberg out of the play, giving the Caps a three-on-two in the offensive zone to work with. Backstrom passed to John Carlson who passed back to Backstrom. He had all day to fire the game-winner and it was all thanks to a tremendous play from Wilson that most people would not have noticed.

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