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Many Colts making first trip to Foxborough

Many Colts making first trip to Foxborough

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) There's a first time for everything and Sunday's trip to New England will be a first for many of the Indianapolis Colts.

``It's funny because I had a show of hands of how many guys in the locker room that this was their first trip to Foxborough,'' interim head coach Bruce Arians said. ``Way too many.''

Arians said nearly half of the players in the locker room raised their hands.

Of course, this season has been full of new things - a new quarterback, a new coach, a new general manager, a new image on the field.

Now the Colts (6-3) will try to do something for the first time since 2009 when they go on the road to face the Patriots (6-3) - string five wins together.

``This game is, it's enriched in its own way, with the competitors on the field and the grand stage that it's on, both teams 6-3,'' defensive end Cory Redding. ``At the end of the day, somebody's got to come out 7-3 and it's going to be a nice challenge for us to go in there and do what we do.''

Indy went 16-3 back in 2009 and won 14 straight before resting their starters the last two games of the regular season and then losing to the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl. After last year's debacle, the theme for the Colts this year has been ``in the hunt,'' with the playoffs on everyone's mind.

``It will be huge for us, but it's just another game,'' Arians said of the Patriots. ``We've got a bunch of them left and we want to stay in the hunt.''

The Colts passed the test last week when they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-10 in their first prime-time game on Thursday. They have some challenges this week.

Colts cornerback Darius Butler will have his hands full with receiver Wes Welker, but the two have spent a lot of time together and know all about each other.

``We actually work out offseason at the same place, so we're definitely familiar with each other as far as athletic ability,'' Butler said. ``It'll be a great matchup. He's one of the best receivers in the game, obviously one of the most productive in the past few years in this league.''

The unexpected and quick turnaround of the Colts team from last year isn't just surprising fans, either.

``I'm definitely impressed,'' Welker said. ``Obviously, you would figure it would be a rebuilding type deal for the Colts and it's not that way at all. They're playing some really good ball with a lot of young players and then they have some veterans too who really kind of step up for them in crunch time.''

With everything being as new as it is for this Indy team, Arians just doesn't want people to get caught up in watching Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

After all, it is the Brady of the Peyton Manning-Brady rivalry years.

``I know as a younger quarterback, you always tried to watch that game just because the two were sort of a benchmark for the position guys,'' Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said. ``So I remember some of the playoff games, some of the late games, I think when Gillette still had grass, it was always muddy, late in the year. So, great games and great franchises.''

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A special night for Barry Trotz on his return to Washington

A special night for Barry Trotz on his return to Washington

WASHINGTON — Barry Trotz stood on an the unfamiliar visitors’ bench and scanned the rafters at Capital One Arena as the national anthem played. 

It had to be around here somewhere. He looked to one side of the scoreboard and then the other. Finally his eyes locked on the 2018 Stanley Cup banner hanging in the south end of the arena, a testament to a season he will remember the rest of his life. 

"I was just focused on the game. Until the national anthem, I didn’t even know where it was,” Trotz said. “I was looking on the other side, around the clock, and then I turn around and there it is. That’s a proud moment for everybody involved: ownership, Ted Leonsis, and [Brian MacLellan] in management, and the players and everybody, the fans. That’s the one you want.” 

Trotz could afford a reflective mood as he spoke after a 2-0 win against the Capitals in his first game back in Washington since leading the franchise to its first Stanley Cup last June. The Islanders broke a scoreless tie with two goals in the third period just 2:26 apart. They are the surprise of the NHL after losing star center John Tavares to free agency last summer. They are all alone in first place in the Metropolitan Division now well past the halfway point of the season. 

Trotz stayed focused before the game. He arrived hours before game time and holed up in his office trying to figure a way the Islanders could win the second of a back-to-back against the rested Capitals.

At the first television timeout of the first period, Trotz steadied himself for the video tribute the Capitals put together. There, on the giant scoreboard, the indelible images flashed: Trotz at his opening press conference in 2014, promising his new team had what it took to win a championship, winning the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year, laughing with his players, skating the hot laps during last year’s playoffs, lifting the Stanley Cup. The Capital One Arena crowd stood and roared for the entire break in the action.  

“My heart got full of all the good memories,” Trotz said. “I was looking up there. I was trying not to look too much because I was getting pretty close to that sensitive side of myself. But it was extremely well done and it was just great memories. Everybody was a part of something special.”

Afterward they had another mini reunion outside the Washington locker room, his home for four years. Trotz and Lane Lambert, his assistant for all four years with the Caps, chatted with players as they came out. It wasn’t as emotional as the championship ring ceremony when the two teams first met on Nov. 26 in Brooklyn. Trotz’s voice wavered as he addressed his former players before that game. This time was all laughs. 

Capitals assistant Blaine Forsythe was there and head coach Todd Reirden briefly stopped by. Tom Wilson and Matt Niskanen and Devante Smith-Pelly came over to say hello. Brooks Orpik, who had a memorable night of his own with a ceremony for playing in his 1,000th NHL game earlier in the week, leaned against a wall and chatted with Trotz and Lambert, who jabbed Caps goalie coach Scott Murray and said he better have a “hotter suit” the next time they meet, which will be in New York on March 1.

Maybe then the Islanders will have come down to earth or maybe Trotz is in the midst of another magical season. Maybe these two teams, with so much shared history, are destined to meet again in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“They’ve got the same team. They’re a good hockey team. There’s no question,” Trotz said. “They’ve got lots of mettle and it starts with their leadership and [Nicklas Backstrom] and [Alex Ovechkin] and that core group….That whole group, Johnny Carlson, all the guys that have here for a long time, they’ve got lots of mettle. I’m fortunate to have another great group to work with on the Island. As I said to them, I hope we can have the same experience down the road. It’s special doing that.”

 

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Barry Trotz returns to DC and hands the Capitals a fourth straight loss

Barry Trotz returns to DC and hands the Capitals a fourth straight loss

The New York Islanders outlasted the Capitals in a defensive battle Friday with two third period goals to hand Washington a 2-0 loss in Barry Trotz's return to Capital One Arena. The loss is now the Caps' fourth straight and knocks them down to third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Here are three reasons Washington lost.

Defense

You could definitely see the effect Barry Trotz has had on this Islanders team in this one. Last year, the Islanders were laughably terrible on defense. On Friday, they frustrated the Caps offense all night long.

New York was positionally sound all game long, forcing the Caps to the outside and limiting all of their offensive opportunities. Every time it looked like Washington had a rush developing, the Islanders got back and got in front of the puck. Every time the Caps tried to set up their offense, New York forced them to the perimeter and kept them from the high-danger areas. Thomas Greiss was there to clean up the rest as he recorded his second shutout of the season.

Washington was limited to just 19 shots on goal on the night, 15 through the first two periods.

A third period breakthrough

Braden Holtby looked very sharp for the Caps all night long in his first game since he suffered an eye injury on Jan. 12. He was finally beaten in the third period thanks to a great deflection by Josh Bailey.

Mathew Barzal showed some great puck control as he entered the offensive zone, wheeled around away from the initial defensive pressure, carried it to the high slot and fired a shot. By wheeling around, that allowed Bailey the chance to park himself in front of Holtby for the deflection.

In such a tight defensive game, you knew it was going to be an ugly goal like Bailey’s that would finally break through.

A third-period 2-on-0

John Carlson pinched into the offensive zone. When that happens, that means it’s Michal Kempny’s job to hightail it back on defense if the puck gets past Carlson.

Instead, Kempny tried to step up and to try to keep the puck in at the blue line. Cal Clutterbuck got the puck past him, and it was off to the races with him and Matt Martin on a 2-on-0. Clutterbuck called his own number and finished off the play with the goal to put the Islanders up 2-0.

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