Capitals

NFL Capsule: Chargers at Saints

NFL Capsule: Chargers at Saints

SAN DIEGO (3-1) At NEW ORLEANS (0-4)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. NBC

OPENING LINE - Saints by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD - San Diego 3-1; New Orleans 1-3

SERIES RECORD - Chargers lead 7-3

AP PRO32 RANKING - Chargers No. 10; Saints No. 26

LAST MEETING - Saints beat Chargers 37-32, Oct. 26, 2008

LAST WEEK - Chargers beat Chiefs 37-20; Saints lost to Packers 28-27

CHARGERS OFFENSE - OVERALL (24), RUSH (17), PASS (23)

CHARGERS DEFENSE - OVERALL (12), RUSH (6), PASS (17)

SAINTS OFFENSE - OVERALL (8), RUSH (26), PASS (3)

SAINTS DEFENSE - OVERALL (32), RUSH (32), PASS (24)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Teams' last meeting came in Wembley Stadium in London. ... Chargers 2-0 on road. ... Chargers QB Philip Rivers replaced Saints' Drew Brees as starter in San Diego in 2006. ... . Rivers passed for 341 yards, three TDs and one INT with a 104.3 rating in only start vs. New Orleans, marking one of only eight career losses when rating 100 or better. ... Since last season, S Eric Weddle leads NFL with nine INTs. .CB Antoine Cason has INTs in his last two games. ... TE Antonio Gates has 7,907 career yards receiving, and with 74 more yards will surpass Hall of Famers Jackie Smith (7,918) and Ozzie Newsome (7,980) for fourth-most career yards receiving by TE. ... Saints seek to avoid first 0-5 start since 1996, when they finished 3-13. ... Brees seeks NFL record 48th straight regular season game with TD pass. He's tied with Hall of Fame QB Johnny Unitas, who had TD pass in 47 straight from 1956-1960. ... Last time Brees did not throw TD pass was Oct. 4, 2009, 24-10 win over NY Jets. ... Brees already owns NFL records for single-season yards passing (5,476) and single-season completion percentage (71.2). ... Since joining Saints in 2006, Brees has passed for 29,744 yards. ... Brees has faced Chargers once, passing for 339 yards with three TDs in 37-32 win in 2008. ... Brees passed for 446 yards and three TDs last week. ... RB-PR-KR Darren Sproles was fourth-round draft choice of Chargers in 2005 and faces former team for first time. ... In his first season with Saints in 2011, Sproles set NFL single season record with 2,696 all-purpose yards. ... TE Jimmy Graham has TD in six of his past seven games. ... WR Marques Colston had 153 yards receiving and TD last week.

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Could this be the best season of Alex Ovechkin’s career?

Could this be the best season of Alex Ovechkin’s career?

The NHL is rapidly becoming a young man’s game. Just look at the most dominant players in the league. Connor McDavid is the best player in the world at 21. Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon sit No. 1 and 2 in points in the league at the ages of 22 and 23 respectively. The Toronto Maple Leafs are taking the league by storm with a pair of 21-year-olds in Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner leading the way. Patrik Laine, 20, is one of the top goal scorers in the league and Brayden Point, 22, may be the best player on a loaded Tampa Bay roster.

Sitting above all those players, however, and atop the league in goals is the 33-year-old Alex Ovechkin.

“He is having a great start to the year,” head coach Todd Reirden said Tuesday. “In particular it's been his five-on-five play, converting on his chances and taking advantage of some fortunate breaks that went his way tonight, but he's earning. He's earning it and he's doing things the right way and he's been a great leader for us so far this year. Can't say enough about the year he's having.”

Ovechkin now has a four-goal lead in the goal-scoring race as he scored Nos. 23, 24 and 25 with his 21st career hat trick on Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings.

Ovechkin won the Rocket Richard Trophy for the seventh time last season as the league’s leading goal scorer. He did not reach 25 goals until game No. 41 on Jan. 2 and that’s after he spotted himself seven goals in the first two games of the season. In 2007-08 – the season in which Ovechkin lit the lamp a career-high 65 times – he did not reach 25 goals until game No. 36 on Dec. 22.

Thursday’s game was just Washington’s 30th of the season.

Ovechkin is currently enjoying a 12-game point streak that has seen him compile 19 points during that stretch, the second-longest streak of his career. Of those 19 points, only one has come on the power play.

With 39 points on the season, Ovechkin ranks tied for seventh in the NHL.

Is his current goal-scoring pace sustainable? Perhaps not. For his career, Ovechkin has a shooting percentage of 12.6-percent. For the season, he is shooting at 21.6-percent. But he is also taking fewer shots.

Ovechkin is currently shooting 3.87 shots per game, the second lowest rate of his career. If that holds, it will be only the third time in his career he has averaged fewer than four shots per game in a season.

So for those arguing that Ovechkin’s shooting percentage is bound to decline, there’s also a case to be made that he is also likely to start taking more shots which would help keep his goal-scoring pace up.

But the fact that we are even talking about this is remarkable in and of itself. While most players begin to physically decline in their early 30s, Ovechkin could be putting together the best season of his career at 33. That is absolutely remarkable considering the physical style in which he plays and all the miles he has put in with the Olympics, playoffs and 12 NHL seasons of over 70 games. Excluding the lockout-shortened season, the fewest number of games he has played in a season is 72.

Ovechkin has never missed more than 10 games in a single season. Ever.

So while the pundits argue over whether players like McDavid, Matthews or MacKinnon are the best in the league, don’t forget about the 33-year-old who is outscoring them all and who now also has a Stanley Cup ring to go with his already storied career.

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Nats' Max Scherzer puts pitching arm to good use thanks to Alex Ovechkin's hat trick

Nats' Max Scherzer puts pitching arm to good use thanks to Alex Ovechkin's hat trick

Washington National ace Max Scherzer is putting his throwing arm to good use in the offseason thanks to Alex Ovechkin.

The pitcher and his wife, Erica May-Scherzer, were in attendance for the Caps' 6-2 blowout win over the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night where Ovi notched a hat trick for the first time since Nov. 25, 2017.

In classic hat trick celebratory fashion, Scherzer threw his cap onto the ice at Capital One Arena.

Scherzer has always been a big supporter of the Caps. Back in June, the Cy Young Award winner and Nats first baseman, Ryan Zimmerman, led the "Lets Go Caps" chant during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. He even credited striking out 13 batters the following day to the Caps' win. 

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