Capitals

No. 11 Louisville ready for erratic Syracuse

No. 11 Louisville ready for erratic Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Charlie Strong wants his Louisville Cardinals to enter the Carrier Dome with a big chip on their shoulders when they play Syracuse.

``I want our players to feel like they are being disrespected,'' Strong said.

Shouldn't be a problem.

Despite being one of only six unbeaten teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Louisville (9-0, 4-0 Big East) is ranked 11th in the AP Top 25 and ninth in the latest BCS standings. In the BCS, the Cardinals trail Georgia and Florida, who each have one loss, and LSU and South Carolina, with two losses apiece.

``What I would hate to see is all of a sudden we're No. 5 in the BCS,'' Strong said. ``Then our guys are going to feel like, `Hey, we have arrived. We're there.' No. Let's just keep working and then at the end see where we are.''

The Cardinals have quietly made a strong statement behind quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and will present all sorts of problems for the Orange (4-5, 3-2).

``This is the best football team that we will have played so far,'' said Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, who watched his team lose 42-29 to Matt Barkley and then-No. 2 Southern California in the second week of the season. ``Even with a tough out-of-conference schedule, I would say Teddy Bridgewater is the best quarterback that we will face so far this season. He's a playmaker.''

Indeed.

Coming off a five-touchdown performance in a 45-17 win over Temple, Bridgewater has thrown for 2,434 yards and 18 TDs with only four interceptions, has a 70.4-percent completion rate, and is ranked fifth nationally in passing efficiency (169.98).

``He's a good quarterback on film,'' Syracuse nose tackle Jay Bromley said. ``He delivers the ball on time. He extends plays with his feet. But we've faced some really good quarterbacks over the course of the season, so we're prepared for anything. We can turn this around.''

Syracuse has to win two of its final three games to achieve the six wins needed to play in a bowl game, and the Orange will rely on quarterback Ryan Nassib to lead the way. He has thrown for a school-record 2,773 yards as the Orange has produced three 500-yard receivers in a season for the first time - Marcus Sales with 722, Alec Lemon 569, and Jarrod West 523.

``It's going to be a good test for us, a team that needs to become bowl-eligible,'' Strong said. ``Now, they have to go win.''

Syracuse has excelled against the run under defensive coordinator Scott Shafer. But in a 35-24 loss last week at Cincinnati, it faltered despite a solid effort by safety Shamarko Thomas, who had 14 tackles (10 solos) and forced a fumble.

Cincinnati's George Winn was named Big East offensive player of the week on Monday. He rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns - both career highs - and threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to key the win over Syracuse. That came a week after South Florida rushed for 369 yards - a high against a Shafer defense in his 45 games at Syracuse - in a one-point loss to the Orange.

Now come Louisville's Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright. Although Bridgewater is the guy who makes the Louisville offense purr, Perry has a league-high 11 touchdown runs, Wright has nine, and the two have combined to average 151 yards rushing per game.

Though the hopes of making the postseason for the second time in three years are in jeopardy with two road games remaining, Marrone isn't looking any farther ahead than Saturday.

``I always look at it from week to week,'' he said. ``I've never really looked at it from the overall picture because you can't. I think it distracts you from the task at hand.''

The Syracuse players certainly seem focused, especially because Saturday will be Senior Day for a core group of players that have been key to helping Marrone turn around a program that was a laughingstock not so long ago.

``It's special for me,'' Nassib said. ``It's my last game in the dome. I've been in there for the last five years. I would say there's a little more extra emphasis on being a little bit more prepared, more ready to go. But at the same time I've got to make sure I don't try to do too much.''

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

The last time the Washington Capitals had a first-round draft pick, they selected a WHL defenseman. They did not go off script on Friday.

With the last pick of the first round, selecting for the first time as defending Stanley Cup champions, the Capitals selected Alexander Alexeyev, a left-shooting, two-way defenseman from St. Petersburg.

Alexeyev, 18, certainly boasts NHL size at 6' 4", 196 pounds. He currently plays for Red Deer in the WHL, a junior league that has become a major pipeline for the Capitals. In his second season with Red Deer, he tallied 37 points in 45 games.

The NHL Central Scouting's rankings list Alexeyev as the 22nd best North American skater of the draft. TSN projects him to be a top-four, two-way defenseman.

Analyst Craig Button described Alexeyev as a "Smart, effective defenceman who moves the puck, plays with a calm and doesn't make things complicated for himself."

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