Capitals

Ravens shifted focus to Browns

Ravens shifted focus to Browns

By the time John Harbaugh spoke with the media on Monday, the Ravens already had started looking forward to the Browns, who they meet in Baltimore Thursday night.
These guys, they certainly dont need a pep talk, Harbaugh said. Everybody in football works hard, and our guys do a great job.
Harbaugh faced a bit of a challenge because beating the Patriots at home on Sunday night thanks to Justin Tuckers last-second kick is the kind of win that means a lot to the Ravens for many reasons.
Its a bit of revenge for last seasons AFC title game loss in New England.
But when the game was done, it was done. The Ravens then started looking towards the Browns. A win against Cleveland would be a big plus for the Ravens and give them a 3-1 record and let them have a few days off with a solid start.

Our advance coaches did a great job of preparing all of us for the Browns, so when we rolled in here early this morning or late last night, whatever you want to call it, that stuff was laid out, Harbaugh said. We were ready to go to work.
The Patriots game was one of those match-ups that proved big in a number of ways. It took place at home finally and on national TV on Sunday night.
But the Ravens need to beat the Browns since thats an AFC North division battle, a win Baltimore will certainly like. The Ravens would improve to 2-0 in the division if they can beat Cleveland, who comes into the game with an 0-3 record overall.
So, its probably a fair bet that the Ravens were still smiling from time to time about finally beating the Patriots. But they also knew it was time to focus on the Browns.

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Sergei Shumakov remains a work in progress but that’s to be expected

Sergei Shumakov remains a work in progress but that’s to be expected

There is a lot of excitement over Capitals’ new winger Sergei Shumakov.

The transition from the KHL to the NHL, however, may take longer than the preseason will allow.

When Evgeny Kuznetsov heard the rumors about Shumakov possibly moving to the NHL, he was quick to reach out.

“I call his agent and call him and they said, ‘Yeah, we have a couple teams,’” Kuznetsov said. “And, then, ‘What do you mean a couple teams? It’s only one team.’ Then, after that, they signed after a couple of days.”

Thus the transition from the KHL to the NHL began.

General manager Brian MacLellan worked to keep the Capitals’ championship roster largely intact and made very few additions to the team.

Nic Dowd was signed on July 1 to compete for the fourth line center role left open by Jay Beagle’s departure. The second addition was Shumakov, a Russian player about to turn 26 with no North American experience.

Shumakov appears to be the latest of the low-risk, high-reward moves MacLellan has routinely made since taking over as general manager. The team took similar chances on Brett Connolly who has become a staple on the Caps’ bottom six and Devante Smith-Pelly who signed in 2017 after the New Jersey Devils bought him out of his contract.

“We see a player that has the ability to score and high-level skill,” MacLellan said of Shumakov. “We're not sure how it translates over here yet. We're just going to let him come in and find his way and put him in some spots and see what he can do."

Shumakov hails from the same town as Kuznetsov, Chelyabinsk, which is why Kuznetsov first reached out to Shumakov to recruit him.

“We’ve been together from 5 to 17 years old and play on the same line, so it’s always nice to have your friend,” Kuznetsov said.

But as excited as he is, Kuznetsov is also not naïve to the challenge that now faces Shumakov.

Fans are understandably excited about what Shumakov can add to the team as a tremendously skilled winger who scored 17 goals and 40 points in 47 games in the KHL last season. But the transition from the KHL to the NHL can be a challenging one.

What makes it so difficult?

“Everything,” Kuznetsov said. “The language, the game, the lifestyle, the mentality. It’s not easy when you’re 26 and you have to change everything in your life.”

The ice is smaller in North America meaning players have less room to maneuver. That makes the game faster paced and a lot more physical.

It is a transition that not everybody is able to make. For every Kuznetsov, there is a Vadim Shipachyov who lasted only three games in Vegas last season before he went back to the KHL.

That makes the preseason critical not just for the team to evaluate Shumakov, but also for him to adjust to the game.

Camp got off to an inauspicious start as visa issues delayed his arrival. Shumakov missed the first two days of camp and did not hit the ice until the fourth day. There is also a language barrier to work through as he does not speak English. When he finally did get on the ice, Reirden grouped him with the team’s other Russian players who could quickly get him up to speed on everything the coaches were saying.

Shumakov made his preseason debut on Friday and showed he is very much still a work in progress. He took a high-sticking penalty on his very first shift and ultimately finished the game with one shot on goal and no points.

With the regular season looming, Shumakov will likely need more time to adjust than the preseason will allow. One option that the team has, however, is to send Shumakov to the AHL. Not only is Shumakov on a two-way contract, but he is also waiver exempt meaning there is no risk in re-assigning him to Hershey.

The best thing to help Shumakov transition will be to play as much as possible. With the regular season only two weeks away, he may need a trip to Hershey before he is ready.

“He’s a skilled player and he can bring a lot of offensive chances to our game,” Kuznetsov said. 

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Need to Know: Final pregame thoughts on Redskins vs. Packers

Need to Know: Final pregame thoughts on Redskins vs. Packers

Here is what you need to know on Sunday, September 23, 15 days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking points

The wide receivers will have opportunities

It’s a copycat league but the Packers defense is unlikely to emulate the soft Cover 2 scheme that the Colts used to frustrate Alex Smith and the wide receivers last week. Green Bay plays a more aggressive defense with more blitzing and man coverage and they aren’t going to change that up today because of what the Colts did. This should give Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, and Jamison Crowder some opportunities to get chunk plays. It won’t be easy, but the chances will be there for the taking. 

Watch the Packers running game

The Packers don’t run the ball very often; the last two years they were 29th and 27th in the league in rushing attempts and so far this year they are 27th. Why run the ball when you have a weapon like Aaron Rodgers? While they are effective when they do run, with their average per rushing attempt ranking in the top 10 in both 2016 and 2017, it doesn’t always matter. The last four times they rushed for over 100 yards in a game they have an overtime win and three losses. It must be noted that Rodgers played in only one of those games, so we know what makes the difference there. 

A better day for Peterson?

All week long I have been talking about the matchup between the Packers stout three-man front of nose tackle Kenny Clark and ends Mike Daniels and Muhammad Wilkerson against the Redskins’ patchwork interior offensive line. I think that the Packers have the edge here and that could mean some tough sledding for Adrian Peterson. I still think that Peterson will be able to get outside some and he should have a better day than the 11 carries for 20 yards he had against the Colts. The Redskins will need extended drives for touchdowns if they are going to win and Peterson will need to be a part of it. 

Which way will the Redskins go?

This Redskins team is an inconsistent bunch. It would not be surprising at all if they followed up their flat effort against the Colts with a solid performance against the Packers. I think the passing game will be sharper and the defense will keep the Packers from being in third and short too often. Still, Rodgers will get his and the Redskins will find themselves in a shootout. I pointed out earlier this week that it’s hard to beat Green Bay if you don’t score at least 30 points. The Redskins haven’t done that since doing it back-to-back in Weeks 10 and 11 last year. They lost both of those games, to the Vikings and Saints. Maybe they can do it and I think they’ll make a run at it but it will come up short. 

Packers 28, Redskins 24

Injury report

Game status

Out: Apke (hamstring), Lauvao (calf)
Questionable: Harris (concussion), Richardson (shoulder), Brown (oblique)

For the Packers, QB Aaron Rodgers (knee) questionable, S Kevin King (groin) out

Full injury report here

The agenda

Today: Redskins Kickoff 12 noon, NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Packers 1 pm, FOX

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 15 days; Panthers @ Redskins 21; Cowboys @ Redskins 28

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