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RG3 accuses the Rams of playing dirty

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RG3 accuses the Rams of playing dirty

From Comcast SportsNetASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- Pushed and shoved throughout a game he felt was "unprofessional" and "dirty," Robert Griffin III finally heard the obvious from one of the St. Louis Rams defensive players."I remember one play," the Washington Redskins quarterback said. "After the play, the guy said: We're going to hit you every play.'"I said: Isn't this football?' It's nothing that I'm not used to. It was extremely weird the way they went about it, though."Sunday's 31-28 loss was barely over when the Redskins starting talking about replacement officials who had lost control and Rams players who were engaged in too much rough stuff after the whistle.A few days have gone by, but it's still too raw to let it rest. Griffin is going to handle the ball a lot this year -- he already had 20 rushes in addition to 55 pass attempts -- so the Redskins don't want him taking any extra hits, especially ones that he feels aren't clean."There was some extracurricular stuff going on after the plays," Griffin said. "They were doing a lot of dirty things. I still think they have an extremely good team, that doesn't take anything away from them, but the game was unprofessional. Who am I to talk? I've barely been a pro for very long, but from what I experienced against the Saints compared to that game, it was definitely unprofessional and it does need to be cleaned up."Griffin was sacked only once by the Rams, but he was knocked down several times."I don't want to tip-toe the lines of anything that's happened with bounties or anything like that, but they were definitely going after me," Griffin said. "They made it a point, obviously, all week to hit me. Some of the shots were cheap of that nature. But it's nothing I can control. Teams are going to try to hit me because they don't think I can take a hit. I think I've proved over my career that I can."It's something the Redskins have to watch as they prepare for this week's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The replacement officials are getting a reputation for letting players get away with more."You have to have people take control," coach Mike Shanahan said. "And there wasn't any control in that game. Hopefully officials next week will take control. That's what you have to do as an official."If the first couple of weeks are any indication, the Redskins (1-1) are going to have to rely on Griffin more than planned this season. Traditionally, rookie quarterbacks succeed when they're surrounded by a solid running game and good defense, but Washington has already allowed 63 points and has lost injured defensive starters Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker for the season.Griffin and the offense were able to outscore the Saints in Week 1 and came close to beating the Rams. The Redskins actually lead the NFL in scoring with 68 points, and they might have to keep up that pace unless the defense improves."We've definitely got to put up a lot of points to help them out until they get their situation on that side of the ball fixed with the injuries and the stuff like that," tight end Fred Davis said.Griffin also had the usual humorous and insightful moments during his weekly news conference, including the latest update on his ongoing marketing tussle with NFL uniform sponsor Nike.Griffin, who has a deal with Adidas, upset the league office when he covered up the Nike swoosh with the letter "H" to spell the word "heart" on his official team warm-up shirt before the opener against the Saints.So, he instead wore a plain gray T-shirt over the warm-up shirt when he took field before the Saints game. Asked if he was covering up the swoosh because of his Adidas allegiance, he laughed."Um. Nah. It's, uh. Yes," he finally said. "There's no way around that one. I can't dance around that one. In the preseason I had a blank, white, normal NFL equipment one, and they took it and gave me the other one. I just wanted to have a blank shirt on, and I'll probably have a blank one on the next game."Meanwhile, a visiting Japanese reporter joined in the RG3 hoopla, asking Griffin about the fact that he was born in Japan as the son of military parents."I'd like to thank my mom and dad for having me over there," he said.But Griffin didn't play any football in Japan. His mother declared it off-limits."My mom wouldn't let me play football as a kid," he said. "She didn't want me to get hurt. I didn't play until I was in seventh grade."Which means his mother probably wasn't happy with that Rams game, either.NOTES:CB Josh Morgan has been cleared to practice after sustaining a concussion against the Rams. He was officially listed as limited Wednesday. Asked how many concussions he's had, he answered: "I think that's a funny question. I don't remember." ... WR Pierre Garcon (foot) and S Brandon Meriweather (knee) were also limited.

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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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