Capitals

Seattle's playoff road history not a pretty view

Seattle's playoff road history not a pretty view

RENTON, Wash. (AP) While they are one of the hottest teams going into the postseason, there's a lot of past playoff futility for the Seattle Seahawks to overcome - nearly three decades worth.

Seemingly unbeatable at home, the road - especially in the postseason - has been a different tale for the Seahawks. It's been 29 years since Seattle last won a playoff game on the road. They've lost eight straight road playoff games since winning at Miami on Dec. 31, 1983, when only nine players on their current 53-man roster were even born.

On Sunday, Seattle (11-5) travels to the East Coast to take on another hot team, the Washington Redskins (10-6). The Seahawks have won five in a row, and seven of their last eight; Washington brings a seven-game winning streak into the game.

``If you want to be a good team you definitely got to be able to win on the road,'' Seattle defensive end Red Bryant said. ``You never get a scenario exactly how you want it unless you fortunate enough to be like Atlanta.''

The Falcons earned home field throughout the NFC playoffs by finishing 13-3. After being the only team to go 8-0 at home, the only way Seattle can return home for a postseason is if it somehow ends up playing Minnesota for the NFC title.

``In terms of us going forward, we've got to go on the road and we're looking forward to it,'' Bryant said.

There was a reason Seattle coach Pete Carroll hoped his team could get at least one home playoff game - the Seahawks have some forgettable road playoff losses.

After beating Miami in the `83 playoffs, the Seahawks were routed 30-14 by the Los Angeles Raiders in the AFC championship game despite beating the Raiders twice in the regular season.

Seattle was routed at Miami in 1984 and in 1987 fell 23-20 at Houston in overtime after rallying to tie the game in the final minute of regulation. Seattle won the AFC West for the first time in 1988, only to get top-seeded Cincinnati in the playoff opener and a 21-13 loss.

After a lengthy drought with just one playoff appearance, the Seahawks started their run of success in the middle of 2000s with a wild-card berth and a trip to Green Bay in 2003. Shaun Alexander scored with 51 seconds left to pull Seattle even at 27 and force overtime where, after winning the coin toss, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck told referee Bernie Kukar, ``We want the ball and we're going to score,'' as a playful jab to former teammate Brett Favre.

Hasselbeck then threw an interception on the first possession of overtime that Al Harris returned it 52 yards for a game-winning touchdown.

There was another overtime loss in 2006, this time at Chicago, and losses to Green Bay (2007) and again to the Bears (2010) to complete the eight-pack of road woes.

Carroll said the challenge this week is not getting wrapped up in playing on the road.

``There will be a feel about the playoffs, there's always a kind of air about it that you can sense it's different, but the key is not allowing that to factor in to what it really takes to prepare well and not miss the message,'' Carroll said. ``They will be as excited to play, and I think everybody is going to have great focus this week just because it is the playoffs, but that's something we're trying to create on a regular basis so that when we get to this time we've already been there done that.''

Seattle got a significant break in the schedule by landing the late afternoon Sunday game on the opening weekend. The Seahawks are following their normal regular season practice schedule and continuing with a trend of flying to the East Coast two days before kickoff that Carroll started in his first season.

Washington cornerback Josh Wilson knows the difficulty of making that West-to-East trip. He played for the Seahawks from 2007-09 and will now face his former team on Sunday.

``This game being at 4:30 actually may help them a little bit,'' Wilson said. ``It's definitely tough when you have that 1 o'clock game. It feels like about 10 o'clock to you. You wake up three hours before the game, so it's about 7 o'clock in your mind. It's tough to travel that long distance.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

The Dougie Hamilton-Alex Ovechkin drama continued in Game 6 and the internet has thoughts

ovi-flapping.jpg
NBC Sports

The Dougie Hamilton-Alex Ovechkin drama continued in Game 6 and the internet has thoughts

Alex Ovechkin's assist to Brett Connolly in Game 5 started when Carolina Hurricanes defender Dougie Hamilton shied away from Ovechkin's imminent check.

To start Game 6, Ovechkin tried to ram Hamilton along the boards again, but Hamilton sidestepped him to get the puck to safety.

After Ovechkin tumbled to the ice when he missed the hit, he made his way back to the bench, when he appeared to, well, you decide.

Ovechkin's mocking did not go unnoticed by the broadcast crew on NBC Sports Network or by fans on Twitter. "And there it is, that's what Eddie was talking about," chuckled Pierre McGuire as Ovechkin appeared to raise his arms like a clucking chicken.

The Hurricanes would respond with a goal to even the game 1-1, but Ovechkin answered back at 15:12 of the first period on an assist from Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen to make it 2-1 Capitals.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS

Quick Links

The baffling exclusion of John Carlson from the Norris Trophy finalists

john_carlson_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

The baffling exclusion of John Carlson from the Norris Trophy finalists

The finalists for the Norris Trophy – awarded to the defenseman who demonstrates the greatest all-around ability in the position – were unveiled on Sunday. Somehow, John Carlson was not among them.

This is the second consecutive year Carlson was a deserving candidate and the second year he will not even be among the top three.

The Norris Trophy is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association -- of which I am a member so I guess you can blame us -- but make no mistake, this is a snub in every sense of the word and a major oversight that Carlson cannot get the recognition he deserves.

Ballots will be made public after the awards are given out. Until then, we are not supposed to divulge exactly how we voted, but I will tell you that Carlson was in my top three, and he absolutely should have been a finalist this year.

If you had asked me prior to the 2017-18 season who the most important defenseman on the Caps was, I would have told you it was Matt Niskanen. I saw Carlson as an offensive-heavy player whose skills in his own zone were lacking. I had to eat those words later as Niskanen was injured in mid-October and missed the next month of the season. During that month, Carlson averaged 27:47 of ice-time per game, which led the entire league. He showed he could contribute offensively, defensively, on the power play and penalty kill. There was nothing he could not do.

Suddenly, the Caps’ top pairing of Dmitry Orlov and Niskanen was replaced by Carlson and whoever he was paired with. That continued into this season.

But while Carlson has reshaped his image in Washington, his reputation as an offensive first player instead of an all-around defenseman persists, and it cost him.

There is no set standard every voter sticks to when it comes to evaluating players for the Norris. You can look at whatever stats you want whether it is Corsi, Fenwick, points, PDO, defensive zone starts, high-danger chances for -- the list goes on. Here’s why Carlson was in the top three of my ballot: Not only did he play exceptionally well, but the Capitals relied on him more in more situations than any other team relied on a single defenseman.

Carlson finished the season ranked eighth in the NHL in time on ice per game at 25:04. Burns finished just ahead of him with 25:06. Both Giordano (24:14) and Hedman (22:46) played less.

Carlson was among the top 40 defensemen in shorthanded time on ice per game with 2:35, something only Giordano (2:40) could boast among the other finalists. Carlson was also first among all defensemen in power play time on ice per game with 4:05, significantly more than Hedman (3:19), Giordano (3:19) or Burns (3:17).

There is no situation in which the Caps are not comfortable putting Carlson out on the ice and no situation in which he is not expected to play heavy minutes. He has taken a bigger role defensively as the team’s top shutdown pair of Orlov-Niskanen has had a down year. Despite the heavier defensive workload, Carlson still managed to finish in the top four in points among defensemen with 70, a career-high.

I am not here saying that Burns, Giordano or Hedman are not deserving of being finalists. In fact, Carlson did not finish first on my ballot. It seems crazy to me, however, that he did not finish in the top three this season or last. All three finalists had strong seasons, but Carlson’s season was just as good and he was more heavily relied upon. He is one of the top offensive blueliners, but that’s not all he is.

Until he manages to overcome that reputation, which persists through no fault of his own, he will continue to be on the outside of the Norris race looking in. And that’s a shame considering how good he has been.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS