Any thoughts of the month-long Olympic break being a panacea for all that ailed the Washington Mystics during the first half of the season is quickly evaporating. Perhaps returning to their home turf changes the momentum for the Eastern Conferences last place team; it certainly cannot hurt.Dealt back-to-back road games against likely playoff teams opening the second half of the season, the Mystics (4-16) fanned the flames in consecutive. Washington committed 34 turnovers in the two games, and the lowest scoring team in the WNBA failed to crack the 70-point plateau in either contest. Fridays 98-69 drubbing against Minnesota was Washington second-largest margin of defeat this season.None of the players participated in the London games. The time off was used for plenty of practice sessions. The extra work is not showing through just yet."It was tough, but you know we had our whole team here, forward Crystal Langhorne said of the back-to-back scenario. We didn't really have anybody at the Olympics so we had a lot of practice time. We still don't have any excuses for the way we played."One sort of excuse the playing on the road thing goes away Sunday when the Mystics host the Chicago Sky (4 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). Thats a good thing because there is plenty to correct elsewhere."We turned the ball over too much here, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said following the loss to the Lynx. We had 19 turnovers and they scored 32 points off our turnovers. So that's an obvious area we need improvement on, and really our interior defense and transition defense. I mean, they scored 54 points in the paint, a lot of that came off our turnovers.Washington stands 0-2 against the Chicago this season, including a 69-57 season-opening loss at the Verizon Center.The Mystics roster underwent a major overhaul this offseason with seven newcomers doting the opening night lineup. With so many changes and a small pre-season window with which to mesh, the Mystics used the midseason break as an on-court gelling opportunity, or so they hoped."We worked on our different defenses. We worked on taking care of the ball, and today it didn't show at all what we've been working on as a team, said Langhorne, who scored 12 points against Minnesota, matching Monique Currie and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton for team-high honors.The blowout loss against Minnesota provided Lacey an opportunity to keep her younger and lesser-used players in the lineup. Second-year guard Jasmine Thomas started and scored six points, but missed seven of nine shots and committed three turnovers. First-round pick Natalie Novosel played 21 minutes and doled out a team-best four assists. Wisdom-Hylton sank 5 of 6 field goal attempts and grabbed five rebounds.We used this opportunity to play a lot of our young players and give them some game experience, Lacey said. So we think that will help us down the road."Despite Gold Medalists Sylvia Fowles and Swin Cash on the roster, the Sky (8-10) are enduring their own struggles, having lost five straight and nine of 10 games. The latest setback, 82-76 at home on Friday against Atlanta despite 13 points and six rebounds from Fowles, the leagues leading rebounder with 12 boards per game.In two games against Washington, the 6-foot-6 Fowles averaged 21 points, 14 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.Monique Currie topped the Mystics scorers with 15 points ina 65-63 loss in Chicago on June 1.
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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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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