Wizards

Surging Bucs beat Chargers 34-24 for 3rd in row

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Surging Bucs beat Chargers 34-24 for 3rd in row

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Josh Freeman threw two touchdown passes and the surging Buccaneers scored on a blocked punt and Leonard Johnson's 83-yard interception return to beat the Chargers 34-24 for their third straight win Sunday.

Freeman has thrown for 13 TDs with one interception in his past five games, helping the Bucs (5-4) win four times to climb back over .500 following a 1-3 start.

Rivers threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns for San Diego. He was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter to ruin any chance of the Chargers (4-5) coming from behind.

Bucs linebacker Quincy Black was carted off the field after tackling running back Ryan Matthews for a 1-yard loss late in the third quarter. There was no immediate announcement on the nature of the injury, however trainers examined the sixth-year pro for several minutes before immobilizing his neck and back and strapping him to a stretcher.

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

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Wizards will play against Knicks in London in 2018-19 regular season game

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Wizards will play against Knicks in London in 2018-19 regular season game

The Wizards will be heading across the pond next year to play a regular season game in London, England against the New York Knicks, the NBA announced on Wednesday.

The game is set for January 17 at the O2 arena in southeast London. It is usually used for concerts, but has become a popular location for NBA international showcase games. Last season, the Sixers and Celtics played there, also in January.

This will be the ninth NBA game played in England and the first for the Wizards. Washington point guard John Wall shared his reaction in the press release.

“It will be an honor to represent the Washington Wizards organization as we play our first game in the UK,” Wall said. “I look forward to connecting with our fans in London and using the experience to further bond as a team.”

The Wizards have several international players on their roster including Marcin Gortat (Poland), Ian Mahinmi (France) and Tomas Satoransky (Czech Republic).

The Wizards last played overseas in 2013 when they had a preseason game in Brazil. This is the first international regular season game in franchise history.

Majority owner Ted Leonsis also reacted to the news via the team's website.

“We are excited about the opportunity to play our first overseas regular season game in London next year,” said Leonsis. “The Wizards have a long tradition of playing international exhibition games and we love the chance to be global ambassadors for the game. We’re looking forward to getting the chance to play in front of fans in the UK.”

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Who are the Caps' award winners this season?

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USA TODAY Sports

Who are the Caps' award winners this season?

There won't be any suspense for the Capitals on Wednesday night during the NHL Awards show (8 p.m., NBCSN). Alex Ovechkin will receive the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer, but no other Caps are up for any other hardware.

Instead, let's give out some of our own.

If the NHL awards were reserved just for the Capitals, here's who would be getting each trophy for the 2017-18 season:

Calder Memorial Trophy (best rookie): Jakub Vrana

The Caps had nine players play for the team this season who qualified as rookies according to the NHL: Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek, Nathan Walker, Shane Gersich, Travis Boyd and Liam O'Brien. Each of the first four were certainly worthy of consideration.

Vrana gets the nod with his 13 goals and 27 points. His game did suffer some inconsistencies throughout the season, but each rookie experienced that as well. Djoos and Bowey played major roles for the Caps this season as both were called upon to be regular blue liners, but they were largely protected by how they were utilized by Barry Trotz.

The deciding factor for me was this: Who was a better fit this season, Vrana when he played in the top six or Djoos when he played in the top four? The answer for me was Vrana.

Lady Byng  Memorial Trophy (sportsmanship combined with high standard of play): Chandler Stephenson

Stephenson recorded 18 points and proved to be a valuable member of the bottom six, but what really stood out was how clean his game was.

Here's a look at the players with the fewest PIM for the Caps this season: Jerabek (0 PIM), Gersich (0), Boyd (2), Tyler Graovac (2), Walker (4), Anthony Peluso (4), O'Brien (5), Stephenson (8), Taylor Chorney (8), Aaron Ness (8).

Excluding Stephenson, Chorney played the most with 24 games. Everyone else played in 11 games or fewer. Stephenson played in 67.

Bill Masteron Memorial Trophy (perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey): Devante Smith-Pelly

This award is unique in that every team gets a nominee as voted on by each local chapter of the Pro Hockey Writer's Association (of which I am a member). All 31 candidates are then voted on by the PHWA at large. I will go with the Capitals' nominee from this season, Smith-Pelly.

Smith-Pelly was bought out of his contract last season by the New Jersey Devils and came to the Caps on a two-way contract. He filled a key role for the Caps on the bottom-six all season despite a shaky training camp and played in 75 games with 16 points.

When faced with racial taunts from fans in Chicago, Smith-Pelly reacted with class and grace in the wake of the incident. The way he handled the situation allowed for a negative to turn into a positive as Chicago fans raised and donated $23,000 to Fort Dupont.

Frank J. Selke Trophy (best defensive forward): Jay Beagle

No Caps forward had a lower percentage of offensive zone starts than Beagle. His 58.5-percent faceoff win percentage was among the league's best. He also blocked 44 shots per game over the course of the season, sixth among the team's forwards, but he had less ice time than all but one of the five forwards ahead of him.

James Norris Memorial Trophy (best defenseman): John Carlson

This one's a slam dunk. Before Michal Kempny was brought on, defensive depth was the obvious weakness of the Caps even before an injury forced Matt Niskanen out of the lineup for 14 games. Carlson was called upon to play nearly 30 minutes a night and he proved himself capable of playing strong, hard minutes on both ends of the ice.

Carlson's 68 points led all defensemen in the league. In a contract year, he earned himself a lot of money with how he played this season.

Vezina Trophy (best goalie): Philipp Grubauer

This one was tough, but considering this is a regular season award, the nod has to go to Grubauer.

Yes, Braden Holtby played in 54 games, 19 more than Grubauer, and he earned 34 wins, 19 more than Grubauer managed. But Grubauer's superiority when it comes to the stats is undeniable.

Holtby: 54 GP, 34-16-4, .907 save percentage, 2.99 GAA, 0 shutouts
Grubauer: 35 GP, 15-10-3, .923 save percentage, 2.35 GAA, 3 shutouts

From Nov. 1 through the rest of the regular season, no goalie who appeared in at least 20 games had a better GAA than Grubauer and only two netminders recorded a better save percentage.

Grubauer stepped in to stabilize the Caps in net when Holtby was in the midst of the worst slump of his career and he helped Washington win the Metropolitan Division with a strong finish to the season, especially in a brilliant performance in Pittsburgh.

There is no doubt Holtby remains the Caps' No. 1 given what he did in the postseason and revisionist history will have many questioning why Grubauer started for the Caps at the beginning of the postseason. If you followed the team all year, however, there was no question who the stronger netminder was at the end of the regular season.

Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP): Alex Ovechkin

Who else?

Carlson comes in at a close second because of what he was tasked to do on defense, but Ovechkin was the MVP for this team.

Not only did he lead the team in points with 87, the Great 8 once again found the fountain of youth scoring 49 goals to lead the NHL after tallying just 33 the season before. His 49 goals accounted for over 19-percent of the Caps' goals this season. Had Ovechkin scored the same number of goals as he did last season, that would have knocked the Caps from 9th in goals all the way down to 15th. That's how important his resurgent offensive performance was to the team.

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