From Comcast SportsNetCLEVELAND (AP) -- Terry Francona's interview to be the Cleveland Indians' next manager is under way.Francona, who managed the Boston Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, arrived at Progressive Field at 8:15 a.m. on Friday to begin a daylong interview. Francona spent time on the field watching Indians employees play in a softball tournament. Francona worked as an adviser in Cleveland's front office in 2001 and has said he would like the chance to rejoin the club.Francona spent the past year working as a TV analyst. He was fired in Boston last season after the team collapsed down the stretch.On Thursday, Sandy Alomar Jr. interviewed with the Indians. He served as the club's interim manager for the final six games after Manny Acta was dismissed.The Indians may name a new manager as early as next week.
The last time the Ravens played at New England, they lost a riveting divisional playoff game, 35-31, after twice leading by 14 points.
That loss in the 2014 playoffs was one of the most painful defeats of Joe Flacco’s career. With the Ravens preparing to visit the Patriots again Monday night, Flacco is reminding teammates that no lead is safe against the Patriots until the game is over.
“You do not want to just wait and hope that they do not come back,” said the Ravens quarterback. “You still have to take your chances.”
Flacco has preached playing aggressively all season, and coming off an impressive 38-6 win over the Dolphins, the Ravens are entering Monday night’s game playing as well offensively as they have all season The Ravens are 4-1 over their last five games, with Flacco throwing 10 touchdown passes during that stretch.
However, that doesn’t change these facts. The Patriots (10-2) have the best record in the AFC. The Ravens thought they were ready to beat the Cowboys (11-1) last month, but lost 27-17 and got dominated in the second half.
This is another chance for the Ravens to measure themselves against one of the NFL’s heavyweights. Flacco said he was eager to find out how the Ravens would fare.
“We have had to go up there a good amount late in the season, in the playoffs, and I think that gives you a sense of confidence to go up there and to get the job done,” Flacco said. “When you have not experienced it much I think they are a team that can intimidate some people. But I don’t think that is us.”
Since enduring a protracted dry spell in early November, the Capitals’ power play has begun to resemble the dangerous unit that in past seasons helped bolster the team’s offense.
In fact, over the past nine games, the power play has struck at least once in six of those contests. Over the past four games, it's been even more effective, procuding a total of four goals, including the pair it potted in Friday’s 4-1 win over the Sabres.
“They’re getting some confidence by having some success,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “[Questions were] asked of me every day. And we said, ‘We’re doing good things, so just stay with it.’ They stayed with it.”
Entering Sunday’s showdown with the Canucks, who are coming off a 4-2 loss in South Florida on Saturday night, the Capitals’ power play had jumped up to slightly-more-respectable 16th in the NHL, with a success rate of 16.7-percent.
It’s still a far cry from the top-5 spot that the unit has become accustomed to occupying in recent years. But it’s progress.
“We’ve done pretty good things out there,” said defenseman John Carlson, who scored his first goal of the season, on the man advantage, against Buffalo. “Like my personal [offensive struggles], we could definitely be better. We could work harder and give each other better passes and stuff like that.”
“But,” he added, “it’s good to get some mojo back and get a little life into that thing. It’s been a big part of our team, so we knew we needed to definitely turn that around.”
There have been some subtle structural changes to the power play in recent weeks. There have been some personnel tweaks, as well. There has also seemed to be a greater commitment to getting to the net, setting screens and hunting for second opportunities. Alex Ovechkin has the most power goals with four, though six different players, including Brett Connolly and Jakub Vrana, have scored on the man advantage over the past eight contests.
And while all of that factors in, the biggest difference, according to Trotz and Carlson, has been the players’ growing belief that the puck will go in. That increased confidence allows them to play a bit looser, a little faster and, most important, a tick more decisively.
“They knew that the skill level hadn’t changed,” Trotz said. “The holes [in the opponent’s penalty kill] hadn’t changed. They’re tweaking it in terms of a few things, but it was just staying with the plan and not throwing it out the door. They just stayed with the plan and executed and now pucks are starting to go in.”
Trotz added: “They’ve got a little confidence. [During Friday’s morning skate] they were throwing it around and, as coaches, we were saying, ‘They’re starting to feel it again.’ This game is a lot about confidence…and they were lacking a little bit of trust in their own game. They’re starting to trust their game again.”