Risk taker, shot maker: Dolgopolov wins Citi Open

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Risk taker, shot maker: Dolgopolov wins Citi Open

Alexandr Dogolpolov likes risk, like driving racecars in excess of 200 miles per hour kind of risk. The 23-year-old brings that daring edge with him to his day job. When the rains stopped, the final ball struck on the slick Stadium court, it was the No. 2 seed taking the Citi Open checkered flag.Neither rain nor humidity nor playing into the gloom of night could stop Dogolpolov from the biggest win of his career. He put a stamp on a weeks worth of strong performances by delivering Tommy Haas a rare finals loss on U.S. soil, 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-1 triumph in the Citi Open championship on Sunday.Absent throughout the week, cascading rain chose the inopportune time of the mens championship for its first substantial visit at the Fitzgerald Tennis Center. The match started shortly after 4 p.m. with a strong contingent watching on the Stadium Court. By the time play resumed after two first-set delays totaling two hours and 52 minutes, only an intimate crowd of 250 or so remained for the back-and-forth affair that turned one-sided late.With a match like that thats really tight, goes up and down, the rain breaks, I am really happy that I stayed concentrated and was in the match all the three sets, said Dogolpolov after his second career title. Im just happy to win it.Those that stuck around witnessed Haas tough out a first set tiebreaker, but also the start of the 34-year-old wearing down physically and mentally. Haas missed significant time in recent years with hip and shoulder injuries, but has reached three finals this summer including a win over Roger Federer.The tennis diehardsalso saw the continuation of Dolgopolov smacking ever-widening serves, finessing timely drop shots and taking chances with his groundstrokes others might deem unwise. I like risking in life so I do that on the court. I just like playing tennis like that, said Dogolpolov, who made his Washington debut this week. Im just a risky person. I dont think about the percentages, I like to do it my way.After squandering a set point at 6-5 in the first, Haas fired his racket to the ground. When he struggled with his first service game of the second set audible outbursts started becoming part of his routine. Frustration rose when Dogolpolov saved a break point at 2-all with a nifty volley winner. Facing break point at 4-all, 30-40, Haass backhand went long, one of his 43 unforced errors in the match. He lost the set, his first all week. When Haasdropped four straight points on his serve to fall behind 0-2 in the third, it was just a matter of time before he lost his second set.Hes a shot maker, he goes for his stuff, said Haas, who fell to 8-1 in finals played on U.S. soil. I thought I stayed with it until the middle, the end of the second set. Had a break point and he came up with a good shot and sometimes you just have to say it was too well played. When I lost the second set, I think I cracked a little bit mentally.Dolgopolov noticed.He was giving away more free points than he did in the first set and throughout the tournament, the Kiev, Ukraine native said. I think it was a part of him, a part of it being the final, a part of my game. It all helped it to go wrong for him.Dolgopolov jumped back into the top 20 after falling outside last week. His one win and three finals appearances on tour came in lower-tier events, making Washingtons 500 level opportunity the biggest of his career.Before the mens final and the skies opened, Alexandria native Treat Huey and former University of Virginia teammate Dominic Inglot defeated Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson 7-6 (7), 6-7 (9) and 10-5 in a third-set super-tiebreaker.Huey, a St. Stephens and St. Agnes graduate, was a regular whenever the mens tour came to the Rock Creek Park courts. All these years, his first win on tour Huey and Inglot lost a finals appearance earlier this year - comes on the very same grounds.It has been unbelievable to play here in Washington, said the 26-year-old Huey. I always watched this tournament when I was a little kid. Dominic and I had a fun week here. Its always more fun when you win.

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2016-17 Season Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

2016-17 Season Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.

Team: Pittsburgh Penguins

How they did last season: 48-26-8 (104 points), 2nd in the Metropolitan, 2nd in the Eastern Conference. They went the distance beating the Rangers, Caps, Lightning and Sharks to win the Stanley Cup.

Notable acquisitions: D Stuart Percy

Notable departures: D Ben Lovejoy; G Jeff Zatkoff

When they will play the Caps: Oct. 13 in Pittsburgh; Nov. 16 in Washington; Jan. 11 in Washington; Jan. 16 in Pittsburgh

RELATED: ALEX OVECHKIN TIES THE KNOT

Analysis: The Pittsburgh Penguins took a very different approach to the offseason than what we see from teams like the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks dismantle their roster every offseason to avoid cap trouble and keep the core intact. The Penguins, however, elected to keep the roster largely together after winning the Stanley Cup and will feature essentially the exact same lineup this season.

There’s no question this team has a roster capable of being among the top in the league because they did it just last year, but we should not automatically expect the Penguins to look like the same team they were in the playoffs through an 82-game season.

Head coach Mike Sullivan faces a different challenge as he will coach the team through an entire season, unlike last year in which he took over in December for the fired Mike Johnston. Those are two very different scenarios. Sullivan's success last year does not guarantee success as the new full-time coach, just ask Dan Bylsma who also led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup after taking over midseason.

The biggest question for the Penguins is in net. Despite how well the young Matt Murray played in the playoffs, Marc-Andre Fleury also returns. How will the team divide the starts? Who will be the team’s No. 1? With the expansion draft looming, the Penguins must get rid of Fleury before June 21 because of his no-movement clause, otherwise they would be obligated to protect him from the draft thus exposing the 22-year-old Murray. They won't do that. Sometime between

The question of whether Fleury will be traded is something that will hang over the team’s head throughout the entire season.

Season prediction: The Penguins have more questions than you would expect for a defending champ returning essentially the same roster. Can Sullivan find the same success through a full season? Will the situation in net become a distraction? Will the rest of the NHL figure the Penguins out?

There’s a reason no team has won the Stanley Cup twice in a row since 1997 and 1998. The stars have to align perfectly and every other team in the league is gunning for you. Plus, the playoffs are physically and mentally exhausting which makes this the wrong year for the World Cup of Hockey which will give Pittsburgh's top players even less time to recover.

Having said all of that, I don’t see this team taking a step back and if they do, it will be a small one. Few teams can come close to the scoring depth this team boasts and, even some members of the supporting cast are due for a dropoff in production (Matt Cullen), scoring goals won’t be a problem for Pittsburgh.

The Penguins don’t just have a roster tailored for success, they have a roster that multiple general managers have tried replicating this summer. If Pittsburgh does run out of gas, it will come in the postseason. Until then, the Penguins will find themselves among the top teams in the conference and poised for a title defense come April.

MORE HOCKEY: SAMSONOV GIVES GLOWING REVIEW OF FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH CAPS

2016-2017 NHL TEAM PREVIEWS

Pacific Division
— Anaheim Ducks
— Arizona Coyotes
— Calgary Flames
— Edmonton Oilers
— Los Angeles Kings
— San Jose Sharks
— Vancouver Canucks

Central Division
— Chicago Blackhawks
— Colorado Avalanche
— Dallas Stars
— Minnesota Wild
— Nashville Predators
— St. Louis Blues
— Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
— Detroit Red Wings
— Florida Panthers
— Montreal Canadiens
— Ottawa Senators
— Tampa Bay Lightning
— Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division
— Carolina Hurricanes
— Columbus Blue Jackets
— New Jersey Devils
— New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
— Washington Capitals (coming Aug. 30)

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Paul Kruger released from Browns - Could the former Raven help the Redskins?

Paul Kruger released from Browns - Could the former Raven help the Redskins?

Just one season removed from an 11-sack campaign, the Browns released edge rusher Paul Kruger. Lacking depth at the outside linebacker position after the Junior Galette injury in July, Kruger might make sense in Washington. 

Kruger signed with the Browns in 2013 for a big-money contract (5 years/$40 million) after a successful start to his career with the Ravens. In Baltimore, Kruger rushed the quarterback opposite Terrell Suggs, freeing him up for 15.5 sacks in four years. His breakout season came in 2012, when the Ravens won the Super Bowl and Kruger logged nine sacks.

While he never lived up to the money in Cleveland, Kruger did have a strong year in 2014 when he totaled 11 sacks. Last year, however, his sack total dropped to just 2.5, leaving few surprised by his release from the Browns. 

What happens next for Kruger will be interesting. At 30-years-old, the former second-round pick out of Utah likely still has good football left, and could be available to a team on a one-year, incentive type deal.

Specifically in Washington, GM Scot McCloughan may be interested to inquire about Kruger. Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith are top-form outside linebackers, but after that, the Redskins roster boasts few sure things at the position. Trent Murphy is capable, not spectacular, and the fourth OLB spot could be manned by a player like Houston Bates or Lynden Trail. Even in a diminished role, Kruger can compete with the group behind Kerrigan and Smith.

Some on the Redskins staff hinted while in Richmond that the team would look outside the organization for help on the edge as cuts started to happen around the league. Kruger is just one name - and there will be plenty more - but he's a name that has some intrigue. 

MORE REDSKINS: TIME TO BRING BACK POT ROAST?

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Could Redskins bring back Terrance Knighton to help in the middle?

Could Redskins bring back Terrance Knighton to help in the middle?

When Terrance Knighton signed with the Patriots this offseason, word was the Redskins tried to talk him into staying in Washington up until the last minute. The man affectionately known as "Pot Roast" gave the 'Skins some good play at nose tackle in 2015, and the team and fans liked Knighton. But the big man with 96 career starts in seven years as a pro chose to go home to New England. 

The Redskins, however, may get the chance to bring back Knighton after all.

Knighton has dealt with weight issues throughout his NFL career as well as debilating cluster headaches that forced him to miss games and practice time. In 2015, Knighton played well at times for the Redskins, but was not the high-impact player that he demonstrated with the Broncos in 2014. With the Redskins, Pro Football Focus rated Knighton at +5.7, good, but down significantly from his +18.7 in Denver in 2014.

MORE REDSKINS: WHO WILL MAKE THE 53-MAN ROSTER?

That said, Knighton would likely be a welcome addition for Washington. The team lacks a true nose tackle, and at 6-foot-2 and 300 lbs., Knighton fits the role well. Further, Knighton knows the players - especially his best friend from childhood Chris Baker - the coaches and the scheme. 

Stopping the run cold be a problem for Washington this fall, and while Pot Roast will not change that on his own, he can be a good piece of a defensive line rotation. That assumes, though, that Knighton is in shape and ready to play. Pro Football Focus shows that Knighton has played 36 snaps this preseason, though he did not play New England's last preseason game against the Panthers.