Three months ago Marco Scutaro was playing poorly on a last-place team

Three months ago Marco Scutaro was playing poorly on a last-place team

Marco Scutaro hit .362 in 61 regular season games for the Giants, was named MVP of the NLCS, and delivered the World Series-winning hit in Game 4 last night. It was one helluva stint in San Francisco for the 37-year-old veteran and made even more amazing by the fact that three months ago Scutaro was…

Trotz: Caps need more production from 'certain guys'

jjpackage050516refframe_1.jpg

Trotz: Caps need more production from 'certain guys'

The second round matchup between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins looked like it was going to be an offense-heavy matchup. Four games into the series, however, it's the lack of offense that has become the story.

For the series, Washington has scored only nine goals, fewer than three per game. It's easy to immediately point the finger at Alex Ovechkin who has only one goal and two assists against Pittsburgh, but Ovechkin's line has been given the unenviable task of shutting down the Penguins' top unit. So far so good as Sidney Crosby has only one assist in the series.

Really, when talking about the Capitals' offensive struggles, the problem in this series has been secondary scoring.

"You look at the production through the playoffs, we haven't had a lot out of certain guys," Trotz said. "We just need it. We're playing a team that gets production from all four lines, we cannot afford to not have production from any lines to have a chance to win the series."

RELATED: TROTZ NAMED FINALIST FOR JACK ADAMS AWARD

It's not hard to figure out who Trotz could be talking about.

The Caps have only gotten three total points in the postseason from young offensive stars Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky. Veteran leaders Justin Williams and Mike Richards are struggling as well. Williams has four points, but his contributions have been largely negated by the six penalties he has taken. Richards, meanwhile, has zero points.

Washington's vaunted power play has also grown silent, with only one goal in 12 attempts. When asked about it after Game 4, Trotz said, "We're a hair off right now."

The team's lack of offensive production also comes at a time when they are facing a future star in net in Matt Murray.

An upper-body injury kept the rookie netminder out of the lineup until Game 3 of Pittsburgh's first round series, but he hast started ever since going 6-1 with a 1.81 GAA and .944 save percentage.

But the opportunities to beat him have been there.

Murray has given up a lot of big rebounds throughout the series, but there's been no one there up close in the crease to collect from the Caps. When teams are struggling to get the pretty goals, that's when it's time to go after the ugly ones.

When asked if he was satisfied with the amount of pressure his team was getting on Murray, Trotz said, "No because we haven't got enough goals by him. He's a good goaltender. He's playing really well. What he's doing is making some keys saves at key times. I thought he did that obviously in Game 3, he was really good and I thought he was really good in Game 2 in that third period when we had it really coming on. He made some key saves. We've got to get by that and move forward."

The problem Trotz now finds himself in is a matchup one. By going top line vs. top line, the Caps have effectively shut down Crosby's line. If Trotz tries to move away form that matchup to get his own top line more opportunities, will that allow Pittsburgh's top line more opportunities as well?

If the team can't get any production from the other three lines, it's a choice Trotz may have to make.

MORE CAPITALS: BRADEN HOLTBY BRINGS SMILE, GOALIE STICK TO YOUNG PENGUINS FAN BATTLING CANCER

Three question to ask heading into Ravens rookie minicamp Friday

ravensdraftrefframe_1.jpg

Three question to ask heading into Ravens rookie minicamp Friday

The Ravens are holding a rookie minicamp Friday and Saturday at their practice facility in Owings Mills. Saturday’s practice is the only one open to the media, so it’s still too early to ask who looks impressive. However, here are three things Ravens fans should be asking:

1. Can the team find an undrafted rookie who ultimately makes the team?

Maybe the Ravens can get lucky and add some offensive line depth with three players expected to be at minicamp – Anthony Fabiano of Harvard, Stephane Nembot of Colorado, and Matt Skura of Duke. Pass rusher Victor Ochi of Stony Brook is another player to watch.

With 11 draft picks coming in, the odds are stacked against an undrafted rookie making the team. But you never know, especially once injuries begin. Undrafted free agents who have made past Ravens rosters include wide receiver Marlon Brown, linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Bart Scott, and kicker Justin Tucker.

2. Can the Ravens get through the weekend injury free?

Injuries crushed the Ravens last season. They are hoping for much better luck in 2016, starting this weekend.

3. Who’s in great shape, and who’s not?

Being in top condition can help avoid injuries. All of these rookies have been training, but there is s a difference between a personal workout and a Ravens’ practice. Coaches will take note on who can keep pace, and who needs to get in better shape for minicamps and training camp, when the intensity will only increase.

Led by Cousins, Redskins top NFLPA's 'Rising 50' with five players

tandlerdraftnationrefframe_1.jpg

Led by Cousins, Redskins top NFLPA's 'Rising 50' with five players

The Redskins boast more players in the NFL Players Association’s ‘Rising 50’ than any other team, the union announced Thursday.

Five Redskins, led by quarterback Kirk Cousins, made the cut on the 2016 list. The Rams are second with four players, and the Cardinals, Texans, Jaguars and Seahawks each have three. 

Joining Cousins, who ranks second behind Rams running back Todd Gurley, are All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman (8th), tight end Jordan Reed (24th), running back Matt Jones (35th) and rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson (36th).

Cousins is one of four quarterbacks ranked among the top 10. Norman, meantime, is the highest ranking defensive player, while Doctson is one of 10 players who were selected in this year's draft.

What is the Rising 50? According to the NFLPA, the second annual list identifies "players best positioned to rank among the top-sellers of all officially licensed merchandise and become future retail stars." The union says it takes into account on-field performance, fantasy league popularity and early demand from current sponsors and licensees.

(To be considered for the Rising 50 players must not have appeared in previous NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales quarterly lists. Last year, 11 players from the Rising 50 ascended to the Top 50 Player Sales list during the 2015 season.)

While leading the league in players in the Rising 50 doesn’t guarantee success on the field, it does underscore the fact that second-year GM Scot McCloughan is assembling a group of talented and popular players in Washington.

Here’s the full Rising 50 list:   

  1. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
  2. Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins
  3. Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks
  4. Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
  5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
  6. Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
  7. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
  8. Josh Norman, DB, Washington Redskins
  9. Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
  10. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
  11. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
  12. Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
  13. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
  14. Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Arizona Cardinals
  15. Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago Bears
  16. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills
  17. Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos
  18. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
  19. Tyler Lockett, WR/KR, Seattle Seahawks
  20. Aaron Donald, DL, Los Angeles Rams
  21. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
  22. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
  23. Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
  24. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
  25. Brock Osweiler, QB, Houston Texans
  26. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
  27. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  28. Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns
  29. Patrick Peterson, DB, Arizona Cardinals
  30. Joey Bosa, DE, San Diego Chargers
  31. Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets
  32. Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
  33. Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
  34. Buck Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens
  35. Matt Jones, RB, Washington Redskins
  36. Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins
  37. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  38. Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns
  39. Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
  40. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
  41. Tavon Austin, WR/KR, Los Angeles Rams
  42. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions
  43. Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
  44. Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
  45. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings
  46. Malcolm Butler, CB, New England Patriots
  47. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
  48. Myles Jack, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  49. DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
  50. Blaine Gabbert, QB, San Francisco 49ers