UPDATE: Schwimer’s agent, Jeff Borris, tells Salisbury that no grievance has been filed against the Phillies. However, he did ask the MLBPA to investigate the matter. It’s still possible a grievance could be filed. “I believed Michael could have been sent down while he was hurt so I turned the matter over to the union…
With no Kris Letang for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4, all signs pointed to the Washington Capitals evening up the series at two games. Instead, the Caps were handed a 3-2 overtime loss and now head back to Washington on the verge of elimination.
It was a golden opportunity missed by the Caps, even if the players don't want to admit it.
"They have lots of other guys that are good too," Nicklas Backstrom said. "I feel like they’re a good team."
"Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players," Jay Beagle said. "It was just a matter of we needed to win the game and get the split here and head back to our barn."
Whether the Caps want to acknowledge it or not, the impact of a player like Letang is undeniable.
Letang, Pittsburgh's top defenseman, was suspended for Game 4 due to a high hit he delivered to Marcus Johansson in Game 3. While everyone knows about the Penguins' star forwards like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Letang remains one of the team's most important players. Through the first three games of the series, he has averaged over 32 minutes per game. That means Pittsburgh, already playing without Olli Maatta who has been out since taking a high hit from Brooks Orpik in Game 2, had to somehow replace a defenseman who has incredibly been averaging over half a game in ice time.
Losing a player like that is felt up and down the lineup.
"The six defenseman had to play a few more minutes than we're used to," Ben Lovejoy said.
"Obviously without Tanger on the back end, the way the 'D' played tonight to give us a chance, that was huge," Sidney Crosby said. "A lot of guys thrown into different positions and they came up big for us."
The players may not have wanted to admit it, but Barry Trotz knows his team missed an opportunity on Wednesday.
"We didn’t take advantage of it," Trotz said. "...When Kris got the suspension we knew they were going to rally. They didn’t play their best game [in Game 3] and everybody had to step up on their side and I thought they did."
Now facing elimination, the Caps will somehow have to find a way to win their next three games against a Pittsburgh team that will be getting its best defenseman back for Game 5.
"We're excited to have Kris back," Lovejoy said. "He should be well rested after tonight. We're expecting him to play 44 to 48 minutes in Washington."
MORE CAPITALS: CAPS NEED TO REWRITE SAME OLD SCRIPT
The Redskins can now check a big item off of their to-do list. They have locked up another key player into the next decade.
Jordan Reed has signed a contract extension, according to the team. Per reports the deal is for five years and is worth about $50 million and has $22 million in guaranteed money. The deal is added on to the one year he had left on his rookie contract so he is under contract through 2021.
The most important immediate effect of the deal is that they may have to find some salary cap space in order to sign their draft picks. The Redskins have about $4.2 million in cap space before the Reed signing. They need about $1.8 million to sign their draft picks. They saved $8 million in cap space by releasing cornerback Chris Culliver but because they designated him a post-June 1 cut to spread out the dead cap hit the savings will not hit the cap until next month.
They could squeeze Reed’s extension into a relatively small amount of cap space if they want to. Or they could release someone like Andre Roberts, a move that could create $3 million in cap savings.
But they will be able to work that out. The important thing is that they now have one less free agent to worry about re-signing in 2017. The list still includes DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, Chris Baker, and quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The early extension for Reed could be a key factor in the negotiations for a long-term deal for Cousins. Had Reed gone into 2017 as a free agent they may have had to choose between using the franchise tag on him or on Cousins. That situation would have made for some difficult negotiations.
Reed will turn 26 in July so he is signed through his age 31 season. That will cover the prime years of the team’s third-round pick in 2013.
Reed recently fired his agent and hired Joel Segal. It seems that the change jump-started the negotiations and things came together rather quickly.
Ravens offensive tackle Alex Lewis was tough to reach when the Ravens drafted him.
Lewis was at the grocery store when the Ravens called. That became a problem. The cell phone signal was bad between Lewis and general manager Ozzie Newsome, and Newsome didn’t have much time, with another pick to make soon.
Newsome finally gave up trying to speak to Lewis, and told coach John Harbaugh to call Lewis’ house.
“So I get on the phone with his mom, and I’m going, ‘Is Alex there?’", Harbaugh told reporters when the draft ended.
“And she goes, ‘No, he’s not. May I ask who is calling?’ I’m like, ‘It’s John Harbaugh, with the Ravens.’ She goes, ‘Oh, well how I can I help you?’ I said, ‘Well, we were hoping that Alex would become a Baltimore Raven, and we’re thinking about drafting him. Is he there right now?’ (She said), ‘No, he just stepped out and he went to the store, but he’ll be back in a little while.’ I’m just going, ‘He’s at the store! What do we do now?’ She goes, ‘Now who is this team again?’
Lewis returned from his grocery run a short time later, spoke to Harbaugh, and all was well. It made for a draft experience the Ravens and Lewis won’t soon forget.