Gary Williams and Chick Hernandez on the conditions at Congressional


Gary Williams and Chick Hernandez on the conditions at Congressional

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NHL Power Rankings: Just a slump or is it time to panic?

NHL Power Rankings: Just a slump or is it time to panic?

At the end of November in 2015, the Caps were enjoying a five-game winning streak and everything looked like it was going their way. That hasn't been the case this season as Washington is now sputtering with a three-game losing streak.

Is it time to panic? Are the Caps not as good as we thought they were?

It's too soon to tell. Every team in the NHL goes through slumps in a long 82-game season. Let's not forget, everyone was ready to panic in October after seeing Washington lose two consecutive games in regulation, but the team responded with five straight wins.


This slump, however, is more troubling given that it came against the Maple Leafs, Islanders and Lightning, all teams who have struggled of late. The Caps have also managed just three goals in those three games.

Given the roster this team has, it's not time to do anything rash. Offense has been the biggest problem and this team is loaded with offensive talent. They will get time to play this out.

But Barry Trotz and Brian MacLellan also can't allow this to continue much longer. Jakub Vrana and Paul Carey are already getting playing time after getting called up from Hershey. If Washington doesn't turn things around soon, more changes will be coming.

Where do the Caps stand now with their latest slump? Find out here in his week's NHL Power Rankings.

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Ravens already pumped for Monday night matchup against Patriots

Ravens already pumped for Monday night matchup against Patriots

The Ravens have already turned their attention to beating the Patriots.

It didn’t take long for the Ravens (7-5) to put their most impressive win of the season behind them. Minutes after whipping the Dolphins, 38-6, the Ravens were already talking about their next game, a Monday night matchup against the Patriots (10-2) in Foxborough, Mass. on Dec. 12.

Asked if the Patriots game would be a measuring stick for the Ravens, cornerback Jimmy Smith didn’t shy away.

“Definitely,” Smith said. “I would say even more than the Dallas game, especially because they (the Patriots) are in the AFC. That’s who you’ve got to go through to get where we want to go.”

RELATED: Flacco-Mornhinweg meeting helps Ravens unleash offense

There is no love between the Ravens and Patriots, but they love competing against each other. It’s a rivalry with a great history, but the Ravens and Patriots haven’t faced each other since the 2014 divisional playoffs. In that memorable game, the Ravens suffered a heartbreaking 35-31 loss, after twice leading the Patriots by 14 points.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is having another terrific season, and even without star tight end Rob Gronkowski (season-ending back injury), the Patriots have other formidable weapons like running back LeGarrette Blount (957 yards rushing), wide receiver Julian Edelman (72 catches) and tight end Martellus Bennett (four touchdown catches).

This upcoming matchup will have huge playoff implications, especially for the Ravens, who are in a far more precarious position than the Patriots. The Ravens still control their playoff destiny, but if they don’t win the AFC North, the door to the post-season could be slammed in their face.

“We don’t have any choice but to keep winning,” Smith said. “At 7-5, we have to play our best football now.”

Against the Dolphins, the Ravens played their best game of the season. But already, they are looking forward to seeing the Patriots.

“Now we have to go up into a hostile place that we really enjoy playing,” said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. “It’s going to be another important game up there on a Monday night, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it, big time.”

MORE: Dennis Pitta relieved after his two-touchdown performance against the Dolphins