Holtby hopes to keep streak alive

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Holtby hopes to keep streak alive

NEW YORK -- Braden Holtbys NHL resume is not the most extensive, but it is worth noting he has gone 24 straight NHL starts without losing consecutive games.

I didnt even know how many it is, Holtby said after Mondays morning skate at Madison Square Garden.

Maybe the key is to keep a level head through the highs and lows. Never having two bad games in a row is the key to consistency and I want to have a solid performance.

Holtby allowed three goals on 18 shots in Saturdays series-opening 3-1 loss to the Rangers. One goal came on a wraparound stuffer by Artem Anisimov, another on a gloveside slapper by Chris Kreider and a third on an uncontested 5-hole shot by Brad Richards.

Holtbys loss dropped his post-season record to 4-4 and raised his GAA to 2.13 and his save percentage to .931. His counterpart, Hart Trophy finalist Henrik Lundqvist, is now 5-3 in the playoffs with a 1.61 GAA and .945 save percentage.

Ive said this before, Holtby said. Its the Caps against the Rangers. My job is to control their offensive pushes and out job is to push against Lundqvist.

Schultz ready: Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz said hes ready to jump back into the lineup after getting scratched in favor of John Erskine in Game 1.

With New York having the benefit of the last line change, look for Rangers coach John Tortorella to match his top line of Richards between Carl Hagelin and right wing Marian Gaborik.

A guy like Gaborik is real fast and he kind of likes to sneak behind you and hang out a little higher in the offensive zone than most wingers, Schultz said. Theyre really good at give-and-goes. We need to be in good passing lines and stay in that guy going to the net.

Ratings sweep: NBCs coverage of its first two Conference Semifinal games averaged a 1.7 overnight rating, the best for weekend coverage of the second round in eight years and up six percent over last years coverage. Capitals-Rangers on Saturday and Devils-Flyers on Sunday produced the best overnight average for weekend coverage of the second round since two-game regional coverage on ABC 1.9 on May 1, 2004.
Saturdays Game 1 between the Caps and Rangers received a 1.5 overnight rating. The game received a 3.5 rating in New York and a 5.2 rating in Washington, down slightly from a 5.3 in 2009 for a second-round game against the Penguins.

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Ravens under the Microscope: Best case, worst case for DE Elvis Dumervil

Ravens under the Microscope: Best case, worst case for DE Elvis Dumervil

As we countdown to training camp, Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka will take turns putting 25 key Ravens under the microscope this month.

They’ll speculate on a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day. They’ll begin with players looking to carve out a role, or a roster spot. They’ll end with the Ravens’ most important players, concluding with quarterback Joe Flacco on July 25. 

RELATED: DUMERVIL DESPERATE TO GET A RING

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Elvis Dumervil, 32-year-old linebacker

Best-case scenario:

Dumervil is among the NFL’s sack leaders and spearheads a rebirth of the Ravens’ pass rush.

Why it could happen: 

Dumervil equaled his career high with 17 sacks as recently as 2014. He keeps himself in great shape, and says he feels great after offseason foot surgery. If Terrell Suggs returns healthy, Dumervil won’t have to face as many double-teams, or play as many snaps. Dumervil looks at last season’s results as unacceptable – just six sacks for him, and just five wins for the Ravens. He’s motivated to double both totals – at least.

Worst-case scenario:

Dumervil is no longer an elite pass rusher

Why it could happen:

Dumervil entered the league in 2006, and at some point the wear and tear will start to show. If young pass rushers like Za’Darius Smith, Kamalei Correa, and Branson Kaufusi  are effective, Dumervil could see his role diminish as the season wears on.

RELATED: BEST & WORST CASE SCENARIO FOR JIMMY SMITH

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Baker acknowledges Nats need to come through in clutch situations

Baker acknowledges Nats need to come through in clutch situations

Coming through in two-out situations isn’t supposed to be an easy task, but the Nationals are making it look especially difficult of late.

The most recent example of those struggles came in Friday night’s 5-3 loss to the Padres, in which the Nats’ lineup couldn’t get the big knock against 23-year-old right hander Luis Perdomo, a rookie starter who came into the game sporting a 7.36 ERA.

“That’s been our nemesis,” manager Dusty Baker said. “People ask me, you know, what do we need? We need some timely, two-out base hits. Not home runs.”

Indeed, when the Nats have big nights offensively, it’s usually because they powered their way to get there. They entered Friday tied for first in the National League with 132 homers through 96 games. And even against the Padres, two of Washington's three runs on the night came via solo shots from Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy.

So the issue hasn’t been overall scoring, per se. The issue has been scoring in clutch situations without having to rely on the long ball. Against the Perdomo and the Padres, the Nats went 1-for-5 with two outs and runners in scoring position, including an 0-for-4 stretch after the first inning. That won’t help their season average in that category (.221), which ranked 21st in the majors prior to the game.

So it’s no mystery to Baker about what has to be fixed.

“At this stage of the game, almost two-thirds of the season gone, we gotta make some changes,” the skipper said of the Nats’ two-out approach. “We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting, and it’s getting frustrating on the guys and frustrating on fans and frustrating to us, too.”

When asked about the Nats' recent woes, Bryce Harper chalked it up to the typical up-and-down nature of the long season. 

"I don't think we need to change much at all,” said Harper, who’s 6-for-20 in those situations on the year. "I think we're a great team. I think we're swinging the bats well.

“Sometimes you line out and get out. Sometimes you hit right into shifts. Sometimes you strikeout, sometimes you walk. It's part of the game.”

Perhaps it is just part of the game. But it is also hard to ignore that the Nats have gone 6-for-41 with runners in scoring position over their last five games, four of them losses. 

But Baker, ever the optimist, believes it won't take long before his team turns it around. 

“I just urge everybody, don’t panic," he said. "Just let us play and we’ll come out of this.”

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Report details pieces Orioles could package together in trade for Upton, Jr.

Report details pieces Orioles could package together in trade for Upton, Jr.

The Baltimore Orioles are reportedly discussing a trade that would send Ubaldo Jimenez to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Melvin Upton, Jr., according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. 

The deal, Rosenthal reports, would likely also have to involve a prospect departing Baltimore for San Diego and is "not yet close" to happening.

Jimenez has struggled for Baltimore this season, going 5-9 with a 7.38 ERA. Upton, Jr. is batting .259 with 16 home runs and 45 RBIs. 

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