Josh Hamilton makes his return to Arlington tomorrow as the Angels begin a series with the Rangers. It’s hard enough to get fans to not boo a former player who left via free agency. But one who left and joined a rival? And one who, after joining the rival, said that the old city was…
OWINGS MILLS – Will Ronnie Stanley make his Ravens debut at left tackle or left guard?
Stanley was drafted No. 6 overall to be the Ravens’ long-term fixture at left tackle. But in the short term, the Ravens must decide if moving Stanley to left guard, and keeping Eugene Monroe for another season at left tackle, would be better or worse for the entire offensive line.
The Ravens don’t need to make a hasty decision on whether to cut or keep Monroe, who is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Remember, if they cut Monroe, the Ravens are a lot thinner at left tackle if something happens to Stanley. Once Monroe is healthy, the Ravens can see how he performs before determining his fate.
Playing Stanley at left guard could also fill the void created when left guard Kelechi Osmele signed with the Raiders during free agency. John Urschel and Rick Wagner are expected to compete for the starting left guard job, but Stanley’s talent could make him the best option.
Stanley played both left tackle and right tackle at Notre Dame, but his only action at guard came during a spring game. However, Stanley was not opposed to the idea of switching to guard during his Ravens’ debut press conference Friday at team headquarters.
“I can handle it,” Stanley said of playing guard. “Wherever the coaches put me that they see fit, that’s where I’ll play.”
Ravens offensive line coach Juan Castillo believes competing with Monroe could accelerate Stanley’s development.
“We’re going to let Ronnie go in there and compete with Eugene,” Castillo said. “We want to play the best five players. Ronnie is a very good athlete, good player, so is Eugene. So we let them compete. We’re going to play the five best guys. The Ravens are all about competition. Coach (John) Harbaugh talks about that. It just makes everybody better.
Castillo believes Stanley has the skill set to play guard, despite his lack of experience there.
"Jonathan Ogden did that (played guard) his first year,” said Castillo, referring to the Hall of Fame left tackle who had a legendary career with the Ravens. “You draft tackles because they’re the better athletes. You stick them inside at guard, a lot of times what happens for those tackles, they say, ‘Whoa, it’s a lot easier inside. There’s not as much green to be able to cover.’"
Eventually, the Ravens expect Stanley to be their starting left tackle. But Monroe may not have lost the job just yet.
For 82 games this season Capitals coach Barry Trotz exhibited patience with defenseman Dmitry Orlov, allowing him to work his way back into game shape and through mistakes after missing an entire season because of wrist surgery.
Now, that patience is being tested.
Trotz benched Orlov for the second half of Thursday night’s 4-3 overtime win over the Penguins after the 24-year-old Russian allowed forward Nick Bonino to get past him and set up Pens defenseman Ben Lovejoy for a game-tying goal.
Orlov saw just one shift after that goal and played a team-low 5:44, by far his lowest ice time of the season.
“I didn’t like his one-on-one play in a couple situations,” Trotz said. “One on (Phil) Kessel on the wall and obviously, one in the middle (on Lovejoy’s goal). He’s got to do a better job. Orly knows that as well. We’ll move forward from that.”
Whether that means in the direction of Mike Weber or Taylor Chorney remains to be seen. Orlov played in all 82 regular season games and has played in all seven playoff games. But Trotz acknowledged his fuse with Orlov grows shorter this time of year.
“I said this going into the playoffs, it’s about getting to four (wins),” Trotz said. “You don’t have time to wait for people to get on board. You don’t have time for guys to get their play up. You might give them a little bit of room, but the leash is a lot shorter in the playoffs than it is in the regular season. When you want to be the first one to four or the first one not to lose four, you don’t have as much time, so your thought process is probably a little different.”
On Lovejoy’s goal, Orlov said he made a mistake by not defending Bonino better with his stick, adding he was not trying to step up and make a hit on him. He simply didn’t defend him tight enough.
“I can’t lose 1-on-1 play and they score,” said Orlov, who has just two points and is a minus-6 in his last 18 games. “I can’t do mistake. I kind of back up and take away my stick, and that’s why he got me. After, I fell, so I can’t recover.”
Orlov said he hopes Trotz will keep him in the lineup for Game 2 on Saturday night when the series resumes in Chinatown.
“For sure, every player wants to play,” Orlov said. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen right now, but I hope, yeah, that I will play.”
If the Caps alter their third defense pairing, it will be interesting if they go with the puck-moving Chorney or defensive-minded Weber to play alongside Nate Schmidt, who logged 12:13 and was a minus-2 in Game 1.
Chorney replaced Brooks Orpik and played with Orlov in Games 4 and 5 of the first round, both losses. Weber replaced Chorney on the third pairing in the Caps’ series-clinching win in Game 6 in Philadelphia.
If the NHL has any intention of putting an expansion franchise in Kansas City, the Capitals might be able to give the league a scouting report.
The Capitals announced on Friday they will face the St. Louis Blues in Kansas City on Oct. 5 in a preseason game at the new Sprint Center.
Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie is scheduled to face his former team in the game. Oshie was selected by the Blues in the first round, 24th overall, in the 2005 NHL Draft. Oshie appeared in 443 games with the Blues from 2008-15, registering 310 points (110g, 200a) and 239 penalty minutes. The Everett, Wash., native was acquired by the Capitals on July 2, 2015.
Kansas City was last awarded an NHL team the same year the Capitals entered the league in 1974. But the Kansas City Scouts lasted just two seasons in Kemper Arena before moving to Denver as the Colorado Rockies.
Tickets for the Oct. 5 game will go on sale on Tuesday, May 3 at noon at SprintCenter.com, the Price Chopper Box Office at Sprint Center or by phone at 888-929-7849. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more by calling Sprint Center Group Sales at 816-929-7177 or by emailing email@example.com.
The Capitals will host the Blues at Verizon Center on Oct. 3. The full NHL schedule is expected to come out in late June.