From Comcast SportsNetLONDON (AP) -- The Miracle of Medinah.One of sport's greatest comebacks was celebrated across the continent with those words Monday after Europe's historic and emotional victory over the United States in the Ryder Cup.Nowhere was the win more special than in Spain, the home of European captain Jose Maria Olazabal and the inspirational late Ryder Cup stalwart Seve Ballesteros."This one is for you, Seve," ran the front-page headline of Spanish sports daily Marca, echoing the thoughts of Olazabal and all of Europe's players who overcame a 10-4 deficit late Saturday afternoon to win 14 12-13 12 in Medinah, Ill.Ballesteros, who died from a brain tumor in May 2011, was everywhere Sunday. His image adorned European bags and shirts, his name was sung by Europe's fans well into the night and his spirit was invoked by players wearing the navy trousers and white polo shirt that were the Spaniard's trademark.His name was on everyone's lips Monday, too."What happened yesterday went beyond sports -- what that group of individuals achieved was incredibly difficult," Ivan Ballesteros, Seve's nephew and vice president of the Seve Ballesteros foundation, told The Associated Press by telephone. "We want to thank Jose Maria for remembering Seve not just throughout the week but for always keeping his memory alive."Ballesteros' family kept it simple on their official website with the message: "Thanks Europe, Thanks Jose Maria."The British media, already spoiled by an unprecedented summer of sporting success this year that included the London Olympics, added another memorable triumph to the list."After London 2012, Bradley Wiggins, Andy Murray and the rest, we were due an anti-climax. But this sporting year is incapable of dullness, one-sidedness, hollow drama," the Daily Telegraph said.Britain had heroes everywhere -- from Luke Donald beating Bubba Watson in the opening singles to the tight victories secured by Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood.Justin Rose beat Phil Mickelson with a birdie at the 17th that was perhaps the key turning point Sunday. And then there was Ian Poulter, who started Europe's charge by making five straight birdies in the final match of Saturday's fourballs to take a crucial point and leave the score at 10-6 going into the final day."I'm officially taking two years off and I'll see you at the next one," said Poulter, who won a match-high four points and was labeled the "modern-day Seve" by McIlroy.It was a German, Martin Kaymer, who rolled in a putt on the 18th hole to beat Steve Stricker on Sunday and ensure that Europe retained the cup."I never had such a feeling before," Kaymer said. "I'll never forget it and I'll be telling my grandchildren about it."Pictures of the German celebrating his putt -- pumping both fists -- were splashed across newspaper front pages."Wunderbar," blared the headline in Britain's Daily Express.With a nod to Europe's economic troubles, the Irish Times said: "Martin Kaymer, a cool German, gave Europe a massive bailout that contributed to the most unlikeliest comeback in Ryder Cup history."Twitter was awash with Ryder reaction from sports personalities past and present who stayed up late to cheer on Europe from afar."The victory was epic!" Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, a keen golfer, tweeted.Paul Casey, an English golfer who played in three Ryder Cups from 2004-08, added: "Woke up this morning and it wasn't a dream. The most amazing Ryder Cup ever! Well done lads, especially JMO."Four-time Olympic rowing gold medalist Matthew Pinsent of Britain offered his own take."Ironic that in the cold light of morning the US played better in the team formats than we did and EUR were great individually,'" Pinsent tweeted.Belgium -- hardly a golfing stronghold -- reveled in having one of its own in the winning lineup. Nicolas Colsaerts was a virtual unknown in Belgium a few months ago, but Europe's biggest hitter graced the front pages of two of the country's main newspapers Monday after making a memorable debut that included beating Tiger Woods in Friday's fourballs."After beating Tiger Woods on Friday, Colsaerts could celebrate again last night," boasted Belgium's Het Laatste Nieuws.The 2012 match, though, will forever be remembered as the one where Europe did Seve proud.Olazabal failed to fight back the tears Sunday as he dedicated victory to his close friend and playing partner at the closing ceremony. On Monday morning, "Ollie" surfaced with bags under his eyes, clutching the cup."If someone had to write a script for it, that would be the ideal one," Olazabal said. "For that to happen, Seve had to have something to do with it."
The schedule makers did the Capitals no favors in their return from the bye week. They returned with a road game at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Detroit, then had to play the New York Rangers on Sunday at 12:30 p.m., less than 24 hours after the game against the Red Wings started.
That would have been tough at any point in the season. Having that back-to-back coming out of the bye week was a raw deal.
The record across the NHL for teams returning from the bye is 3-12-4. Many may argue this is too small a sample size to draw any conclusions from and that's probably true. Claiming every time a team loses out of the bye that it's because they have been off for a week is an easy excuse. Every team has to play the schedule it's given. Nashville had a similar challenge to Washington, playing a back-to-back out of the weekend against Minnesota and Columbus with both games on the road. The Predators, however, managed a win in the second game.
But still, the NHL needs to be smarter with how it schedules after the bye. No team should have to play a back-to-back in their first two games back, period. If that record continues to get worse, then the leauge will have to adjust to ensure teams coming out of the bye play each other. Otherwise they are giving a competitive advantage to the opponent and to any team that ends up with multiple games against teams in their first game back.
You can't blame the schedule for Washington walking away from this weekend with only one point. That's on them. But, you also can't argue that the schedule put them at a disadvantage for Sunday's game when they played a Rangers team that had been off since Thursday in New York less than 24 hours after the puck dropped in Detroit.
NEW YORK—Philipp Grubauer didn’t get the ‘W’ Sunday at Madison Square Garden, but his scintillating 28-save performance against the Rangers still managed to bolster the backup’s standing as the NHL’s best No. 2 netminder.
Grubauer, in fact, now leads the league in quality start percentage (.786), having posted 11 quality starts in 14 opportunities. The guy right behind him? Wild starter and Vezina Trophy favorite Devan Dubnyk, who boasts a .756 quality start percentage in 45 opportunities.
“Grubi has got a lot of the tougher starts, the back-to-backs, and he’s accepted that and he’s come out and played well,” Coach Barry Trotz said.
Indeed, Grubauer was called upon early and often in Sunday’s game as he stopped 18 of the Rangers’ 19 first period shots. It was the second game of a back-to-back set for the Caps, and it included a quick turnaround and no morning skate.
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Trotz acknowledged that the Caps’ post-bye week schedule factored into the goalie rotation over the weekend. The team practiced on Friday, then hit the road for back-to-back matinees in Detroit and New York. That meant no morning skate in either city. And because Holtby, who is also having a strong season, prefers to face shots during the morning skate prior to a start, the staff decided to tap him against the Red Wings since the starter against the Rangers would go two days without the benefit of a morning skate.
Which, of course, is the sort of thing that happens to backups.
“We thought [Grubauer’s] mindset would be much better to handle that than Braden, who is used to being in there all the time,” Trotz explained. “[Grubauer] was very accepting of that. He’s played fantastic for us this year.”
Grubauer said the Caps’ slow start against the Rangers actually helped him get back into the groove following six days off and the team’s challenging weekend schedule.
“It was good to get into the game, but that’s not the way we want to start,” he said. “You’ve got to find your rhythm again and it helped to get a couple of [quality] shots early.”
Trotz said the game could have been “5-0 in the first period, not 1-0” without Grubauer. And his players agreed.
“Grubi was outstanding, in the first especially,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said.
Nicklas Backstrom added: “Grubi kept us in there in the first period. He kept us in the game there. We were lucky we were only down a goal. It could have been more, but he made some huge saves.”
Performances such as that one have helped Grubauer rack up some outstanding numbers. Overall, the 25-year-old German is third in both save percentage (.932) and goals against average (1.98) among goalies with at least 15 appearances. In addition, he’s got three shutouts, including two in his last six starts.
It also seems likely that Grubauer will hear his number called frequently down the stretch with five sets of back-to-backs remaining. With 14 starts already this season, he just two behind the career-high he established last year.
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