Reynolds chosen as 2012 WTT MVP; Jensen Earns Coach of the Year

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Reynolds chosen as 2012 WTT MVP; Jensen Earns Coach of the Year

CSNWashington.com

Today, the World TeamTennis Pro League presented by GEICO named Bobby Reynolds of the Washington Kastles the 2012 WTT Male MVP.

After earning the 2010 Rookie of the Year award, Reynolds has followed up with an even better campaign in 2012 to earn the WTT Male MVP honors. Boasting a 64-41 record for a .610 winning percentage, Reynolds finished as the top ranked player in men's singles. He also paired up with the 2011 Male MVP Leander Paes to finish as the League's top-ranked doubles team with a .620 winning percentage. Yet after Paes left to compete in the Olympics, Reynolds kept the Kastles on track and helped lead them to a second consecutive undefeated regular season. "It's an honor to be named MVP," said Bobby Reynolds. "There have been so many great players who have been MVP over the years of World TeamTennis. The team has been behind me the whole year. I just hope we keep the streak alive."

Additionally, Murphy Jensen of the Washington Kastles was named WTT Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. The Kastles have had two consecutive undefeated regular seasons and won 30 matches in a row, the second longest win streak in pro team sports history. This is Jensen's fourth season coaching the Kastles. He led the franchise to the WTT title in 2009 and 2011, and the Kastles are now the top seed in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals as they look to win another championship.
"It feels unreal to be named Coach of the Year for two years in a row," said Jensen. "It means the world to me because I got an opportunity this month to serve some extraordinary athletes. I'm a cheap imitation of all the people who have mentored me along the way, starting with my mom and dad."

All of the 2012 WTT Award winners as well as the WTT Finals Weekend Schedule follow below:

2012 WTT AWARDS:
WTT FEMALE MVP: Martina Hingis (New York Sportimes)
WTT MALE MVP: Bobby Reynolds (Washington Kastles)
WTT FEMALE ROOKIE: Kristyna Pliskova (Philadelphia Freedoms)
WTT MALE ROOKIE: John-Patrick Smith (Orange County Breakers)
WTT COACH OF THE YEAR: Murphy Jensen (Washington Kastles)

2012 WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO Schedule:
September 14-16 - Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, S.C.
Friday, Sept. 14 - 6:30 p.m. EDT : Western Conference Championship - 1 Orange County Breakers (8-6) vs. 2 Sacramento Capitals (7-7)
Saturday, Sept. 15 - 6:30 p.m. EDT: Eastern Conference Championship - 1 Washington Kastles (14-0) vs. 2 New York Sportimes (9-5)
Sunday, Sept. 16 - 3:30 p.m. EDT: WTT Finals - Eastern Conference Champion vs. Western Conference Champion

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NHL Power Rankings: Bye week blues

NHL Power Rankings: Bye week blues

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.

SEE THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

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.

With two losses in their return, the Caps relinquished the top spot in this week's NHL Power Rankings. Find out how far they fell and who took their place here.

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Philipp Grubauer again states case as NHL's best backup

Philipp Grubauer again states case as NHL's best backup

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.

RELATED: Power Rankings: Bye week blues

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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