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  1. ST. PAUL Chicago Blackhawks Hats Authentic , Minn. (AP) — Nazem Kadri broke a tie with 3:20 to play and Zach Hyman scored twice in the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.Hyman added an empty-net goal in the final minute to seal Toronto’s fourth straight victory and Minnesota’s third loss in a row.The Maple Leafs improved to 19-8-0, a point behind Tampa Bay for the NHL lead.Kadri’s goal bounced off Wild defenseman Nick Seeler, who was on the wrong end of two such plays Saturday. Seeler also had a puck deflect off him and into his own goal when Tyler Ennis scored Toronto’s second goal of the night.Auston Matthews also scored, and Frederick Anderson made 38 saves for the Maple Leafs for his 15th victory of the season. Matthews scored Toronto’s first goal, his third in two games since returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him 14 games.The win came after news broke that Toronto signed restricted free-agent William Nylander to a six-year extension, ending an impasse with his contract. Saturday was the deadline for a deal to be done.Jason Zucker, Eric Staal and Jordan Greenway scored for Minnesota.LIGHTNING 5, PANTHERS 4, OTSUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Brayden Point scored a power-play goal 3:12 into overtime and Tampa Bay overcame a 4-1 deficit to beat Florida.Point took a pass from Nikita Kucherov across the front of the crease to the left side and flipped it past James Reimer. Tampa Bay improved to 19-7-1, a point ahead of Toronto for the overall NHL lead.Kucherov had a goal and two assists, Cedric Paquette, Mathieu Joseph and Alex Killorn also scored, and Louis Domingue made 24 saves. Evgenii Dadonov and Jonathan Huberdeau each had a goal and an assist, and Frank Vatrano and Aleksander Barkov also scored for the Panthers.SENATORS 6, SHARKS 2OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Ben Harpur scored his first NHL goal Custom Chicago Blackhawks Jerseys , Craig Anderson stopped 36 shots and the Senators beat San Jose to spoil Erik Karlsson’s return to Ottawa.The former Senators captain was playing his first game in Ottawa since he was traded to San Jose in the offseason. The team honored the two-time Norris Trophy winner with a video tribute.Ryan Dzingel, Mark Stone, Mikkel Boedker, Magnus Paajarvi and Bobby Ryan also scored tp help the Senators win their third straight. Boedker added three assists for a four-point outing.Joe Thornton and Barclay Goodrow scored for the Sharks. They have lost four in a row.ISLANDERS 3, BLUE JACKETS 2UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Casey Cizikas scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period and New York won in its return to the Nassau Coliseum, rallying to beat Columbus.Anders Lee and Anthony Beauvillier scored in the second period to tie it, and Thomas Greiss stopped 28 shots. Markus Hannikainen and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored for Columbus.It was the Islanders‘ first regular season game in 3 1/2 years at the Coliseum, the team’s home from its inception in 1972 until 2015. This was the first of 21 games at the arena as part of a unique arrangement with Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the Islanders’ home since the 2015-16 season.COYOTES 6, BLUES 1GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Clayton Keller had a goal and two assists and Arizona scored four second-period goals to rout St. Louis.Richard Panik, Jakob Chychrun, Christian Fischer, Nick Cousins and Alex Goligoski also scored for the Coyotes. Panik added an assist and Nick Schmaltz and Derek Stepan had two each to help Arizona win its third straight. Adin Hill, pressed into service in goal with the Coyotes’ top two goaltenders, Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper , out with injuries, finished with 25 saves in his second consecutive start.Robert Thomas scored for the Blues.FLYERS 4, PENGUINS 2PITTSBURGH (AP) — Dale Weise scored in the first minute of the third period and Philadelphia held on to beat Pittsburgh.Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek also scored, and Anthony Stolarz stopped 30 shots.Sidney Crosby scored his 14th for Pittsburgh, and Riley Sheahan added a goal. The Penguins have lost two straight and seven of 10.RED WINGS 4, BRUINS 2BOSTON (AP) — Frans Nielsen scored his first goal of the season to break a tie with 8:07 left, and Jimmy Howard made 37 saves in Detroit’s victory over Boston.Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin had second-period goals, and Gustav Nyquist added an empty-netter. The Red Wings improved 11-4-1 in their last 16 games after opening the season 1-7-2.David Backes and Ryan Donato scored for Boston.STARS 2, CANUCKS 1VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Alex Radulov scored with 3:23 left to lift Dallas past Vancouver.Jamie Benn had a third-period goal, and Ben Bishop made 24 saves in his return from a lower-body injury. Dallas is 3-1-1 in its last five games.Bo Horvat scored for Vancouver. The Canucks have only one win in their past 12.JETS 4, DEVILS 3, OTNEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Mark Scheifele scored his second goal of the game at 4:43 of overtime, tucking the puck past Keith Kinkaid to lift Winnipeg past New Jersey.Josh Morrissey and Andrew Copp also scored, and Laurent Brossoit made 36 saves. Marcus Johansson Colorado Avalanche T-Shirts Authentic , Jesper Bratt and Taylor Hall scored for New Jersey. The Devils have lost five straight.PREDATORS 5, BLACKHAWKS 2NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Eeli Tolvanen scored his first NHL goal and added an assist to lead Nashville past Chicago.Craig Smith, Kevin Fiala and Ryan Johansen also each had a goal and an assist, Austin Watson added an empty-netter, and Pekka Rinne stopped 19 shots.Brandon Saad and Artem Anisimov scored for Chicago.CANADIENS 5, RANGERS 2MONTREAL (AP) — Shea Weber and Artturi Lehkonen each scored twice and Montreal beat New York to snap a five-game losing streak.Tomas Tatar also scored, and Carey Price stopped 20 shots. Jimmy Vesey and Ryan Strome scored for the Rangers.OILERS 2, GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Ryan Spooner scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, lifting Edmonton past Vegas.Connor McDavid also scored as the Oilers won their third straight and improved to 4-1-1 under new coach Ken Hitchcock. Mikko Koskinen stopped 31 shots.William Karlsson scored for the Golden Knights, who snapped a season-high five-game winning streak. Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 32 saves. CALGARY, Alberta — The Pittsburgh Penguins will be hard pressed to follow their thrilling 6-5 overtime road win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.That’s exactly what they’ll attempt to do when they take on the Flames in Calgary on Thursday.Sidney Crosby scored a highlight-reel goal, his second of the game, at 2:12 of the extra session to lead the Penguins (4-1-2) to their second straight road victory.Article continues below ...“It doesn’t matter how pretty they are, but it’s nice to get ones like that,” Crosby told reporters after his team practiced in Calgary on Wednesday. “It’s probably been a while since I’ve had a nice one like that. I’ll take it.”Jake Guentzel wasn’t surprised to see his talented linemate deke out a pair of Oilers before lifting a backhand shot under the glove of Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot.“It’s just tough to stop that kind of play and that kind of player. When he’s determined like that Colorado Avalanche Hoodies Authentic , it’s pretty tough to stop him,” said Guentzel, while adding that the Penguins weren’t satisfied with surrendering five goals to the Oilers. “We know we’ve got to tighten up areas and be a little bit better defensively.”Crosby agreed with his teammate’s assessment.“I think we’d like to tighten things up a little bit better defensively, so we’ll look to improve that here (in Calgary),” said Crosby, whose team has gone 3-0-2 since dropping a 5-1 decision at home to the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 6. “We want to really build some momentum here. I think you’re just ready to compete, especially on a road trip like this. It’s big games every night. I think you just try to get up for them and expect anything.”Meanwhile, the Flames (5-4-0) will be looking to rebound from a 3-2 loss they suffered to the Canadiens on Tuesday in Montreal.“You can’t keep chasing games,” said Calgary captain Mark Giordano following the disappointing loss to the Habs. “It’s not a good thing to do in this league and eventually it’s going to come back to bite you and we chased this one all night. We’ve got to learn to simplify when things are going well and put pucks in and try and grind away.“We have to start playing the way we can early in games and we have to get some leads here and some momentum, because it’s not good enough.”Forward Matthew Tkachuk, who had two assists in a losing cause, also expressed his disappointment following Tuesday’s setback.“It was a bad effort after we got away with one in New York thanks to our goalie,” said Tkachuk in regards to the play of netminder David Rittich, who made 44 saves to backstop the Flames to a 4-1 road win over the New York Rangers on Sunday before keeping his team in the game in Montreal by stopping 37 more shots fired his way. “We talked about how our efforts haven’t been great recently and how our goalie’s been bailing us out.”Tkachuk went on to say that the Flames will need to bounce back with much better efforts at home against the Penguins on Thursday night and the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals on Saturday afternoon.“If we expect to play like that, we’ll probably be blown out of the building by these teams coming in,” warned Tkachuk. “So we have to sharpen it up.”
  2. SAN JOSE Authentic Greg Joseph Jersey , Calif. (AP) Shortly after the San Jose Sharks were denied by the iron for the fourth time of the night, Marc-Andre Fleury rubbed the goal post to thank it for his good fortune.There’s something magical about the ride the expansion Vegas Golden Knights have been on all season and now it’s going all the way to the Western Conference Final.Fleury made 28 saves in his fourth shutout of the playoffs and the Golden Knights have made it to the NHL’s final four in their inaugural season after beating the San Jose Sharks 3-0 in Game 6 of their second-round series Sunday.”It was maybe a little bit of a shock, but I’m proud of our team, our organization, the way they did things here,” Fleury said. ”I’m proud to be where we are right now.”Fleury, who was part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams in Pittsburgh, is a main reason for the success. He allowed just three goals in a first-round sweep against Los Angeles, posted shutouts in Games 1 and 6 against the Sharks and was also spectacular in an overtime win in Game 3.He had plenty of help from a crew of castoffs who have come together in Vegas to form a team that has a legitimate shot at a championship. Vegas next will play either Winnipeg or Nashville in the Western Conference Final. The Jets lead that series 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Monday night.”We deserve to be here,” coach Gerard Gallant said. ”We’re a good team, we play hard and we played well all season long. The two teams we played were very good hockey teams and we were very evenly matched with those teams.”Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring Myles Garrett Jersey Elite , Nate Schmidt added an insurance goal that was only detectable by replay and Cody Eakin sealed it with an empty-netter to help Vegas become just the third team in NHL history to win multiple series in its first season.The Toronto Arenas won the Stanley Cup in the first postseason in league history in 1918 and St. Louis won two rounds to win the all-expansion West Division in 1968.The Sharks had numerous opportunities all night but were thwarted by a couple of shots that hit the iron, some acrobatic saves from Fleury and other chances that trickled just wide. This marked the fourth straight postseason for the Sharks that ended with a loss on home ice.”It’s very disappointing, you get this far and lose, it’s disappointing,” Sharks forward Logan Couture said. ””It’s extra disappointing when you don’t play the way that you know that you’re capable of. … That’s something that’s very difficult to take.”The Golden Knights took control of this game with some good fortune in the second period. It started when usually reliable Marc-Edouard Vlasic turned the puck over in his own zone. Reilly Smith took control near the blue line and found Marchessault alone in front for a goal that trickled between Martin Jones‘ pads.The Golden Knights then added to the lead after an icing by Brent Burns led to an offensive zone faceoff. David Perron beat Tierney on the draw and Schmidt took a shot that appeared to deflect off the post and out.Play went on for 25 more seconds before the buzzer rang, with the situation room in Toronto calling for a video review. That quickly showed that the puck bounced off the post, off a piece equipment inside the net and out.Vegas then had a delayed celebration for the goal that made it 2-0.”I had no idea,” Schmidt said. ”I’d never seen something like that happen where they blew the play dead, but when I was skating back to the bench and all the guys were yelling, `It’s in.”’That was the type of bounce the Sharks didn’t get early in the game when they hit the post or crossbar three times in the opening period and then again in the third when they tried to cut into Vegas’ lead.They also had several other chances that either Fleury turned aside with acrobatic saves, trickled just wide or they were unable to get a clean shot Authentic Myles Garrett Jersey , like a rebound Couture whiffed on from the slot in the first period with an open net.”It’s a fine line,” coach Peter DeBoer said. ”I think we had a couple of those that didn’t go in. That’s hockey. But Vegas deserves to be moving on. They played great. They finished the chances when they needed to and got saves when they needed to.”NOTES: Jones made 30 saves. … Vegas F William Carrier was scratched with a lower-body injury and replaced by Ryan Reaves, who played his first game this postseason.— SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) For three games, the San Jose Sharks have had more speed, discipline and depth than the Anaheim Ducks.If they can repeat that formula for one more game, the Sharks will move onto the second round of the playoffs.Joonas Donskoi scored one goal and set up another to start a four-goal barrage in the second period and the Sharks raced past Anaheim for the third straight game, beating the Ducks 8-1 on Monday night for a 3-0 series lead.”We understand there’s a lot of work to do,” captain Joe Pavelski said. ”Eliminating teams is always tough. That’s kind of where our mindset shifts, I think. We’ll see a few things that we can do better, and a few things we’re doing well. That commitment from us is going to go a long way to stay with what we’re doing.”Right now just about everything is working for the Sharks Jarvis Landry Jersey Elite , who had eight goal-scorers in the highest-scoring playoff game in franchise history and got a 45-savve performance from Martin Jones.San Jose used its superior speed to create odd-man rushes that paid off when Donskoi scored and then set up Marcus Sorensen in the opening four minutes of the second period and then turned the game into a laugher with four power-play goals after the Ducks spent most of their energy slashing and cross-checking.”They can take as many of those as they want to, we’ll take the power plays,” coach Peter DeBoer said. ”They take penalties, that’s a fact. During the season they do and we anticipated that it would be like that in the playoffs and it has been. It’s on us to make them pay for making those plays and decisions, and we have.Eric Fehr and Tomas Hertl added goals later in the second to turn this all-California series into a rout. Logan Couture had a goal and two assists, Pavelski, Evander Kane and Timo Meier scored power-play goals in the third period, for the Sharks, who have outscored the Ducks 14-3 through the first three games of the first-round series.San Jose will look to complete the sweep in Game 4 at home Wednesday night. Only four NHL teams have lost a best-of-seven series after winning the first three games with the Sharks the last to do it in 2014 in the first round against Los Angeles.Rickard Rakell scored a power-play goal but the Ducks once again looked a step slow against the speedier Sharks. Anaheim has scored three goals all series, including just one at even strength.John Gibson allowed five goals on 24 shots before being pulled after two periods. Ryan Miller allowed three power-play goals in the third.”From my perspective it’s hard to forget what we just did. Very undisciplined, very disappointed in our reaction in the hockey game ,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. ”Those are the things we have to address. We’re not going to get yourself any kind of opportunity to take the number of penalties we took, and I call them selfish penalties.”The game turned early in the second after Brandon Montour fell near center ice, giving the Sharks a two on one. Donskoi converted on a give-and-go with Evander Kane and San Jose was off to the races.Donskoi then set up the next goal on another odd-man rush when he fed Sorensen, who faked a forehand and then beat Gibson with a backhand on a similar move that led to goals for Kane and Couture in the first two games.Jones then made a big stop on Rakell from the slot to preserve the two-goal lead and Fehr helped put the game away when he skated through two defenders and beat Gibson up high to make it 4-1.Then the Ducks started their parade to the penalty box and the Sharks capitalized.Fresh off the two wins in Anaheim, the Sharks were greeted by a frenzied crowd that sparked them to a fast start. Mikkel Boedker got things started when he used his speed to get around Hampus Lindholm and feed an open Couture in the slot for the tap-in into the open net.Anaheim answered when Rakell got his first point of the series when he scored on a one-timer on the power play.NOTES: D Andy Welinski was back in the lineup for the Ducks after being scratched in Game 2 for Kevin Bieksa. … F Jason Chimera got his first action of the series for Anaheim in place of Antoine Vermette. … Sharks C Joe Thornton, who has been out since Jan. 23 with a knee injury, took part in pregame warmups once again but isn’t ready to play.—
  3. NASHVILLE Cody Eakin Jersey , Tenn. (AP) — Pekka Rinne has a suggestion for how Nashville could handle his future contracts after the veteran goaltender celebrated his second extension with yet another shutout.On his birthday no less.“I should just sign one-year deals,” he said with a smile.Rinne celebrated his 36th birthday and the two-year extension Saturday night by shutting out the Boston Bruins in the Predators’ 1-0 victory.He stopped 26 shots for his second shutout this season and No. 53 of his standout career. The Predators announced before the game they had signed the Vezina Trophy winner to an extension worth $10 million that runs through the 2020-21 season, and Rinne went out and earned his 316th victory.It’s the second time Rinne has notched a shutout on his birthday after signing a contract extension. He made 35 saves in a 3-0 win at Arizona on Nov. 3, 2011, after signing a seven-year, $49 million deal.Being at home, fans sang “Happy Birthday” to him in the third period.“It’s been awesome, awesome day. Huge win,” Rinne said. “Just very happy. So proud that I can stay with this organization that gave me a chance a long time ago, and you know still have that opportunity to chase my dream. So very fortunate.”Roman Josi scored for Nashville, which won its third straight to stay atop the league standings. Nashville’s captain called Rinne’s deal amazing.“He’s such a big part of this locker room Youth Colin Miller Jersey , and he’s our leader,” Josi said. “I mean he’s been here for so long he’s such a great guy and obviously best goaltender in the league. To keep a guy like him around, it’s awesome for us.”Rinne improved to 3-1-1 on his birthday in his career.“He has been and continues to be the backbone of this organization and this team, probably the guy who’s had the biggest impact on this organization,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He’s really happy. We’re really happy. It’s a good day for us.”Boston lost for the second time in three games after managing only six shots in the third period. Rinne stopped Brad Marchand’s wrister with 44 seconds left. Boston coach Bruce Cassidy took his timeout with 12 seconds left, but the Bruins didn’t get another shot off until the final horn sounded.Jaroslav Halak made 39 saves in his fifth start in seven games for Boston. The Bruins went 0 for 4 with the man advantage.“Clearly, you can see if our power play and our top line don’t score, we have a tough time,” Cassidy said. “Our goaltender kept us in the game.”Nashville was even worse, shut out on five power plays. That included a double-minor on Marchand at the end of the first period for high-sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct.“Well, I mean he bit on an embellishment Calvin De Haan Jersey Womens , and that’s a tough penalty to call with a second left in the period in a game like that,” Marchand said. “So yeah it was frustrating.”Josi posted his 300th career point. He got the puck near the blue line and then skated up the right side before cutting back across the ice, beating Halak with a wrister at 14:49 of the first period.NOTES: A native of Kempele, Finland, Rinne is 28th in NHL history with 316 wins and just four shy of passing Miikka Kiprusoff for most by a Finnish-born goalie. His 53 shutouts rank 23rd in NHL history, one behind Bernie Parent and Ed Giacomin for 21st. Rinne is one of seven goalies with three 40-win seasons and one of 18 with at least 300 wins and 50 shutouts. … Nashville improved to 9-1-0 when leading after two periods this season. … Josi already had a season-high seven shots on goal through two periods and finished by tying the franchise record for shots by a defenseman with 10. … Bruins defenseman Torey Krug played his 400th NHL game. … Boston RW David Backs played his first game since being hurt Oct. 18.UP NEXTBruins: Host Dallas on Monday night to start a four-game homestand.Predators: Start a five-game road swing at Colorado on Wednesday night. TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs play nine of their next 11 games at home, but for now their coach, Mike Babcock, has eyes only on the first one at Scotiabank Arena, Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.“I don’t worry as much about the stretch as I worry about tomorrow,” Babcock said at practice Wednesday. “Florida beat us the other night Womens Deryk Engelland Jersey , we weren’t prepared at the start and they outplayed us, and then we were able to get the game back even in the third period.“We would like to start on time, like we did (Tuesday) night (at New Jersey). We know we’re playing a real good team. (Aleksander) Barkov ran our show last game. Dominated us, basically. We have to look after that.”Article continues below ...The Panthers (13-13-6) defeated the Maple Leafs in Florida on Saturday 4-3 in overtime with Barkov scoring three goals, including the winner.The Maple Leafs (22-10-2) completed their five-game trip Tuesday night with a 2-2-1 record after a 7-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils.The Panthers, meanwhile, used the victory over the Maple Leafs as a springboard and defeated the Sabres in Buffalo 5-2 on Tuesday with four third-period goals.“We’ve been in that situation so many times this year — one-goal games, trailing and coming back, letting a game fall again,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “It was important that. … I think we’re learning from our mistakes, to be honest with you. If I had to say one thing , I think we’re getting more mature in those situations.”Playing for an extended period at home might not be such as big advantage for the Maple Leafs as it might be for some other teams. The Maple Leafs have the best road record in the NHL at 13-5-1.“I just think we have good team depth, so if we play right we give ourselves an opportunity on most nights so we feel fortunate about that,” Babcock said.The Leafs are 9-5-1 at home.The Maple Leafs have been getting excellent play all season from defenseman Morgan Rielly, and he was strong in New Jersey again. He made a big defensive play on a Devils two-on-one to set up a Maple Leafs three-on-one on the counter attack that resulted in the first goal of the game.Rielly also scored his 11th goal of the season in the final second of the second period.“I knew it was getting down to it, so I just tried to get it on net,” Rielly said. “The fact that it went in before the end of the period was a little lucky. A nice break, I guess.”“Well, he’s got way better,” Babcock said. “His stick and his feet in the D-zone and defensive awareness have become way better. I think getting Ron Hainsey has really helped him that way. Obviously, he’s got good growth, we all knew he was good offensively Jonathan Marchessault Jersey , but the defensive part it’s been a huge difference. He’s doing a good job, he’s a good player. He skates really well which would be his greatest asset, he’s competitive and has lots of energy.”The Panthers, who are 6-8-2 on the road, defeated two of the better teams in the NHL in their past two games to get their record to .500.“We’ve been talking all year about being composed and protecting leads, and I think that’s probably the best we’ve done all year,” Boughner said. “It was good puck decision and puck management. I thought that we played hard D, and we never stopped going at ’em, which was important. (The Sabres) do come out hard in this building. We knew that. I think they’ve only lost three games here all year. They’re a good hockey team over there. This was a big road win for us.”
  4. TORONTO (AP) — William Nylander’s contract impasse with the Toronto Maple Leafs has ended.The restricted free agent signed a six-year deal Saturday Eric Fehr Jersey Womens , just before the 5 p.m. deadline. The deal is worth $10.2 million this season and $6.9 million a year the rest of the seasons.Nylander, the Calgary-born Swede selected eighth overall in 2014, had to sign by the deadline to be eligible to play in the NHL this season. He and the club had been at odds on the terms of a new agreement after his entry-level contract expired July 1, with negotiations stretching through the summer, into training camp and ultimately forcing the 22-year-old winger to miss 26 games. The son of former NHLer Michael Nylander remained in Europe during contract talks.“Going home,” Nylander posted to Twitter along with a picture of his Leafs’ hockey bag about 30 minutes after the contract was announced.Leafs coach Mike Babcock remained confident throughout the negotiations that Nylander would eventually return.“We think Willy’s going to be here, and we think Willy’s going to be here for a long time ,” Babcock said earlier this week. “We think he’s going to be a career Leaf. That’s what we think. … That’s what we believe.”Nylander is coming off back-to-back 61-point seasons, including a 2017-18 campaign that saw him score 20 goals and add 41 assists. He had 49 points at even strength, with a team-high 34 assists. He has 48 goals and 87 assists for 135 points in 185 career games. Nylander has added two goals and six assists in 13 playoff outings. LAS VEGAS (AP) Last spring, after another crushing postseason loss, Capitals coach Barry Trotz flew to Russia to meet with his best player.Trotz spoke with Alex Ovechkin about his game and how it might be fine-tuned to prolong his career. They discussed the coming season and setting the tone in training camp for a team getting younger and undergoing a roster overhaul.There were bumps in the road, but the end result has seen a reinvigorated Ovechkin playing an instrumental role in getting Washington within reach of its first Stanley Cup.”You don’t want to be a one-trick pony in this league,” Trotz said. ”The league keeps changing on you.”Ovechkin Youth Jake McCabe Jersey , whose Capitals faced the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the final Monday night, scored 49 times this season after just 33 goals in 2016-17.”The one thing that Alex does better than anybody, maybe in the history of the game, is score goals,” Trotz said. ”He has fantastic release. He plays a physical game for a pure-skill guy. There’s so many things that he’s done for the game. But we talked about finding other ways to be effective.”The 32-year-old Ovechkin has done just that in pretty much every facet of his game.”I try to do my best in the regular year, in the playoffs,” he said. ”Of course Jason Pominville Jersey Kids , in the playoffs, you don’t have tomorrow.”Ovechkin has won the Richard Trophy seven times as the top goal scorer. He has 607 goals in 1,003 career regular-season games, 19th on the career list. Another 49 next season would tie him with Brendan Shanahan for 13th.”He has that ability to see past the block, see past the goalie,” Trotz said. ”Some of the better goal scorers in this league don’t see goalies, they just see empty spots. Guys that aren’t goal scorers , they see the goalie.”Trotz sees a certain ease in Ovechkin that wasn’t there when the Capitals were having great regular seasons only to fall well short in the playoffs.”He’s very comfortable within our group,” Trotz said. ”And he’s very comfortable pushing forward and not worrying about anything else.”That comfort was on display Sunday when he was asked about the impact his first trip to the Stanley Cup final is having in Russia.”Vladimir Putin called me and wished me luck,” Ovechkin said before pausing. ”No it’s (a) joke.”Until now, Ovechkin was criticized for the Capitals’ postseason failures. Washington had never moved beyond the second round during his career until this spring surge, with ousters by the Pittsburgh Penguins the last two years especially difficult.He had 46 goals in 97 career playoff games before adding 12 more on this current playoff run. But despite an experienced roster and plenty of blame to go around, the finger-pointing was often aimed at Ovechkin.”Being the captain and the highest-paid player, I think he got a lot of unfair criticism Authentic Justin Bailey Jersey ,” said Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik, who has played with and against Ovechkin. ”That comes with the territory. I think he understands that, but it was really good to see him get by the second round.”I don’t think he necessarily did that much different. I think we just played better as a team.”
  5. Two of the top four teams in the NHL are guaranteed to be out the playoffs after the second round.Goodbye Nashville or Winnipeg. Goodbye Boston or Tampa Bay. Thanks for playing.That’s the reality under the divisional playoff format that could pit the top two teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences against each other in round 2 after Pittsburgh and Washington were forced into that predicament in back-to-back playoffs.”There’s not a whole lot of logic there Authentic Mikael Backlund Jersey ,” Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said.How’s this for logic? If ranking teams 1 through 8 in each conference like the old format that was in place from 1993-94 through 2013, the No. 2 seed is facing the No. 4 seed, 3 versus 7, and 5 versus 6 in the first round in the East and the West this year.A Penguins-Capitals style repeat could happen this year with the Central’s Predators and Jets on a crash course for a second-round showdown and the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning locked into a stacked Atlantic bracket with the Toronto Maple Leafs.”You’d think that’d almost be a third-round series kind of thing, but so be it,” Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said. ”It is what it is. You’re going to have to see a team like that eventually. There’s not much you can do to change it.”Maybe this spring will be enough to spark a change in the oft-criticized format in its fifth season that is agreed to between the league and NHL Players’ Association through the 2019-20 season. The Capitals getting knocked out in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Penguins didn’t lead to much debate.”I would assume after his year there’d be a bigger appetite to do it,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said. ”In the past it hasn’t affected as many teams as might be required to get that movement. It’s basically been us that’s been the team that’s not benefited from the 1 through 8. But we’ll see what happens this year with a couple more really good teams being beat out in the second round.”Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the playoff format is not a burning issue for owners, wasn’t discussed by GMs and should be looked at over a long period of time instead of focusing on ”anomalies.””It’s worked I think for the most part as we anticipated it would work,” Daly said. ”I do believe in terms of the matchups in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they’re better with this format. They’re just more intense and more familiar with this format than they were in the old format.”Reigniting and creating new rivalries was the goal of this playoff format, which mimics the one in place for most of the ’80s and early ’90s. Inequities have happened, but so has plenty of drama on Cup runs by the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and the Penguins twice.”I think that as a fan, you want to see matchups against rivals,” said New Jersey defenseman Ben Lovejoy Mike Smith Jersey , who won the Cup with Pittsburgh in 2016. ”I think that that pits archenemies against each other more often and it can backfire every once in a while. You can get two high seeds playing each other in the first round or the second round and perhaps that’s not fair but I think ultimately it’s good for the game to have heated playoff series against teams that don’t like each other and see each other a lot.”Heated playoff series make this time of year fun, but Predators versus Jets and Bruins versus Lightning would be just as compelling, if not more so, in the conference finals. Hockey people reluctant to fault the system typically take an approach like Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who said, ”Whether the format itself is right or wrong, if you want to win the Cup, you have to find a way to get through this format.”The difficult part is the format isn’t created equally, making one road to the third round or the Cup Final potentially easier than another.”I don’t necessarily agree with how it is, but it’s the way it is,” said winger Wayne Simmonds, whose Flyers open against the Penguins. ”You have to have a mindset that you’re going to play teams in your division first and foremost and that’s just the way it is.”Orpik said players can’t wait to revisit the format when the agreement is up, which could be part of the next round of collective bargaining talks. But there’s no consensus on what would be better – a return to 1 through 8, league-wide 1 through 16 or something else. The expected addition of a 32nd team in Seattle could spur change, too.”You can play a 1-to-16 playoff pool Artemi Panarin Jersey , but I would suggest to you that there’ll be inequities in that,” Predators GM David Poile said, referencing travel among the issues. ”Pick your poison. I think you change that and you come up with the next idea, you’d run into the same thing. … I don’t think there’s any exact playoff plan that everybody would say is perfect.”— NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck got to watch his teammates put on a goal-scoring show in Music City.Now he can’t wait to see what they do back home in Winnipeg with a chance at history.The franchise that just won its first playoff series in the first round is heading home for Game 6 with a chance to eliminate the Presidents’ Trophy winners and clinch Winnipeg’s first berth in the Western Conference final.”It’s going to be awesome,” Hellebuyck said. ”Our home fans have been waiting for this for a while.”Kyle Connor had two goals and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Nashville Predators 6-2 on Saturday night to grab a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven conference semifinal.Jets captain Blake Wheeler said they have a little bit of experience with a chance to close out an opponent. Winnipeg ousted Minnesota in five games in the first round.”We’re going to have to play our best game of the year,” said Wheeler, who had three assists. ”This is a team that doesn’t go away. We’ve played them 10 times now this year and they fight to the very end every single game. We have a ton of respect for how hard they play every night.”Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Scheifele each had a goal and an assist, and Paul Stastny and Mathieu Perrault also scored as the Jets got four goals on 14 shots in the second period. Nikolaj Ehlers added two assists.Yannick Weber and Ryan Johansen each scored for Nashville. The Predators have not won consecutive games since taking a 2-0 lead over Colorado to start the playoffs, but defenseman P.K. Subban insisted they will be back for a Game 7.”We’ve got a ton of experience in here,” Subban said. ”We’ve had our backs against the wall before. Like I said, we’re going to go to Winnipeg, we’re going to win a game, we’re going to come back here. Every single guy in here believes that.”Nashville coach Peter Laviolette noted his Predators have won in Winnipeg before. They won 2-1 Thursday night to tie up the series at 2-2.”The plane’s already booked, and we were ready to go Shane Doan Jersey ,” Laviolette said. ”There’s no group that I’d rather be with to win one hockey game than this group.”Pekka Rinne, Nashville’s Vezina Trophy finalist, was pulled for the third time this postseason after giving up six goals on 26 shots.Lady Antebellum became the latest star act to handle the U.S. anthem, and the Grammy-winning trio missed part of the lyrics. But Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton waved the rally towel, and one of first catfish to hit the ice was tossed by Caleb Daniel, a 5-year-old Predators fan with a new heart.Laviolette switched his lines again, swapping out Scott Hartnell for Kevin Fiala. This change didn’t work.Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice brought back Perrault on the third line after missing eight games with an upper-body injury.The Predators had plenty of great scoring chances while outshooting the Jets 11-7. Only a great performance by Hellebuyck kept it scoreless through the first period for the first time in this series.”It starts with Connor,” Connor said of Hellebuyck. ”He’s been the backbone the whole year. He played great again tonight.”They made up for that in the second. Patrik Laine helped get the Jets on the board with a shot that deflected off Stastny’s right hand and past Rinne at 7:44. Defenseman Yannick Weber tied it up for Nashville with a wrister from the left circle at 11:08.Then the Jets scored two of their next three goals 2:05 apart.First, Connor scored off the rebound of a shot by Scheifele with 7:30 left for his first postseason goal, then Rinne lost his stick in a scrum in the crease. The puck squirted out, and Byfuglien scored with a slap shot for a 3-1 lead with 5:25 remaining. Connor made it 4-1 with a wrister from the slot with just under three minutes to go.The period seemed to be slipping further away from Nashville when Viktor Arvidsson went to the box for slashing. But Johansen scored his fifth goal this postseason with 2:01 remaining for the first short-handed goal of his career in the postseason.The Jets made it 5-2 just 28 seconds into the third, stifling any Nashville rally when Scheifele scored his ninth goal this postseason from the slot. Perreault capped the scoring at 6:23 to chase Rinne for the second time this series.NOTES: Nashville now is 0-4 when trailing after two periods this postseason. … Weber’s goal was the fourth of his career in the postseason and first with Nashville.—
  6. Since becoming the Nashville Predators‘ coach before the 2014-15 season Calgary Flames T-Shirts Authentic , Peter Laviolette has frequently sung the praises of forward Calle Jarnkrok, trumpeting his versatility and ability to play a 200-foot game.Never has Jarnkrok proven more valuable to Nashville than during Saturday night’s 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. After tallying an even-strength goal in the second period, he tied the score with a power-play marker at 5:44 of the third period, then untied it with a shorthanded goal at 11:54.Not only was it the first hat trick of his career, it was just the second time in franchise history a player has scored an even-strength, power-play and shorthanded goal in the same game. It was also just the seventh time since 2013-14 it has happened in an NHL game.Article continues below ...Jarnkrok will try for an encore Monday night when the Predators entertain the Tampa Bay Lightning in a marquee matchup at Bridgestone Arena.“I thought he played terrific,” Laviolette said of Jarnkrok. “Forget about the goals, it was just the game in general. I thought he was really moving, he was competing, did an excellent job on his line and got a power-play opportunity. He certainly did a good job at that as well. The shorthanded goal is a real big goal.”Jarnkrok’s career night allowed Nashville (14-5-1) to snap a three-game losing streak and maintain its Central Division lead over Minnesota. The Predators also tied two other teams for the league lead with 14 victories.One of those teams is Tampa Bay (14-5-1), which went overtime Saturday to outlast Philadelphia 6-5. The Lightning blew a 5-1 lead with less than 10 minutes left in regulation Calgary Flames Hoodies Authentic , coughing up four goals in just over six minutes. But they emerged with two points as Anthony Cirelli notched his fourth goal 1:47 into the extra period.Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was relieved to pick up the win, but called the performance one of the five worst by his team this year.“It was a weird game,” he said. “We’re up 5-1 and I don’t think the game felt like we were up 5-1. And it started getting physical there. It kind of gave the crowd a little bit of life. Then they started getting breaks they probably deserved. From a coach’s perspective, it’s probably not one you’re too happy with, but I’m sure the fans were pretty entertained.”The Lightning lead the league in goals, averaging more than 3 ½ per game with great depth up front. But the absence of goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who’s out for at least another month to six weeks with a broken foot, has left them vulnerable defensively.Former Arizona backup Louis Domingue is the team’s present starter. His 3.58 goals-against average and .889 save percentage will remind no one of Vasilevskiy, although Domingue did score an overtime win last year in Nashville.The Predators won the teams’ first meeting this year on Nov. 1, taking a 4-1 decision as Pekka Rinne came off injured reserve to save 42 shots. Rinne (7-2-1, 1.67 Calgary Flames Hats Authentic , .943) is expected to start this one. Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck recently stopped a puck near his collarbone. It was a shot that, in years past, he might not have thought about twice.This time, it hurt.“Didn’t feel very good,” Hellebuyck said.He and his fellow NHL goalies will be wearing a smaller chest protector this season as the league continues to reduce the size of equipment, following recent reductions for pads and pants. The overall aim is to boost scoring while at the same time rewarding athletic ability in the crease by eliminating unnecessary padding that wasn’t protecting goalies, but instead simply helping them block pucks.A 190-pound goalie and a 240-pound goalie will no longer cut the same figure on the ice.“Three or four years ago, talking to some of the best goalies in hockey … they wanted us to try to find a way to make goalies look closer to the size they were,” Kay Whitmore, NHL vice president of hockey operations, told The Canadian Press. “The biggest complaint was Custom Calgary Flames Jerseys , ‘If I weigh 50 pounds more than another guy, why do we look the same?'”The league, working in conjunction with the NHL Players’ Association, has focused on reducing the size of the shoulders on chest protectors by roughly an inch to make them less boxy and more form-fitting. The same goes for the padding on a goalie’s arms.Getting the new equipment has taken longer because of delays with manufacturers, but Whitmore said the league is close to what will become the “new normal.”“We wanted to get it right once and for all,” he said. “It was a more complicated piece of equipment than when we introduced the new pants or pads. We can ask companies to make changes, but things didn’t move very fast until we created a standard, gave them specifics and asked them to build to it.”Whitmore, who played the position for 155 games with four NHL teams in his 15-year pro career, said safety remains a top priority.“There’s no expectation that a goalie should have to do his job getting bruised daily,” he said. “I don’t want to see guys go on the ice fearful of getting hit with pucks , because that’s what they do for a living.”Mathieu Schneider, special assistant to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, said the personal nature of chest protectors has been a challenge. Some goalies had worn their old ones for a decade or more.“The irony is each time we’ve made equipment smaller, it’s gotten lighter and goalies have gotten better,” said Schneider, a former NHL defenseman. “It’s not like this snuck up on us.”Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen said he is fine with the changes, adding that an inch of missing shoulder coverage shouldn’t make a difference in terms of results if he’s on his game.“It’s about being square,” Andersen said. “If I’m relying on that extra inch, I’m in trouble already.”Fellow Maple Leafs goalie Garret Sparks said he thinks the change could eventually help raise the skill level at the position.“It just pushes me to be better,” he said. “I’m open to the challenge as long as everybody’s covered.”NHL shooters scored more times in 2017-18 than in any season since 2005-06, averaging nearly six goals per game.With that in mind Carolina Hurricanes T-Shirts Authentic , Hellebuyck said he doesn’t see a need to change — for any reason.“I’m not happy about it because it’s my job,” he said. “And really what they want is me to be worse.”With the process underway since 2016, Whitmore said, recent history gives him confidence the new gear will provide the game an overall benefit.“It makes the job a little more difficult,” he said. “We changed other things to make goaltenders more mobile. At first they didn’t agree with it, but once they started playing they felt faster, quicker and actually got better. I don’t expect anything different from this once they adapt.”
  7. TORONTO — The New York Rangers will need to be wary of the Toronto Maple Leafs revived power play Saturday night when the teams meet at the Scotiabank Arena.After the Maple Leafs struggled through an 0-for-17 drought with the man advantage in their previous four games , they were 3-for-3 on the power play Thursday night in a 6-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.“I don’t think there was any sense of panic,” said Maple Leafs center John Tavares, who scored twice, once on a power play Thursday. “We just tried to fine-tune, refocus, look at some things, get some practice time, some good video sessions, talk about it and sometimes you just get some better bounces and get rewarded. Overall, got some good results there and obviously, want to carry it forward.”Article continues below ...On a positive note for the Rangers , they were 5-for-5 killing penalties with a short-handed goal that turned out to be the game-winner Tuesday in a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks after going 11-for-17 on the penalty kill in the previous four games. They are tied for fourth in the NHL with five short-handed goals.“Listen, we haven’t felt great about ourselves for a while,” Rangers coach David Quinn said after his team scored three third-period goals against Anaheim. “It’s been duly noted that we’ve been in a little bit of a spiral here; we’ve blown some leads; we’ve played some good hockey, but not good enough, and found ways to lose. But tonight was a feel-good moment for us. We didn’t play great in the first two, we didn’t play poorly; it was a very ‘blah’ hockey game, I thought, for two periods. And to be able to overcome the first two periods and play with the purpose and the pace that we did, a little bit of an edge to our game, is a testament to our guys and the mental aspect of this game.”This will be the first of three meetings between the teams this season, two in Toronto. The Rangers (15-13-5) are 4-9-2 on the road. The Maple Leafs (23-10-2) are 10-5-1 at home.Although the Maple Leafs won all three games against the Rangers last season Authentic Jarvis Landry Jersey , New York has won six of the past 10 games between the teams dating to Feb. 15, 2015.The Maple Leafs had two goals and two assists from Auston Matthews on Thursday, while Morgan Rielly matched his career beat with four assists, two of them on power plays.Rielly feels that the extra practice with the man advantage paid off. “Yeah, I think so,” the defenseman said. “We were dry there for a bit and when you go through tough slump like that, you’ve just got to work through it. That’s all it was. We worked on it a lot in practice and we felt good. It was just a matter of time, so we were happy with it tonight.”The Maple Leafs will be without Zach Hyman for about three weeks with a sprained ankle.“We didn’t know for sure; it’s Hyman so he didn’t complain about anything and he kept playing anyway (Tuesday),” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “He got the slew foot there in New Jersey (in the 7-2 Toronto win) and went into the boards, hurt his ankle, kept playing. We thought — he tried to go (Thursday) and we thought he was playing (against the Panthers). Obviously Authentic Bradley Chubb Jersey , it’s like anything, you get an opportunity for someone else. He’s a real important part of our team because he’s so heavy. We don’t have enough heavy guys and he’s one of those guys. So, that hurts us that way to be heavy in the offensive zone. Someone else gets an opportunity, someone else gets an opportunity on the penalty kill and we’ll end up being better for it.”Cody McLeod (fractured hand) has missed 11 games for the Rangers, while Kevin Shattenkirk (separated shoulder) has missed three games and Jesper Fast (upper-body) has been put for two. WASHINGTON — It will be a Stanley Cup Finals rematch when the Vegas Golden Knights visit the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.The Capitals defeated the Knights in five games last spring to win their first-ever Cup and end the expansion Knights’ Cinderella season.It’s too early to call this year a sophomore slump, but the Knights have wobbled out of the gate 1-2. Vegas lost 4-2 to the Baffalo Sabres on Monday night in the second stop of a five-game road trip despite outshooting the Sabres 37-17.Article continues below ...“Too many (Grade A chances) obviously,” Knights forward Max Pacioretty told “You know, we limited them to a low number of shots, however, the shots that they did get were Grade A opportunities. We can’t leave our goaltender out to dry like that.”Jonathan Marchessault had a goal and an assist for the Knights.Vegas, which is 0 of 8 on the power play thus far , didn’t pick up its second loss until the 10th game of last season and now faces back-to-backs against the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.“They’re the Stanley Cup champs,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said of the Capitals. “We look at this game (Wednesday) night, it’s a big challenge for our group so we’ll get ready to play them. We know them, they know us real well, so hopefully it’ll be a good game and we’d like to come out on top.”Washington (1-0-1) comes into the game well rested, with five days off since dropping a 7-6 overtime decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins after blanking the Boston Bruins 7-0 on opening night.While Gallant somewhat downplayed the rematch in terms of its meaning beyond two points in the standings, new Capitals coach Todd Reirden expects an intense affair.“Obviously, through a five-game series you develop a little bit of hatred for certain guys, so it’s always nice to get back in to that sort of rivalry that we’ve developed with them,” he said. “I think it’ll be good for our team — especially after five days — to help us get right into the game and know it’s going to be a competitive situation with a real hungry team that’s looking to knock us off.”Reirden will have two additions to his lineup Wednesday night.Defenseman Michal Kempny, who missed the first two games with a concussion Womens Bradley Chubb Jersey , is set to return and be paired with John Carlson.“I never had a concussion before, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Kempny said. “Some headaches, and it was something a little bit weird, but then I felt a better and better every day.”Forward Dmitrij Jaskin, who was claimed on waivers from the St. Louis Blues just before the season began, will make his Washington debut skating on the fourth line with center Nic Dowd and Devante Smith-Pelly.For the Knights, forward Cody Eakin, who has been out with a lower body injury, could return. He provided 11 goals and 16 assists in 80 games last season.Capitals goalie Braden Holtby pitched a shutout opening night before surrendering seven goals against the Penguins. Holtby allowed eight goals versus the Knights in the final four games of last spring’s finals as Washington rallied from a 1-0 deficit.Marc-Andre Fleury has a 3.93 goals-against average in two-plus games this season. He surrendered four goals per game to Washington in the Cup finals.
  8. Raiders waive injured 2017 second round pick Obi Melifonwu Womens Kelechi Osemele Jersey , sign free agent cornerback Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie After weeks of Jon Gruden saying Obi Melifonwu was “still being evaluated” for a mystery injury he suffered in camp, the Raiders have now officially waived him.The 2017 round two pick missed all but five games last season with injury and was twice placed on injured reserve. It’s still possible Melifonwu could be placed on injured reserve for the Raiders should he clear waivers. But it speaks volumes that the Raiders weren’t interested in waiting until after the roster cutdown to place him on IR.Melifonwu was drafted to be the answer to the Raiders’ lingering questions about covering tight ends. He was to team up with Karl Joseph to be the long term safety tandem. That obviously didn’t happen.The move to waive Melifonwu was made in order to add free agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers Cromartie. The 32-year-old cornerback adds to a crowded, but questionably talented group of corners.Follow @LeviDamienRaiders vs Chargers fantasy football advice: Look for a shootout The first win of the season for the Oakland Raiders has brought the kind performance that hadn’t been experienced yet this season. In the high-scoring win, many Raiders performed well on offense and that helped raise their fantasy value after a miserable Week 3 against Miami. My biggest lock of the week, Marshawn Lynch Womens Justin Ellis Jersey , followed it up with 130 yards on the ground and it could have been a lot more if not for an early whistle. Derek Carr threw for many yards (437) and was slightly careless with the football (two interceptions), but had four touchdowns. At wide receiver, Amari Cooper got back over the century-yard mark and Jordy Nelson had a touchdown along with a clutch two-point conversion. My one big miss was Jared Cook. He had two touchdowns and more yards on Sunday (110 yards) than the Browns’ gave up to the position in the first three games combined. Hopefully, the brilliant week on offense against Cleveland will create momentum and bring more fantasy glory going forward starting on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Must startQB Derek CarrCarr has been averaging over 340 yards per game and finally delivered a plethora of touchdowns passes throwing four against the Browns. The game this past Sunday could be a turning point for the team offensively since they had to win in dramatic fashion. Now, Carr gets to face a defense that gave up 298 yards passing to the 49ers who are without Jimmy Garoppolo and allows 2.5 passing touchdowns per game. QB Philip RiversSomehow Oakland has yet to give up a 300-yard passing game. This Sunday , I bet that will change. Philip Rivers historically torches the Raiders and I don’t see why this week would be any different knowing he will be able to sit in the pocket for as long as he likes. RB Marshawn LynchLynch is just a beast. When Jon Gruden asked for full-time Marshawn Lynch, he sure got him. Los Angeles is allowing 4.44 yards per carry, but teams haven’t been trying to run against the Chargers frequently for whatever reason. Teams have ran for more than 82 yards just once this season against their front. However, Lynch is running like he can’t be beat. And, more good news for Lynch fantasy owners Authentic Rashaan Melvin Jersey , he received 20 out of the 29 carries for the Raiders. Gruden is going to be feeding the hot hand that is Lynch. TE Jared CookCook has played exceptionally well this entire season and is a mismatch against any team. 49ers TE Greg Kittle had 125 yards and one touchdown against the Bolts on Sunday. The Carr-Cook connection is slightly better than C.J. Beathard and Kittle. Start Cook. RB Melvin GordonMelvin Gordon has 475 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns on the season. He is a must-start against any defense in the NFL, especially the Oakland defense that let Nick Chubb get loose twice in just three total plays. Proceed with CautionWR Amari CooperLos Angeles has given up eight touchdowns to the position this season providing an opportunity for Cooper to continue the momentum from last week’s performance.However, Cooper seems to be working on a bi-weekly basis. So last week’s impressive outing doesn’t mean Cooper will repeat that success. Also, facing one of the best corners in the game in Casey Hayward. WR Jordy NelsonNelson only had 48 yards receiving last week, but added in a touchdown and a game-saving two-point conversion en route to putting up two-nice weeks in a row. It seems Nelson’s rapport with Carr is consistently improving. Nelson might not wow fans with huge yardage numbers Cheap Kolton Miller Jersey , but I see him being a threat in the redzone and on key third-downs. Remember, that was Michael Crabtree for Carr in the past. Nelson could become that with time. BenchRaiders D/ST, Chargers D/STThe Raiders offense has found its groove and there is no way Rivers won’t be lighting up the Oakland secondary with unlimited time to throw. It’s tough to imagine either of these defenses having a great fantasy outing. Not while Lynch is running through walls and Carr and Rivers are lighting up secondaries. So, bench the defenses. I wouldn’t rule out anyone else.
  9. We are required to inform you that these Foretellings are works of satire and are not for the faint of heart. Due to their content they should not be read by anyone. Please enjoy at your own risk. -The EditorGreetings Oakland Raiders Womens T-Shirt , Raider Nation! It is I, the man of the hour, the tower of power too sweet to be sour, using 500 horsepower to make fools run and cower, Raiderdamus the Great and Powerful. The Raiders may be a little disappointing this year, but Raiderdamus and the Great Beyond will never let you down. With the goal in mind of edifying and entertaining each and every one of you as I do every week, I’ve once again entreated the aid of the Great Beyond to give us a clue as to the fate of the Raiders this week. The message I received is as follows. Fall on your faces, o mortals, and cower in fear and trepidation:“You’re back again! All that optimism you had about the Raiders’ season has to be down the tubes now. But you keep summoning me, and because I have nothing better to do I’ll keep sending these messages. Who are you playing this week? The Seahawks? And where is the game? Oh, that’s gotta suck.The people of Seattle like everything fast and convenient, except their commutes. They are busy folks, and don’t have time to wait to use a bathroom when walking down the street or find a trash can when shooting up heroin on the sidewalk. It’s for this reason that they’ve exchanged the quality of decent coffee for Starbucks and the wholesome goodness of actual food for 7-11. There are, in fact, 44 7-11 locations in the greater Seattle area. But 7-11 is the finest Seattle can hope for, because the Seahawks are 5-11 at best. This year Oakland Raiders Hats , that might be good enough for second place in the NFC West.The Seahawks have two things going for them at this point, Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll. They will have to shell out big bucks to keep Wilson past 2019, but surely they don’t fear Carroll’s departure. It’s not like he’s known for jumping ship and bolting as soon as his team starts to fall apart and the heat gets turned up. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesWilson, on the other hand, might stay just for sentimental reasons. Russell Wilson makes Ben Carson look like Louis Farrakhan. He does a ton of charity work with sick kids in the Seattle area at children’s hospitals. But those kids need to get some perspective, because cancer will treat them far better than the Seahawks ever will.Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Celebrity Fight NightIf you ever have the misfortune of finding yourself in the Seattle area, you will see plenty of people wearing Seattle #12 jerseys that say “MAN” on the nameplate. This is because Seattleites are not true fans and don’t know the names of any of their players, and so their favorite Seahawks player is... themselves.Photo by Elsa/Getty ImagesOkay first of all Susan, you don’t play for the Seahawks so sit the fuck down. You’re not a part of the team, you pay to sit in the stands and yell in the rain. I mean, Raider fans have Raider Nation, and it’s important to dress up and act crazy, but we don’t make jerseys that are essentially masturbatory fantasies about being part of the team. On the contrary, the chief purpose of Raider Nation is to scare the ever-living shit out of all opposing fans. The only people Seattle fans scare are the poor Colombian slaves who harvest their coffee.Seattle’s weather is such garbage, it doesn’t even make sense to have a football team there. Maybe the Seahawks should move to a nicer part of the country. Somewhere warmer and drier, with some clay instead of mud. Somewhere like Oklahoma City. Why Oakland Raiders Womens Hoodie , that would be just super! I’m almost to the goal line here, but it’s getting tiresome and predictable to keep running these jokes down your throat, so maybe I should just pass.But I have to give it to Seattle fans, they are some of the most longsuffering people in the country. They support the Mariners unfailingly, and despite holding the record for most wins in a season and some of the best players in baseball history (Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki), they have never won shit and will never win shit. The Seahawks actually have won a Super Bowl, and every Seahawk fan was allowed to stay up well past their bedtime by their mommy and daddy to watch as they trounced Denver to win it. The following year, when they were in third grade, they also got to stay up to watch Seattle lose to New England.The Seahawks have had some truly tremendous players in their history. Steve Largent, Chris Warren, Kenny Easley, Shaun Alexander, Walter Jones, Cortez Kennedy. Of course Womens Customized Oakland Raiders Jerseys , no true Seahawk fan is old enough to remember any of them. But Raider fans remember one Seahawk great in particular:People say the Seahawks’ offensive line is terrible, but I beg to differ. I’ve never seen a line shut down the running game the way they can, it’s uncanny. And I’ve never seen a defensive line protect the quarterback the way theirs does. Seattle’s drafting is so bad, it makes the Cardinals look like the Vikings. They had one good draft in 2012 and have been riding it ever since. This year, they drafted Rashaad Penny, one of the best rushers in college football history, but in their infinite wisdom have made the undrafted Chris Carson their featured back. Prized second-round pick Malik McDowell did more damage in the back of a cop car than he did on the field.This game will be played in London, a market the NFL values so highly they send the Jaguars over there each year. It’s a country whose football hooligans in every stadium make the Black Hole look like Augusta National. They sing racist songs and shoot flares onto the field while both teams take turns not scoring- just like a Jaguars game! England has a long history with raiders, having first been pillaged by the Norsemen in AD 793. The Seattle defense is pillow-soft and should put up just as much fight as did the monks of Lindisfarne.The Seahawks don’t have many of the things which once made them the most feared team in the league. They don’t have a competent secondary, a fierce four-man pass rush, or innovative schemes on either side of the ball. But what they do have, is Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson, and on Sunday, that might just be enough.Seahawks win, 26-16.” Head coach Jon Gruden’s plan for the Oakland Raiders’ future better be good. He denied it but he and his Raiders are definitely tanking for the No. 1 overall pick in 2019. All the Raiders’ better players that Gruden didn’t pick are being traded or cut. It, of course , started when superstar edge-rusher Khalil Mack was traded to the Chicago Bears just before the season. That left Bruce Irvin in a position to fail as his move to defensive end full-time went from complementing Mack to trying to replace him. Irvin can get you a few sacks here and there but he isn’t a primary pass-rusher. But he was the best the Raiders had after Mack was sent to Chicago. Irvin has 3.0 of the Raiders seven sacks this year despite having his snaps significantly reduced.Three sacks in eight games isn’t great but was cutting him the answer? Did they watch any film on him from last year?Irvin is a good football player who was listed at No. 85 on the NFL’s Top-100 List. He plays the run well and covers very well at OLB but the defensive coordinator Paul Guenther never used his skill-set properly. Irvin’s 11 forced fumbles since the start of 2016 are the most in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, his pass-rush grade was only 60.5 while his coverage grade was 81.3 and his run defense grade was 73.6 with his grades matching his tape.When pass-rushing didn’t work out as a defensive end, he should have been moved back to OLB. Tahir Whitehead is the one that should have been cut or demoted as he has been the worst defensive player the Raiders have.PFF puts Whitehead’s run defense grade at 51.8 and his coverage grade a horrible 40.8. Never mind almost 100 percent of his targets being completed on him for seven touchdowns in eight games for a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Whitehead is giving up 17.6 yards per reception and had a completion of 71 yards thrown on him against the 49ers. Compare that to two TD’s and 7.1 yards per reception with a long of 22 yards Irvin gave up at OLB last year. When told how bad Whitehead was doing, Gruden acted like he had no idea it was like that.“Is that true? Is that your study,” Gruden said to the media. “30-for-30. Sounds like a television show or something. “You know what, he’s been a good linebacker. He’s been a good nickel linebacker in the league for a long time. I think when you look at the kind of throws that have been complete, you have to sometimes take a look at them. Are they quick screens? Are they screen passes? “I like Whitehead. I like Whitehead a lot. If you’re listening, Tahir, I think you’re one heck of a linebacker. But we have to do a better job. We have to do a better job stopping the run, stopping the pass. We have to do a better job collectively, coaches and players, figuring out our defense.”Is that his justification for keeping Whitehead around?Gruden just loves who he loves. This has to be a tank-move because the Raider defense won’t improve as much as it can if Whitehead is the OLB next year. As it is now, the Raiders cut the wrong guy.
  10. Raiders preseason week 2 Ballers & Busters vs Rams Usually the second preseason has the first team play a bit more than the first preseason game. Something like a quarter or a few drives. But not this year. This year the Raiders were facing the same team they will face in the season opener Cheap Gareon Conley Jersey , so neither team brought out the good china for the occasion.Even for the first preseason game we saw the first team offense and defense for a series. This game was a mass sit out with 28 players not dressing. The plus side is we got a longer look at some of the players fighting for a roster spot and for playing time. The result was some ugly, ugly football. The Raiders were scoreless at the half with just one first down with two turnovers. They managed to make a game of it late, but would end up losing 19-15.Despite to overall struggles to get out of their own way, there were actually quite a few solid performances. As usual, we start with those.BallersChris Warren IIITwo preseason games, two Top Baller spots. Warren was the workhorse back in this game, seeing 85% of the snaps and every carry. He was in the game from the first play to the last with only Jalen Richard seeing some time as a target out of the backfield. I guess they wanted to see if he could have a repeat performance of his preseason opener. He did that and kicked it up a notch.Most of Warren’s solid work came in the second half. Which makes sense because 13 of his 18 carries in the game happened in the second half. One drive in particular, the offense, after failing to get much of anything through the air all day, leaned on Warren to move down the field. He delivered with six runs for 41 yards and the touchdown to finish it off – his first as a pro.The following drive, he had a 13-yard run, 23 yards off a pitch play, and a 5-yard run to set the Raiders up for a 31-yard field goal. That’s another 41 yards and another score. The last 5-yard run put him over 100 yards on the day (104). He finished with 110 yards on 18 carries (6.1 ypc) and a touchdown. His only flaw was a couple times not picking up the blitz correctly.Paul ButlerButler quietly led the team in receiving with three catches for 35 yards. That tied with Jalen Richard who picked up most of those yards on a 29-yard catch in which Butler laid the key block. Most of Butler’s yards came on one play as well. It was a catch that went for 24 yards to help set up the Raiders’ first touchdown of the game. He added a block on a 5-yard run and got downfield on the final punt of the game, yielding a block in the back penalty that had the Rams starting their final possession backed up against their own goal line.Marquel LeeThe second-year linebacker is stacking up solid performances. In just 22 snaps, he put up 5 tackles (4 solo) which led the team at the half. He filled his gap on a run stuff and teamed up for another on the next play to send the Rams on a three-and-out on their second series.Lee added two more run stuff on the Rams fourth series, one for a loss. He also did his part on another run to fill his gap and force the runner to find another opening. His tackle for loss was on third and goal at the one-yard-line all the way out left. That was his last series of the game.Oday AboushiWhile Chris Warren III gets all the headlines for his long runs Youth Donald Penn Jersey , it was blocking by guys like Aboushi opening up some sizable holes for him all day. Aboushi was a lead blocker on Warren runs of 5, 9, 8, 9, and his 3-yard touchdown run. For those unfamiliar, Aboushi is a 6-5, 315-pound journeyman who started 8 games last season in Seattle for Tom Cable. He was signed on the second day of Raiders training camp.Rashaan MelvinTwo of the first three plays for the Raiders defense were made by Melvin. He had tight coverage to force an incompletion on the first play, then on third and ten, made the tackle on a five-yard catch to force a three-and-out. He ended the next series as well with a pass defended on third and 7 for another three-and-out. He didn’t give up a catch on the long third drive and that was his day.Tank Carradine, Treyvon HesterHard to say how much either provides form a pass rushing standpoint, but as a run stopper, they were superb. The second play of the second series saw Hester hold his spot to allow the linebacker to make the stop for a 2-yard gain. On first and goal from the 5-yard-line on the Rams fourth drive, Hester and Carradine teamed up to make the stop for a two-yard gain. The next play, Hester made the stop for a 2-yard gain. Then on third and goal from the one, Carradine chased the QB down the line to cut of the edge so Lee could make the tackle for a loss of one. Hester would add two more run stuffs in the game while Carradine would make a tackle on a QB scramble on third down short of the sticks.Jason CabindaThe undrafted rookie had a rough first preseason game, but he rebounding in this one and finished leading the team with 6 tackles (3 solo). He made the tackle on three of the first six plays in the second quarter with a run stuff for two yards Womens Reggie Nelson Jersey , a tackle in a short catch, and another tackle on a catch to stop it at four yards on third and seven. He had two more run stops in the third quarter, one on third down to force a punt. And in the fourth quarter he teamed up for a run stuff for no gain.Shilique CalhounCalhoun was making his home in the Rams backfield. He would have been higher on this list if it weren’t for a couple costly stupid penalties. The first one was the first time we heard his name. It was on third and two and he hit the quarterback after the throw and was flagged for roughing the passer. That gave the Rams a fresh set of downs.For Calhoun’s part, he atoned for his mistake in those fresh downs, rushing around the edge to force the QB to step into a sack by Maurice Hurst. Then on third and 18, he hit the QB as he dumped the ball off for a short gain. The next series he had a tackle for a loss of three to help hold the Rams at a field goal.Calhoun would end his day as it began – with a big play and a costly penalty. With the Rams backed against their own goal line, he broke through the line to make a tackle for a loss of three. It was looking like they would have to punt it away out of their own end zone and give the Raiders one more shot at pulling out the win. That was snatched from them when Calhoun yanked on the running back’s facemask. The Rams were then able to kneel out the clock.Antonio HamiltonJust like Calhoun, Hamilton had a great day that was marred by a stupid penalty. His first potentially big play was on 4th and goal from the one-yard-line. He came up to put a helmet on the ball and knock it out of John Kelly’s arms for a fumble. Unfortunately, Kelly got a favorable bounce and recovered it in the end zone to score anyway. It could have gone the other way, though, and Hamilton did his part to make that happen.The next time the Rams were down and goal to go, Hamilton was again a thorn in John Kelly’s side. Kelly got the ball and tried the left side only to have Hamilton string him out all the way down the line, not giving an inch all the way out of bounds.Early in the third quarter came Hamilton’s stupid penalty. He made the stop on a short catch and then as the whistle blew to stop the play, he lifted up the receiver belly to back and slammed him to the turf. The penalty gave the Rams a first down well inside Oakland territory. Hamilton did his best to atone for it, having a pass defended followed by tight coverage for an incompletion on third and 13 that forced a field goal.James CowserHe had the one takeaway in the game for the Raiders. The Raiders had just pulled to withing seven points and on the first play of the next drive, Cowser dropped back Youth Marshawn Lynch Jersey , read the QB’s eyes, and had perfect position to pick off his pass. He returned it 15 yards and set the Raiders up at the LA 21-yard line. They scored a few plays later and opted to go for the lead, but the 2-point conversion failed and they remained down 16-15.Maurice HurstHurst’s first play was a run stop on third and goal from the 11-yard-line that ended the Rams drive at the end of the first half and forced them to settle for a field goal. His day was done at that point after 19 snaps. On the first drive of the third quarter, Hurst had his first sack as a Raider. Much like his draft classmate PJ Hall did last week, he got pressure up the middle and when pressure came from the outside, he was there to make the sack. That’s what the Raiders want from the two of them. Honorable MentionGareon Conley – played nine snaps and didn’t give up a catch.Nicholas Morrow – Was in on quite a few tackles, finishing 3rd on the team with 4 combined (2 solo).Jylan Ware – Laid key blocks on Warren runs of 13, 23, and 5 yards on the Raiders’ first two scoring drives. Also didn’t give up any pressures.Griff Whalen – Made the Raiders only touchdown reception, reaching back with one hand to make the catch at the goal line to put the Raiders within one in the fourth quarter.Continue to the Busters Back from the bye to the same old same old. This defense is bad. Perhaps historically bad. The Colts merely watched the Seahawks walk through the Raiders in London and used the same formula. The Raiders showed some fight on offense – mostly because the Colts defense isn’t so good either – but in the end perfection was needed to keep pace with what the defense was surrendering. One punt in the game for the Colts and four straight TD drives to end the game tells the story.BallersDerek CarrThe second and third quarters saw Derek Carr play his best football all season. He threw three touchdown passes and picked up the other on a keeper at the goal line.On his first scoring drive, Carr converted a third and 8 followed by passes of 19, 17, and the 31-yard touchdown strike to Seth Roberts. The next drive, he again converted a third down and finished it off with a 25-yard laser to Jared Cook for the touchdown. That score gave the Raiders their first lead at 14-10 after falling down 10-0 in the first quarter.The third quarter saw Carr complete passes of 18 and 11 yards and then on fourth and goal at the one-yard-line, call his own number as he stretched the ball over the goal line for the touchown and a 21-13 lead.After the Colts tied it back up, Carr answered with his fourth touchdown drive. It featured a 30-yard pass to Cook. The touchdown itself came on third and five from the 6-yard-line. He had some time to survey the field Womens Derek Carr Jersey , then stepped up to avoid pressure and found Brandon LaFell streaking across the back of the end zone for the score.Four plays into the fourth quarter, the game was lost with the Colts going up 42-28. Carr finished going 21 for 28 for 244 yards, 3 passing touchdowns, no interceptions, 1 rushing touchdown and a 136.6 passer rating.Jared CookThe man they were touting as the team’s number one receiver before trading Amari Cooper, continued to be the team’s top receiver. He had four catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. It was the second TD of the day from 25 yards out to give the Raiders their first lead of the game which they would carry into the third quarter. A 30-yard catch by Cook set up the team’s fourth TD of the game.Brandon LaFellThe man actually tasked with replacing Cooper’s spot on the offense was LaFell. Despite being inactive just the week before and not having a single catch on the season coming in, he stepped up. He had a 19-yard catch on the first scoring drive, an 18-yard catch on the third scoring drive, and scored the final touchdown from 6 yards out, breaking free from his defender and making himself available to a Carr as he freed himself up from defenders closing in on him. He even laid a downfield block on a Jalen Richard screen pass for eight yards. LaFell finished with 3 catches for 39 yards and a touchdown.Offensive lineThey all deserve credit in this one. Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker kept Carr clean all day, while the interior trio of Jon Feliciano, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson opened up running lanes for Doug Martin and company to average 5.4 yards per carry on the day.Honorable MentionErik Harris -- Had the only hit on Andrew Luck all game and added a couple passes defended. One of those passes he defended came in the end zone. He nearly intercepted it.Jalen Richard – Had 8 catches for 50 yards and 2 runs for 14 yards.Keith Smith – Some solid run blocking and added an 8-yard catchJohnathan Hankins – Finished 2nd on the team with 9 combined tackles. That’s quite impressive for a nose tackle.Continue to the BustersFollow @LeviDamien
  11. The Detroit Lions waived running back Zach Zenner from the reserve-injured list.Detroit made the move Wednesday as it prepared to play at San Francisco.Zenner hurt his back against Cleveland in the preseason finale.He earned a spot on the Lions' roster as an undrafted rookie in 2015. He emerged as Detroit's No. 1 running back in 2016 when he closed the regular season with more than 200 yards of offense over the last two games.Zenner had 420 yards rushing and five touchdowns along with 20 receptions for 207 yards in 28 games over three seasons with the Lions.At South Dakota State Detroit Lions Hats , he became the first Division I running back to have for 2,000 yards rushing in three straight seasons. Even Broadway Joe thinks the New York Jets might finally have their next franchise quarterback.Joe Namath met Sam Darnold on the field at MetLife Stadium before the team's third preseason game and it provided quite the snapshot.Past meets future — and, maybe, the present."I've seen Sam perform tonight," Namath said during the TV broadcast, "better than I've seen any rookies I can remember."That's high praise from the only man to quarterback the Jets to a Super Bowl victory.And that came 50 seasons ago.The stunning win over the Colts will be celebrated by the team and its fans this year. It's also a brutal reminder of how long it has been since the Jets were on top of the football world.Darnold, they hope, can someday end that drought."That's the goal for everyone," Darnold said a few weeks after being drafted No. 3 overall. "Anything short of that is a failure and we're aware of that. Everyone is aware of that. Whatever my role is, I'm going to star in that role to work us toward that Super Bowl."The former USC star had a solid summer and impressed the coaching staff with his ability to quickly digest the playbook along with his veteran-like presence and approach.Darnold was given every chance to win the competition that included Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater, and he didn't disappoint. Bridgewater was traded to New Orleans on Wednesday."He's able to take the classroom knowledge and all the stuff he's studied in the classroom and take it right to the field and execute it Detroit Lions Hoodie ," offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. "We're throwing a lot of football at him and he's been able to handle it."Darnold could become the 31st quarterback to start a game for the Jets since Namath's last appearance for the franchise in 1976. That's a lot of searching and a long time waiting.There's big-time hope that Darnold is the answer, and that has the Jets and their fans optimistic about this season — and the future."He did everything we've asked him to do," coach Todd Bowles said.Here are some other things to know as the Jets enter the regular season:WHOSE LINE IS IT?While all eyes have been on the quarterbacks, the offensive line will be a major focus — no matter who's calling the plays in the huddle.The Jets signed center Spencer Long, who's an upgrade over Wesley Johnson, but the rest of the line is back. And, it remains to be seen if that's a good thing.Inconsistency and injuries made for a shaky season, and depth this year could be an issue. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum dealt with an ankle injury most of the summer, and right guard Brian Winters was in and out of the lineup with soreness."They've got to work together," Bowles said of the line. "They have to be healthy, obviously Customized Detroit Lions Jerseys , but I feel good about them when they are healthy."SEARCH CONTINUESOne of the priorities for the Jets during the offseason was to find a pass-rushing presence, particularly at outside linebacker.No one emerged during training camp, and that could be something general manager Mike Maccagnan tries to address as the season goes along.Leonard Williams is perhaps New York's best overall player, but even he had only two sacks last season — although he racked up 28 quarterback hits. He needs help, though, and that means the likes of Jordan Jenkins, Josh Martin and Henry Anderson must provide consistent pressure.CATCHING ONAn under-the-radar strength might be the Jets' receiving group, which might lack what some consider a true No. 1 talent but has good playmaking potential.Robby Anderson had a breakout year in his second season, catching 63 catches for 941 yards and seven TDs while establishing himself as a deep threat. Jermaine Kearse led the Jets with 65 receptions after coming to New York from Seattle. Quincy Enunwa looked solid late in camp as he returned from a neck injury that sidelined him all last season. Terrelle Pryor, still working his way back from two ankle surgeries in the past year, showed flashes this summer of the player who was so promising in Cleveland in 2016.SOLID SECONDARYThe Jets' biggest offseason free-agent addition was cornerback Trumaine Johnson , who signed a five-year, $72.5 million deal. They're hoping he and Morris Claiborne combine to form one of the NFL's top cornerback combinations.Add in the safety tandem of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, both coming off solid rookie seasons, and New York's secondary could be a strength after struggling quite a bit the past few years."It's all (on) what we do with it," Claiborne said. "We have all the pieces. We just have to find a way to put it together and go get some wins."PLAYOFFS OR BUST?The Jets haven't been to the postseason since the 2010 season — back when Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez were all the buzz.Yeah, it's been a while.But despite the drought, owner Christopher Johnson hasn't set a playoff mandate for Bowles and Maccagnan. Johnson wants to see continued progression. The feeling is that the franchise is building toward next season, when the team has more than $100 million in cap space and could really make a playoff push.
  12. 3 biggest surprises from the Lions’ 2018 53-man roster Nearly two hours after the deadline , the Detroit Lions finally announced the final cuts in order to get their roster down to the 53 men required by the league. If you haven’t seen the list of players on the Lions 2018 roster, be sure to check it out here.Here are the three biggest surprises from the Lions’ initial roster.SIX wide receivers?Throughout this entire preseason, we debated whether the Lions should keep four or five wide receivers. I was in the four wide receiver camp, along with our own Hamza Baccouche, but I’ll admit Brandon Powell played well enough this preseason to be on an NFL roster.However, I don’t think I saw anyone suggest the Lions keep six receivers on the roster, and for that sixth receiver to be Bradley Marquez. Marquez was a guy that Detroit used a lot on special teams this preseason, but he made almost no impact whatsoever as a receiver. In three games, he had just one reception for a 3-yard touchdown. However, we probably should have known something was up when he sat out the entire preseason finale.10 offensive linemen, 7 defensive linemenThis offseason we boasted that the Lions’ offensive line depth had improved, but Detroit spent the entire preseason trying to prove us wrong. The offensive line struggled mightily in pass protection and only occasionally opened up rushing lanes for the Lions’ new-and-improved backfield. As a result, many believed a lot of the Lions reserve offensive linemen were on the chopping block this weekend. Instead, the Lions kept nearly everyone. Kenny Wiggins? In. Leo Koloamatangi? In. Joe Dahl? In. Greg Robinson? No. Hey, how did you get here, Greg? Go away.The only guy it seems the Lions didn’t keep was Corey Robinson , who they traded away to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional 2020 pick. On the other side of the ball, we figured the Lions would keep all the help they could get. Instead, the Lions cleaned house. Alex Barrett, Jeremiah Valoaga and Jeremiah Ledbetter were all semi-surprising cuts, and left Detroit with just seven total defensive linemen: Ezekiel Ansah, Anthony Zettel, Da’Shawn Hand, A’Shawn Robinson, Ricky Jean Francois and Sylvester Williams. Of course, guys like Devon Kennard and Eli Harold will act as defensive ends quite often in this defense, but it’s still surprising to see such low numbers on the defensive line.Cutting DeShawn SheadShead was being heralded as one of the Lions’ most underrated signings this offseason, and he didn’t even end up making the cut. Shead was undoubtedly hurt by an injury that caused him to miss some time in the middle of the preseason, but he returned in time to showcase everything he has in the preseason finale.Shead entered training camp as the team’s starting No. 2 cornerback. Though he eventually would cede that role to Nevin Lawson, you’d think Shead would’ve had a chance to win it back after Lawson’s nightmarish third preseason game against the Buccaneers. Instead, the Lions decided to cut Shead, leaving Teez Tabor as the only pure outside cornerback to come in should Lawson continue to struggle. While we haven’t gotten into scoreboard watching for playoff implications quite yet—it’s just mid-October y’all Color Rush Christian Jones Jersey , calm down—it is the bye week for Detroit Lions fans, so all we can literally do is scoreboard watch.So while we do that, we may as well dust off the Detroit Lions rooting guide. This won’t become a weekly feature quite yet, because the Lions have to prove to me they’re going to be in playoff contention, and the NFC picture has to be a little more clear to know which teams to truly root for.But, for now, here are the teams to root for in Week 6.The NFC North no-brainersBears (3-1) at Dolphins (3-2) — 1 p.m. ET (FOX)Root for: DolphinsBelieve it or not, the Bears are the top team in the division and tied for second in the conference right now. Coming in with a week’s rest against a team mid-collapse is good fortune for them, and it’s probably time to take Chicago seriously. Or Mitchell Trubisky will fall back to reality and throw seven interceptions. Cardinals (1-4) at Vikings (2-2-1) — 1 p.m. ET (FOX)Root for: CardinalsArizona looks absolutely horrible, but they took the Bears to the brink a couple of weeks ago. Minnesota has been one of the most inconsistent teams this season, so it’s impossible to just assume this will be a win here, even if they’re 10-point favorites this week.49ers (1-4) at Packers (2-2-1) — Monday, 8:20 p.m. ET (ESPN)Root for: 49ersWhile it’s crappy that each NFC North team is playing someone with a worse record than them, the good news is that a win for their opponents would be relatively harmless for the Lions. Arizona and San Francisco won’t be making a push for the playoffs this year, and a win for either would also help the Lions’ chances at a higher draft pick, should the season go south quickly. The restBuccaneers (2-2) vs. Falcons (1-4) — 1 p.m. ET (FOX)Root for: BuccaneersNormally Youth Frank Ragnow Jersey , it would make sense to root for the team with the better record here, but I want the Falcons buried for good. A 1-5 hole would be too much for Matt Ryan to pull that team out from, and I just don’t believe in the Bucs at all. Give them another week to be delusionally happy, and then watch them lose to the Browns the following week. Seahawks (2-3) vs. Raiders (1-4) — 1 p.m. ET (FOX)Root for: RaidersWe’ve long declared the Seahawks no longer a thing, with the Legion of Boom thoroughly disbanded, but Seattle has been counted out in October before and have figured things out by winter. They don’t look quite as bad as some expected them too, and while they’ll never catch the Rams this year, a Wild Card spot isn’t out of the question. AFC over NFC, always. Panthers (3-1) at Washington (2-2) — 1 p.m. ET (FOX)Root for: Washington This is a tricky one, but I’m pulling for Washington here for a few reason. First, I don’t think a Wild Card spot will come out of the NFC East, so I’m fine with just handing the division to Washington. The Eagles and Cowboys don’t look good enough to be a 10 or 11-win team this year, and the Giants are dysfunctional as ever. However, there’s a really good chance the NFC South produces a couple of playoff teams, and the Panthers are a prime candidate. A loss here for Carolina would be huge, because it’s a conference loss Youth Ziggy Ansah Jersey , too—a big tie-breaking factor.Rams (5-0) at Broncos (2-3) — 4:05 p.m. ET (FOX)Root for: BroncosAFC over NFC. The only reason to root for the Rams is if you have rightfully picked them for Survivor Football this week. Jaguars (3-2) at Cowboys (2-3) — 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)Root for: JaguarsAFC over NFC, plus the Cowboys have that dang tiebreaker over the Lions now. Root for the Jaguars for the Lions’ sake, and for humanity’s sake. You could power the world with the schadenfreude gained from a single camera shot of a visibly irritated Jerry Jones in his fancy suite. Who cares?Steelers at BengalsChargers at BrownsColts at JetsBills at TexansRavens at TitansChiefs at PatriotsIf all goes accoridng to plan...Here’s what the standings would look like if everything somehow fell in the Lions’ favor this week, starting with the division.NFC NorthBears (3-2)Packers (2-3-1)Vikings (2-3-1)Lions (2-3)Technically, the Lions can’t get out of the basement this week, as a tie counts as a half-win in the standings. However, being a single game out of first place after six weeks is a pretty good place to be for Detroit, considering their awful 0-2 start. NFC standings:1. Rams (5-1)2. Saints (4-1)t-3. Bears (3-2)t-3. Panthers (3-2)t-3. Washington (3-2)t-3. Buccaneers (3-2)7. Eagles (3-3)t-8. Packers (2-3-1)t-8. Vikings (2-3-1)10. Lions (2-3)t-11. Seahawks (2-4)t-11. Cowboys (2-4)t-11. Cardinals (2-4)t-11. 49ers (2-4)As you can see, it’s still not going to be an extremely rosy picture of the Lions coming out of this week, even if everything falls in their favor. If Detroit wants to make a serious run at this conference, they need to do one, simple thing: Win.
  13. Sam Darnold had nowhere to go but up after his first career snap.The rookie quarterback steadied himself quickly.Darnold threw an interception on his very first NFL play , and Detroit's Quandre Diggs returned it 37 yards for a touchdown to give the Lions an early lead over the New York Jets on Monday night. But by halftime, the Jets were up 17-10, and Darnold's debut was looking a lot better.Darnold was 11 of 15 for 122 yards after two quarters. That included a 41-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson in the second quarter.Despite the promising start, the Lions were booed by the home fans throughout the first half. Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions.Darnold was drafted with the third overall pick this year Youth Devon Kennard Jersey , and he earned the start in the season opener for the Jets. But his first throw looked ill-advised from the moment it left his hand, floating toward the left sideline, where Diggs picked it off.Darnold does have some company, at least. Jameis Winston had his first pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown in 2015. That was the first time a rookie's first throw was returned for a TD since Brett Favre — then with Atlanta — in 1991.Lions-Jets Week 1 injury report: Detroit’s starting lineup in perfect health Cheap Ziggy Ansah Jersey , 3 Jets ailing The Detroit Lions will be entering Week 1 of the season with as much health as a team can realistically expect. They released their final injury report for Monday night’s game against the New York Jets, and it’s pretty clean. In fact, only offensive lineman Andrew Donnal—who was added to the team earlier this week—was listed as questionable for Monday. Every other Lions player was not given an injury designation. The Jets, on the other hand , could be missing as many as three starters on Monday.Starting linebacker Josh Martin—a projected starter) who has been working his way through a concussion—is officially OUT for Week 1.Safety Marcus Maye missed his third straight practice on Saturday and is listed as doubtful vs. the Lions. On the offensive side of the ball, things look bad for receiver Jermaine Kearse. Kearse had a medical procedure done on his abdomen recently, and missed Thursday’s practice. He has since been limited in practice and is listed as doubtful for Monday.Here is the full injury report for both teams:Lions injury report:OL Andrew Donnal (knee) - OUTJets injury report:WR Jermaine Kearse (abdomen) - DoubtfulS Marcus Maye (foot) - DoubtfulLB Josh Marin (concussion) - OUT
  14. D.J. Moore had a day to remember.Both good and bad.Carolina's first-round pick had the first catch — and touchdown — of his fledgling NFL career when he hauled in a 51-yard scoring pass from Cam Newton with just over 2 minutes remaining Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.But Atlanta Falcons Hats , with a chance to send the game to overtime, Moore couldn't hang on.Newton's final heave into the end zone slipped through the rookie's hands, allowing the home team to escape with a 31-24 victory over the Panthers."Real frustrating," Moore said. "At the end of the day, you want to make that play every time."Trying to come back from a pair of 14-point deficits in the second half, the Panthers had a chance after Atlanta punted the ball away with 1:48 remaining. Starting at its own 16, Carolina drove into Falcons territory and had one last chance from the 31 with 5 seconds remaining.Newton threw one up from Moore in the left side of the end zone. The receiver managed to box out cornerback Robert Alford, though linebacker De'Vondre Campbell was still lurking next to him.Campbell somehow failed to knock down the ball, giving Moore a chance.But the rookie let it slip through from his grasp, ending the game."It was up there for us and I just knew the linebacker was in front of us," Moore said. "He kind of dropped it, so I had to go up underneath him. I just tried to reel it in."No such luck."I had a good shot at it," Moore said, "but it just came down too fast through his arms as I reacted."Newton was hit as he threw by Grady Jarrett, but managed to put the ball in the right spot."I was just trying to give somebody the opportunity to make a play," the quarterback said. "From what I did see before I got hit, that was as close to a one-on-one as anybody had. I was just trying to give him a chance."A few minutes earlier Atlanta Falcons Hoodie , the youngster was celebrating his first NFL catch.It was certainly one to remember.Moore made the grab at the Atlanta 34, put a move on safety Jordan Richards, shook off an attempted tackle by linebacker Duke Riley and sped between two more defenders to reach the end zone standing up, cutting the Falcons' lead to a single touchdown."We don't ever give up, no matter who the opponent is," Moore said.Newton turned in a gutsy effort after taking a vicious hit from Falcons safety Damontae Kazee early in the second quarter .Showing off his running ability, Newton scampered for a 10-yard gain on fourth-and-4 at the Atlanta 33.Knowing he had plenty of yards to extend the drive, the quarterback went into a slide. Kazee launched into Newton's head, delivering a helmet-to-helmet hit that left the Panthers star sprawled on the turf while skirmishes broke out all over the field.Receiver Torrey Smith delivered a retaliatory shot to Kazee, sending him to the turf and also drawing a personal foul. Falcons safety Ricardo Allen jumped on top of his teammate, protecting him from any further blows.Kazee was ejected from the game, but Carolina didn't pick up any extra yards because of the offsetting penalties."That probably isn't the most mature answer, but in the heat of the moment, I'm going to stand up for any of my guys," Smith said.Newton let out an emphatic scream as he left the field for quick check in the medical tent. He wasn't seriously hurt and was able to return to the field for the next play after the officials sorted out the penalties.Six plays later, the Panthers scored on Newton's 5-yard touchdown pass to Jarius Wright for a 10-3 lead.Newton, who has endured his share of tough hits over the years Customized Atlanta Falcons Jerseys , didn't seem too upset by Kazee's cheap shot after the game."It looked worse than it was," he said "I'm just lucky that nothing pretty much happened. This game isn't fit for cheap shots like that, but at the end of the day you can't blame him. He's playing as hard as he can, I'm playing as hard as I can. That's what this football game brings."Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at s://apnews/search/paul%20newberryDevonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and the uncomfortable question The Atlanta Falcons have a dilemma on their hands. Starting running back Devonta Freeman is currently nursing a knee injury and will be out for an undisclosed amount of time. Second-string RB Tevin Coleman has stepped in and has kept the offense moving, much like he has every time Freeman has been limited or unavailable in the past two years.Both Freeman and Coleman are excellent running backs who would start on most teams. Both are Falcons draftees, in consecutive years. They’ve complemented each other well and have contributed to making Atlanta’s offense one of the most dynamic in the NFL over the past few seasons.In a perfect world, Atlanta could afford to keep both in the long term. As we know as Falcons fans, however, the world is far from perfect. Rookie contracts get played out, and teams often have to let contributors go if they’re too strapped for cash.Free’s deal Freeman parlayed consecutive Pro Bowl seasons in 2015 and 2016 into a 5 year/$41.25 million contract extension which made him the third highest-paid running back in the league at the time (he’s currently the fourth highest paid RB at the moment). The writing was on the wall following this extension that Freeman was the team’s choice to keep, and that they would probably be fine with letting Coleman hit the free agency waters when the time came.Things haven’t been as cut-and-dried as the team might’ve hoped following the extension, however. Freeman has dealt with his fair share of injuries after the new contract kicked in, which is not his fault but is unfortunate timing. He suffered a concussion in training camp last year, and then sustained another concussion which cost him two games in the middle of the season (well, more like three games, since the injury happened in the first series against the Dallas Cowboys in week 10).Coleman picked up the baton and led the team as the featured back , scoring four touchdowns in the three games Freeman missed.Freeman was then limited in the NFC Divisional Round matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles with an MCL and PCL sprain that wasn’t discovered by the public until after the game. He had 10 carries for seven yards in that matchup.Coleman once again picked up the slack, taking the same 10 carries for 79 rushing yards and almost helping the team pull out a victory.The start of the 2018 season has led to more of the same — Freeman is once again sidelined with a contusion on the same knee he hurt last year, and Coleman has once again seamlessly stepped into the featured back role. Against the Panthers, the University of Indiana alum took 16 carries for 107 rushing yards and became the first player to rush for 100+ yards against Carolina in 22 games.All of these developments in the past year have us asking an uncomfortable question: did the Falcons pay the wrong running back?The great debateFreeman has done a lot for the franchise. He’s totaled over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of the past three seasons and has scored 35 touchdowns in that time period. When healthy, he’s arguably a top five running back in the NFL, and a more complete back than Coleman given his blocking ability. The issue stems from the frightening injury history, however. Head and knee injuries on a running back whose running style is as vicious as Freeman’s doesn’t exactly breed confidence in a team and its fanbase.The two concussions are what frighten me more than anything else. There’s a prevailing notion among many physicians that a three strike rule exists regarding concussions and long-term traumatic effects on a person’s life. Freeman is already on strike two.On the flip side of things, Coleman hasn’t exactly been a picture of perfect health either. Running back is a grueling position to play, and Tevin has suffered his fair share of knocks. He’s missed eight games in his career, including one last year for his own concussion.Remember, Freeman actually took over the starting RB job in 2015 because Coleman had an ankle injury which cost him two games, and then number 24 never relinquished his hold of that starting role.What may make people more comfortable with Coleman’s ailments is the fact that that he doesn’t have any history of knee injuries. His finesse style of running, predicated on speed and elusiveness, also seems like it would translate better into the latter stages of a career. The concussion is once again concerning, but he’s on “strike one” so to speak.Coleman has proven to be a capable starting running back when presented with the opportunity to either start or be given a starter-like workload. The Week 2 game against Carolina was just a taste of that. The Falcons are an impeccable 11-0 in games where Coleman gets at least 14 touches dating back to the 2016 season.Another thing working in Coleman’s favor is the fact that he may be a lot fresher than his counterpart. Devonta Freeman has 826 carries in his career and 1038 total career touches (this includes the playoffs), compared to Tevin Coleman’s 439 career carries and 515 total career touches (playoffs included).While Freeman is only one year older than Coleman Atlanta Falcons T-Shirt , he has twice as much tread on his tires.What’s nextSo where do we go from here? Is there any hope for the Falcons possibly bringing Coleman back or is he destined to hit free agency the way we all expected him to after Freeman signed his extension?Before you suggest it, let me say that the Falcons can’t cut or trade Freeman after this season. They would incur a sizable dead cap hit which doesn’t make that scenario feasible. In reality, Atlanta can’t move on from Freeman until at least the 2020 offseason if they choose to go that route, and they’re doubtful to do so unless injuries continue to take a massive bit out of his production and limit his ability to suit up. If the team has any hopes of keeping Coleman beyond this season, they’ll need his cooperation as much as anything else.For one, they’ll have to pay him starter money because that’s what he’ll most likely demand on the open market. Around $8 million a year seems like a fair figure (that’s close to what Freeman makes). Coleman would have to agree to more of a back-loaded contract where he agrees to less cash in year one of the deal, but maybe more guaranteed money later on.It’s achievable, but only if Coleman is okay with taking a smaller signing bonus than he would get elsewhere in year one and then a roster bonus in year two.If Coleman does agree to that, then another stipulation would be that the Falcons have to trade or cut Freeman in that 2020 offseason, when the potential “out” comes up in his contract. They can keep both in 2019 because Coleman’s deal would be backloaded, but there’s no way to keep both in the long term. With rookie back Ito Smith looking great against the Panthers, it still seems unlikely that the Falcons will commit big money to two backs at the same time. I’d like to get your thoughts on what the Falcons should do. You can vote on which running back you think the Birds should stick with in the long term, below:
  15. Wildfires in California have caused postponements and rescheduling of a number of college football games within the state due to unsafe conditions. So far Black Deion Jones Jersey , three Division I games have either been rescheduled or moved up on Saturday. The most notable game is Stanford at Cal, which has been rescheduled to Dec. 1.The biggest concern is the poor air quality in Berkley, Calif. Here’s more from Stanford’s official release: Because both teams are too far out of reach from the Pac-12 North leaders Washington State and Washington, the rescheduling won’t impact the divisional standings too much. This marks The Big Game’s first postponement in 55 years:Other games in California have been impacted, too. Nevada’s game at San Jose State has been moved up two hours from 2 p.m. to noon PT, andUC Davis’ game at Sacramento State will be played in Nevada’s home stadium at noon PT on Saturday. Cal basketball cancelled its game against Detroit Mercy scheduled for Thursday night because the Air Quality Index was well over 200 Black Grady Jarrett Jersey , considered in the “very unhealthy range” per the EPA. According to the Los Angeles Times, smoke infiltrated Cal’s Haas Pavilion, which led the cancellation. San Francisco also postponed its home game against Arizona State. Earlier in the week, the air quality in California was among the worst in the world. Here’s a look at the conditions as of Friday afternoon: And here’s more Everyone’s first priority is safety, and it’s good to see these schools making that a priority. We’ll update this post with any further information.Falcons vs. Panthers: Who was the offensive player of the game? Unlike last week’s debacle, the Falcons offense gave us a highly encouraging performance with several quality names to list as our offensive player of the game. Here are those names and why you may consider voting for each.Matt RyanRed zone issues? What red zone issues? A week after looking pretty awful Black Logan Paulsen Jersey , the Falcons QB bounced back in impressive fashion, finishing 23/28 for 272 yards, 2 TDs and 2 rushing TDs while improving their red zone performance in dramatic fashion. He was on target on nearly every pass - minus a couple of deep shots - and looked far more comfortable spreading the ball around to multiple targets.Tevin ColemanTevin was the first running back to rush for over 100 yards on the Panthers defense in 22 games. Any concerns about a fall-off by having Devonta Freeman out should be calmed a little, as Coleman showed he’s more than capable of carrying the load while his backfield partner recovers. His 16 carries for 107 yards averaged out to a very impressive 6.7 yards per carry. More of that, please.Calvin RidleyThe rookie first round pick finally showed up and in a big way. He reeled in 4 catches for 64 yards and his first ever NFL touchdown. His speed and route running were on display, as he absolutely embarrassed the Carolina DB on his slant route for his TD pass. If he continues to play like this , it won’t be long before he cracks the 100 yard barrier in a game.Steve SarkisianLet’s give him credit for one of the best games he’s called in his brief NFL career. The Panthers defense looked off-balance for most of the game and his game plan gave Ryan a relatively clean pocket all day long. The run/pass mix was excellent and quite a few plays were well designed and executed to perfection. Let’s hope he continues to build on this performance.Wes SchweitzerOne last name that many probably didn’t think about, but for good reason. Schweitzer had to step in early for an injured Andy Levitre and he was mostly ... invisible. That’s to say, Wes took over for most of the game and did not stand out. This was going against an impressive interior duo of Kawaan Short and Dontari Poe, so it wasn’t like he had a cupcake assignment out there. Kudos to Schweitzer for stepping in and doing his job.Let us know who you think was the offensive player of the game below.