Capitals

AP Source: Panthers owner to meet with Rivera

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AP Source: Panthers owner to meet with Rivera

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has scheduled a meeting with Ron Rivera Saturday morning to discuss the coach's future with the team, said a person familiar with the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because the meeting has not been publically announced.

It's uncertain if Richardson will inform Rivera whether he will remain Carolina's coach at the meeting or gather input from Rivera and then make a determination at a later date.

Rivera has two years remaining on a four-year contract.

He's 19-32 in two seasons as the Panthers coach.

Richardson hasn't spoken to the media since firing GM Marty Hurney after Carolina's 1-5 start. Rivera said that's when Richardson informed him the Panthers needed to be ``trending upward'' for him to keep his job.

The Panthers went 6-4 the rest of the way closing the season by winning four straight games, which would seem to bode well for Rivera.

However, Richardson has not said anything definitive on whether or not he'll bring back Rivera, a former Chicago Bears linebacker who won a Super Bowl ring playing alongside Walter Payton.

The Panthers went 6-10 in 2011 and 7-9 this season under Rivera.

Richardson's Panthers have not been to the playoffs since 2008 and have not won a playoff game since 2005.

``What I was told is Mr. Richardson and I will sit down and discuss things and we'll go from there,'' Rivera said at his season-ending press conference Monday. ``I can't tell you anything more than that. I do look forward to the opportunity to meet with him and discuss this.''

The person who spoke with the AP said Richardson has spent the week lining up potential candidates for the team's vacant general manager position and is expected to proceed on a coaching decision without the input of the new GM.

Those interviews with potential GMs are expected to begin next week.

Richardson hired former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi to serve as a consultant for the GM search and the team has already received permission to interview two members of the New York Giants staff - college scouting director Marc Ross and senior pro personnel analyst Dave Gettleman - and others are expected to meet with him as well.

Rivera didn't discuss his future with his players during their brief 10-minute meeting Monday morning at the team's facility.

``He didn't mention it,'' offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner said. ``He just said thanks for the hard work this season and finishing the season on a strong note. That's kind of where it was left.''

Among the Panthers five wins in their final six games included a convincing 30-20 victory over the NFC's top seeded Atlanta Falcons. Carolina's four-game win streak to close the season came despite having five starters and 14 players overall on injured reserve.

``I like where we are and I like the things that we have done,'' Rivera said. ``I believe we are better now than when I first got here. And it's a job that I would like to have.''

Rivera was hired to replace John Fox in 2011 after a coaching search led by Hurney and team president Danny Morrison.

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3 stars of the game: Burakovsky's big night propels Caps to the Stanley Cup Final

3 stars of the game: Burakovsky's big night propels Caps to the Stanley Cup Final

For just the second time in franchise history, the Capitals are Eastern Conference Champions. They will play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup FInal after a dominant 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Alex Ovechkin gave the Capitals the lead just 62 seconds into the game. It was a lead they would never relinquish as Braden Holtby recorded his second consecutive shutout.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final will be Monday in Las Vegas.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Andre Burakovsky: It's been a rough year for Burakovsky, but all that was erased on Wednesday with his brilliant two-goal performance to lead the Caps.

The Caps were clinging to a 1-0 lead in the second period, but the Lightning were buzzing, outshooting the Caps 8-1. They had all the momentum until Burakovsky stole a bouncing puck from Dan Girardi and fired a quick shot far-side for the beautiful goal.

Burakovsky added a second goal later in the second as John Carlson banked a pass off the boards to launch him on a breakaway. Burakovsky coolly shot it through the open five-hole of Vasilevskiy to make it 3-0.

It's incredible to think that Burakovsky had not recorded a point yet this postseason prior to Game 7, was a healthy scratch for Game 5 and was talking about seeing a sports psychologist over the summer after the morning skate for Game 6.

2. Braden Holtby: The goaltending for much of the series was Andrei Vasilevskiy who led Tampa Bay's comeback in the series with his phenomenal netminding. He was outplayed in the most important games by Holtby, however, who recorded shutouts in both Game 6 and Game 7. The last goal the Lightning scored in the series came 33 seconds into the second period of Game 5. That's 139:27 of continuous play and 60 straight saves for Holtby.

Holtby was phenomenal in Game 7 with big save after big save as the Lightning pushed to tie. His biggest save came in the second period when he denied Alex Killorn on the breakaway. The score was just 2-0 at that point.

This marks just the fifth time a goalie has recorded a shutout in Game 6 and Game 7 in a playoff series.

3. Alex Ovechkin: It took Ovechkin just 62 seconds to put the Capitals ahead and it turned out to be the goal that sent Washington to the Stanley Cup Final. How fitting for it to be Ovechkin to score the game-winner?

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Referees miss blatant boarding by Paquette on Orpik

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USA TODAY Sports

Referees miss blatant boarding by Paquette on Orpik

A rough hit to the back of Brooks Orpik left him down on the ice and slow to get up. Cedric Paquette skated back to his bench and waited for the trainer to attend to Orpik and (probably) for the referees to call his number and send him to the box.

The penalty, however, never came.

You always hear in hockey that if you can see a player's numbers, you should pull up on the hit.

What that refers to is the numbers on the back of a player's jersey. You are not allowed to hit a player directly in the back into the boards.

The official definition of boarding according to the NHL rule book is, "any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously." Hitting a player "in the numbers" is a defenseless position.

Apparently Cedric Paquette didn't know that and, unfortunately for the Capitals, neither did the referees.

Someone explain to me how this is not a boarding penalty:

Sometimes referees are put in a tough position because a player turns his back right before they take the hit, thus putting themselves in a vulnerable position to draw a penalty. That was not the case here. Orpik never turned.

When Tom Wilson hit Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese in the second period, the hockey world spent the next day debating whether it was an illegal hit. There is no debate here, no grey area. Just a clear board.

And no call.

You can understand referees wanting to put away the whistles for a Game 7, but you have to call the blatant dangerous plays like this. This was a bad miss by the referees, plain and simple.

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