From Comcast SportsNetSEATTLE (AP) -- Boston manager Bobby Valentine insisted he wasn't serious Wednesday when he threatened to punch a talk-show host in the mouth.Hours later, his Red Sox put up little fight at the plate.Valentine said he made it clear he was kidding when he made the comment during an interview on Boston radio station WEEI with hosts Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley."Didn't I go, Ha, ha?'" the embattled Valentine asked before his fourth-place team lost 2-1 to the Seattle Mariners. "I don't think physical violence is necessary for 60-year-old people."Ordway, sighting a newspaper report that Valentine arrived later than normal for a game last week in Oakland, asked if the manager had "checked out" on the season.Valentine responded on the air:"What an embarrassing thing to say. If I were there right now, I'd punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha," he said. "How's that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing. Why would somebody even, that's stuff that a comic strip person would write. If someone's here, watching me go out at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, working with the young players, watching me put in the right relief pitchers to get a win, putting on a hit-and-run when it was necessary, talking to the guys after the game in the food room -- how could someone in real life say that?"Meeting later with reporters in Seattle before the game, Valentine acknowledged he took offense to Ordway's question and explained that he arrived at the Coliseum in Oakland later than usual -- but still 3 hours before the game -- because he had picked up his son from the airport and got stuck in traffic."If anyone in this room or any other room I've been in in my life wants to question my integrity, I will ask someone to referee that situation," he said.Valentine added that if a writer "thought that was important and wanted to write seriously about it, they could have asked what the situation was and I would have been happy to tell them. No one asked the reasons."He went on to describe them.Valentine said he picked up his son from the San Francisco airport in the morning for his first visit on the road during "this lousy season." The plane was late, then he had to return to his San Francisco hotel to pick up his game information before driving over the Bay Bridge to the Coliseum."That was a mistake," Valentine said. "There was traffic around the hotel and an accident on the freeway. I got there a little later than normal, not late. My workday starts at 4:30 p.m., in my opinion. I got to the stadium at 4:04 p.m."He said he had called in that night's lineup at 2 p.m. and had checked with the trainer on the condition of injured players."To see my son for a couple more hours," he said, "is more than worth the trade-off of sitting around in my underwear in the clubhouse for two hours."Just ask me the question. Don't think everyone in the room is smart enough to figure out what I meant. That's not my fault."Valentine said he told his coaches he would be a little late, and he called in to say he was delayed in traffic on his way to "the stupid Oakland Coliseum.""For someone to say that I was late is an absolute disgrace to their integrity if they have any," he said.During the radio interview, Valentine went on to say that his first season as Red Sox manager has been "miserable."Asked to clarify later, he said: "The last two weeks have been very trying. Lots of obstacles in my way and I thought I've jumped them, and sometimes you get knocked down by them."It's turned out to be not what I expected. It's been a little misery, yeah," he said. "I'm not sure it's 247, but I would think after a loss I'm miserable. ... It's been adventurous, challenging."Valentine signed a two-year deal last winter and has said he wants to return in 2013. Red Sox management has maintained that no decision will be made until after the season is over.The last few weeks have not gone well. Boston went 1-8 on a brutal road trip for the club's worst West Coast swing since a 1-8 debacle in September 1989."This was not a good road trip, obviously," Valentine said. "One of the worst I've ever experienced."The Red Sox are 10-24 since Aug. 1."I'd like us to play together and show that we've got a lot of pride," Valentine said. "I think we do and I think we'll grind it out, be a spoiler along the way. That would be fun, too."
It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.
Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?
Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:
1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.
Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.
2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.
There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.
Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.
3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.
The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.
4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.
Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.
Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.
5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.
Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?
MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:
The wait is finally over.
After two decades, the Capitals are back in the Stanley Cup Final.
After a convincing 4-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Capitals are in Vegas to take on the Golden Knights. They'll be facing off against a handful of familiar names, with former Caps GM George McPhee, fan favorite Nate Schmidt, and ex-Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fluery are just a few of the names that'll be suiting up for Vegas.
Game 1 Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Monday, May 28
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV.
TV Channel: NBCSN
How To Watch Live Streaming: NBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 FM)
WHEN IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES?
Game 1 of the Capitals-Golden Knights 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final takes place on Monday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.
WHAT TV CHANNEL IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES ON?
The TV broadcast of Game 1 between the Capitals and Golden Knights is on NBC. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)
5:00 p.m. — Caps Cup Preview
6:00 p.m. — Caps GameDay Live
6:30 p.m. — Caps Face Off
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Game 1 Capitals vs. Golden Knights
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
WHERE CAN I STREAM CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1?
Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights is available for online stream on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the NBC Sports live stream page.
CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1 OPEN THREAD
Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans.
For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals digital producer JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.