Capitals

Cook says he wants to win, dodges trade request

Cook says he wants to win, dodges trade request

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee tight end Jared Cook says he's happy with his role in the Tennessee offense and only wants to win because winning is ``huge.''

He just never answered questions Thursday on whether or not he asked to be traded.

Coach Mike Munchak said Monday this is not the time for agents to stir the pot when asked if Cook requested a trade.

Cook spoke Thursday after practice and dodged questions about whether or not his agent asked for the tight end to be traded. Cook says he has to do his job and focus on Chicago (6-1) for Sunday's game. He also said he was upset they lost to the Colts 19-13 in overtime.

``I want to win man,'' Cook said. ``That's the big thing. I want to go to the playoffs for once. I just want to win games.''

The Titans haven't reached the playoffs since 2008, months before they selected the 6-foot-5, 248-pound Cook in the third round of the 2009 draft. Asked if winning matters, Cook said that's what the game is about.

``We're not here to lose,'' Cook said. ``We're here to win as many games as we can to make it to the playoffs and make it the best season we can. Winning is huge ... If we're losing, we'd be nobodies. So if we were winning, we'd be everything. Winning is huge.''

The tight end is in the last year of his contract, and the Titans fell to 3-5 with the loss to the Colts. He was on the field for 25 of the Titans' 59 offensive snaps with three catches for 45 yards in the loss.

He ranks second in the AFC for yards receiving by a tight end since the start of the 2011 season with 1,132 yards on 77 catches, and he is averaging 14.7 yards per catch. But he has been on the field for 48 percent or fewer offensive snaps in four of Tennessee's eight games this season.

Cook said he was happy with his role in the offense, and Munchak said Cook has been good this week.

``Every week there are a lot of plays that he has an opportunity to make, a lot of plays,'' Munchak said. ``This is a game where if they are going to take away the run, him and the other receivers are going to have an opportunity to be a big part of this game. He's been great, he's been good all year, working hard in practice. Everything is real good there.''

Matt Hasselbeck downplayed the report of a trade request Wednesday, saying he made a joke about it. Hasselbeck also said he knows how he and the coaches feel about Cook.

``If anything, I feel like I should throw him the ball more,'' Hasselbeck said. ``I mean he makes plays for us, and I like him a lot. But he's definitely a big part of what we're doing.''

Hasselbeck said teams hit adversity during seasons.

``You pull together and either come together, or you don't,'' Hasselbeck said. ``I feel good about what we've got, especially with him.''

Cook currently is tied for second in receptions with Nate Washington (28), but the tight end has a team-high 443 yards receiving. He has two touchdown catches. Cook joked that he should bribe the quarterback with a Rolex watch since rookie Kendall Wright gave Hasselbeck a pair of Beets headphones earlier this year. Wright has a team-high 40 catches.

``There's so many tools,'' Cook said. ``This is an explosive offensive to be a part of. It's just hard to get the ball around to everybody.''

Cook also said he wants to be with the Titans next season.

``Tennessee is my home, whatever is going on with that just let it happen but we have to finish this season first,'' Cook said. ``We're going to focus on the present . You have to take advantage of the moment you're in.''

Notes: The injury report grew by one to 14 with left guard Steve Hutchinson getting his usual day off Thursday. LT Michael Roos (appendectomy) did more in practice Thursday than Wednesday, though he still was limited. C Fernando Velasco (concussion) was limited after practicing fully Wednesday. RT David Stewart and RG Leroy Harris (right knees) did not practice for a second straight day. S Michael Griffin (hip) was limited a day after practicing fully, and LB Colin McCarthy (right ankle) did not practice. QB Jake Locker (left shoulder) also was limited. CB Tommie Campbell (left ankle) returned to practice for the first time since being hurt Oct. 11.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

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:

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

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. 

What will the X-factors in the series be? Who will be the unexpected heroes of Game 1? The action is almost underway, and here are all the details you need to know.

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 StreamingNBC 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.