Capitals

Dodgers busy improving aging stadium before season

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Dodgers busy improving aging stadium before season

LOS ANGELES (AP) Having spent more than $200 million to bulk up their starting pitching this winter, the Los Angeles Dodgers are turning their attention to improving the aging stadium they've played in since 1962.

President and CEO Stan Kasten said Tuesday the goal is to improve the experience for fans while preserving the history of the third-oldest ballpark in the major leagues.

``This is more than a Band-Aid,'' he said. ``I think this will stand up for a very long time.''

Kasten said he planned to talk with Commissioner Bud Selig this week about holding a future All-Star game at the stadium now that it's undergoing one of Hollywood's biggest makeovers. It last hosted the Midsummer Classic in 1980, with new ballparks having long surpassed it in the pecking order.

``That will never be an excuse again,'' Kasten said.

He unveiled the changes for the upcoming season - estimated to cost $100 million - as heavy equipment rumbled around the field.

``We do still think we're going to get done by Opening Day, but it's going to be a scramble,'' Kasten said. ``It might leak into the season.''

Among the upgrades are two high-definition video boards in left and right field that will be 22 percent bigger with the original hexagon shape of both being restored; a new sound system that will be heard on the concourses and in the restrooms; and an improved Wi-Fi and cell antenna system so fans can better use their mobile devices inside the ballpark.

The video boards' viewing area will be 66 percent larger, allowing for more video content and stats to be shown.

``We want to provide fans with the kind of information they're used to seeing at home,'' said Janet Marie Smith, senior vice president of planning and development who was hired by Kasten after they worked together on Turner Field in Atlanta.

``Our first and number one goal was to do things that touch all fans,'' she said.

The changes also include wider concourses; more locations for fans in wheelchairs and their companions; new food stands and menus; and new field level entry plazas and bullpen overlooks to create standing room areas with views of the game.

``You're going to feel like you're in a place that you love,'' Kasten said.

The players haven't been forgotten, either, with major changes to what Kasten described as ``these really awful clubhouse facilities.''

The home clubhouse is being doubled in size, the training and conditioning areas are being expanded, and new batting cages are being installed. The visitors' clubhouse won't be made over, but opposing players will have a weight room and batting cage on their own side for the first time. Previously, visiting teams had to enter the Dodgers' clubhouse to use those areas.

``The players are loving it, and we've involved them every step of the plan,'' Kasten said.

Two to four rows of seats are being removed from the back of the field, loge, reserve and upper reserve levels to create an additional 8 to 15 feet of room for walking the concourses, but it won't change the stadium's capacity of 56,000.

Smith said the Dodgers are going through their historical items and will be putting many on display for the first time, including MVP, Cy Young and Gold Glove awards.

The team's 10 retired numbers will be part of a display at the Top of the Park level behind home plate, while a kids area on the reserve level will include life-sized bobbleheads, and six oversized World Series rings representing each of the Dodgers' championships will be installed on the first base side of the stadium.

The Dodgers had a hot dog taste test on Monday, but Kasten was quick to say they won't be messing around with the famed Dodger Dog.

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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.