Capitals

Kaeding finished with Bolts, who sign Alexander

Kaeding finished with Bolts, who sign Alexander

SAN DIEGO (AP) Nate Kaeding showed up for work Monday intending to start preparing for San Diego's game at Cleveland on Sunday.

Instead, he found out that his Chargers career was effectively over.

Kaeding, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, was placed on injured reserve Monday and will be released when he's healthy.

Kaeding kicked in the first three games before injuring his groin on Sept. 28, two days before a game at Kansas City. That forced the Chargers to sign Nick Novak and they had carried both kickers on the active roster since then.

``I had hoped to get back on the field this week or next and was on pace to do it,'' Kaeding told The Associated Press. ``I was surprised that was their decision, but I don't take part in any of those conversations. It's certainly disappointing. It's not the ending I had envisioned for myself here. But I'm going to take this week to get healthy and throw my name in the hat for employment elsewhere.''

Kaeding, in his ninth NFL season, said he'll work out with former Chargers kicker John Carney, who lives in northern San Diego County.

Novak was signed by the Chargers last year after Kaeding blew out his left knee trying to make a tackle on the season-opening kickoff.

``Coming off that ACL debacle, it definitely makes you appreciate taking it one year at a time,'' Kaeding said. ``I came back and honestly, in the spring and summer, felt like I was as healthy and strong as I've ever been. I had as much range and distance, if not more, on kickoffs.''

Kaeding has made 180 of 207 field goal attempts in the regular season, or 87 percent.

However, he's best known in San Diego for missing three field goals in a 17-14 home playoff loss to the New York Jets in January 2010, San Diego's last postseason appearance. He also was wide right on a 40-yard attempt in overtime that would have beaten the Jets in a playoff game following the 2004 season. The Jets moved down the field and won it 20-17 on Doug Brien's 27-yarder.

Kaeding was just 8 of 15 (53.3 percent) in eight playoff games.

``I always prided myself on working deliberately and purposely on my craft,'' Kaeding said. ``I felt I made a lot of improvement, outside of a couple of lousy kicks in the playoffs. There are some performances I'd like to have back, but I'm pretty proud of what I was able to do. I'm more proud of the way I conducted myself and the work I put into it.''

Kaeding's roster spot went to wide receiver Danario Alexander, who signed a one-year deal.

``We had to make a decision,'' coach Norv Turner said. ``We were going a man short and we had the chance to add a receiver. Nate is going to continue his rehab. He's been a great player for us. I think the world of Nate. It is a difficult decision but it's just something we had to do at this point.''

Kaeding made all seven field goal attempts this season.

Novak has missed once in six tries.

``I just want to acknowledge how well Nate did,'' Novak said. ``He worked his tail off to get back and had a great training camp. It was unfortunate his groin got a little beat up this year. For me, I've been here four weeks now. I didn't know how long I was going to be here, but I approached every week like I was the guy. I feel bad for Nate.''

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Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

las_vegas-sign-no_caps-stanley_cup_final.jpg
Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights have met only twice in their history. Neither team was expected to get to this point so you can go ahead and throw away the stats, the matchups, the data and the history. A new story will be written in the Stanley Cup FInal.

Who will ultimately win the Cup? Here are four factors that could ultaimtely swing the series.

1. Goaltending

The Caps have faced elimination only twice in the playoffs and Braden Holtby did not allow a single goal in either game. He enters the Stanley Cup Final having not allowed a single goal in 159:27. Andrei Vasilevskiy began to take over the series with his performance in Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5, but Holtby outplayed him to finish off the series in Washington’s favor.

Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, has been the best player in the playoffs. Not the best goalie, the best player.

Through 15 games, Fleury has a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. As good as Vegas has been this postseason, Fleury has stolen several games for the Golden Knights.

Both of these goalies are certainly capable of stealing away a series for their respective teams. Which one will outplay the other?

2. Time off

Rust is a real thing in hockey. Just any team when they come off a bye week. When the Caps and Golden Knights take the ice on Monday, May 28, it will be the first game for Vegas since May 20. That’s over a week off.

Yes, getting rest at this time of the year is important, but too much rest leads to rust and that should be a major concern for Vegas, especially for a team that was playing so well and has so much momentum.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Caps stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning both Game 1 and Game 2 in Tampa. Could they do it again with a rusty Vegas team? Will the long layoff cost the Golden Knights one or even two home games to start the series?

3. The McPhee factor

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was the Caps’ general manager for 17 years starting with the 1997-98 season. He was fired in 2014, but was ultimately responsible for building the core of the Washington team that is now headed to the Stanley Cup Final.

But that also means he knows those players very, very well.

Nicklas Backstrom, Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and of course, Alex Ovechkin were all drafted by McPhee. Jay Beagle was also signed by as an undrafted free agent.

A general manager does not sign or draft anyone without knowing a good deal about the kind of player they are. Does that give McPhee a bit of an edge when it comes to facing the Caps?

4. Speed

The Golden Knights are fast. When the expansion draft was all said and done it was clear McPhee had targeted two things specifically: defensemen and speed. The result is an exceptionally fast Golden Knights team that no one has been able to keep up with so far.

Vegas' speed mixed with the goaltending of Fleury has proven to be a lethal combination. Their mobility makes it hard to get the puck from them or even keep it in the offensive zone. Once they get it, it’s going down the ice very quickly and you better keep up with them or it's going to end up in the back of the net. Once they build a lead, it is very difficult for teams to dig their way out as evidenced by their 10-1 record this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were both fast teams as well and the Capitals were able to combat that with strong play in the neutral zone. The 1-3-1 trap has given opponents fits and generated a lot of odd-man breaks for the Caps. Will it be as effective against a speedy Vegas team?

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