From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The NFL presented Jonathan Vilma and his attorney with a sworn statement from former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams saying the linebacker placed a 10,000 bounty on Brett Favre.Vilma met with Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday in New York about his suspension, which has been temporarily lifted. Attorney Peter Ginsberg said they were given an affidavit at the meeting."What Gregg Williams said in his most recent affidavit is the same falsity he has previously provided," Ginsberg said."I don't know what Gregg Williams' motives are, but I do know that any suggestion by Williams that Jonathan put up 10,000 as an incentive for his teammates to injure another player is absolutely false."Vilma tweeted on Monday night that Williams was "bullied to sign the affidavit," saying Williams signed it on Friday.Williams is now with St. Louis, though he has been suspended indefinitely. An associate of his said Williams did not want to talk to the media.Vilma, who denied in court that he offered money in exchange for injuring the former Vikings quarterback, was one of four players suspended by Goodell in the bounty scandal."Today everyone was afforded an opportunity to start over," Vilma said outside the NFL's Park Avenue offices more than three hours after he went in. "It was in our best interest to meet today. We spoke truthfully, honestly, bluntly."An appeals panel earlier this month said Goodell must clarify his rulings to ensure no part of his decisions was based on salary cap violations. That would be the jurisdiction of special master Stephen Burbank.Goodell must show that the basis for the discipline was inappropriate conduct -- such as intent to injure -- rather than any secret monetary compensation. In that case, he has full authority to impose the suspensions.Players and coaches implicated in the bounty pool have testified under oath in a related federal court case they never intended to injure opposing players.New Orleans defensive end Will Smith (four games), Browns linebacker Scott Fujita (three) and free agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove (eight) are expected to have their meeting Tuesday."We appreciate Jonathan Vilma taking the time to meet today and look forward to seeing the other players tomorrow," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.Smith played in each of the Saints' first two games and Vilma is on the physically unable to perform list. Fujita made his season debut in Cleveland's loss to Cincinnati on Sunday. Hargrove was cut by Green Bay during the preseason.Vilma, initially suspended for the entire season, requested a separate meeting. He hasn't played because he is on the physically unable to perform list as he rehabilitates following offseason surgery on his left knee.
The Caps stand just four wins away from winning their first Stanley Cup. To get those four wins, however, they will have to beat the Vegas Golden Knights.
Here are the keys to the series that will give the Caps the win.
Figure out how to beat Marc-Andre Fleury
No player has been as important to his team this postseason as Fleury is to the Golden Knights. He is reason No. 1, 2 and 3 why they have made their improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final in the team’s inaugural season.
Fleury’s personal numbers are staggering. Through 15 games, he has a .947 save percentage and has recorded four shutouts.
Vegas has been a middle of the pack team in terms of offense this postseason scoring 2.87 goals per game. They have lost only three playoff games thus far, but, as dominant as they have been, they certainly are not blowing away the competition. Of their 12 wins, ten of them have come with a margin of victory of two goals or less.
This shows you just how important Fleury is to their success. They are not scoring opponents into submission, rather they are relying on Fleury to keep opponents at bay.
Fleury is the absolute key to the Golden Knights’ success. It’s easier said than done, but if the Caps find a way to beat him consistently, Vegas becomes exponentially more beatable.
Win the neutral zone battle
Much of this series will be determined between the blue lines. The Golden Knights are an incredibly fast team.
Just to get to this point, the Caps had to beat two other speedy teams in the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. They did it primarily by slowing down the offense in the neutral zone with a 1-3-1 trap. With so many bodies defending in the neutral zone, opponents have struggled to break the puck cleanly into the Caps’ defensive zone. The Caps are cutting off passing and skating lanes, creating turnovers and generating odd-man breaks in the other direction by catching opponents’ defensemen playing too aggressively on the rush.
As fast as the Penguins and Lightning were, however, the Golden Knights are even faster. Will the trap be as effective against Vegas?
Limit obstruction penalties
When playing against a team with speed, penalties often become a major issue. When trying to defend against fast players, if you get caught flat-footed or out of position, this tends to lead to obstruction penalties like tripping and hooking. When a player realizes he’s been beat, he does everything he can to prevent that from costing his team, leading to those type of penalties.
Vegas’ power play has not been lights out by any means with a success rate of only 17.6-percent this postseason, but you cannot continually give the opposition chances to score by frequently having a player sent to the penalty box.
Positioning is going to make all the difference in the world in this series to make sure a player is not forced into taking an obstruction penalty just to slow down the Golden Knights.
Get off to good starts
Vegas is 10-1 in the postseason when scoring first. Their secret to success is a mix between goaltending and speed.
Fleury has been phenomenal in net and the Golden Knights are a quick breakout team. It is very hard to get much sustained offensive pressure against them because once they get the puck, they are going down the ice at a million miles an hour.
Having to play from behind against a team like Vegas is not a recipe for success. Just getting the puck and keeping up with them is exhausting. Having to then find a way to then beat Fleury when he has a lead to protect is all the more daunting.
Strong starts will be vital to ensuring the Caps are not frequently having to play from behind.
Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant likes to roll his four lines. It makes sense since there drop-off between his top line and fourth line is not as dramatic as it is on most NHL teams.
Consider how this team was constructed. The expansion draft did not give Vegas access to superstar players, but they also did not have to take any fringe NHL/healthy scratch players to fill the fourth line either. They filled their roster with the best players available to them which gives them four lines of much more comparative strength than most NHL teams.
While this means the Caps have a stronger top six, it also allows Vegas to roll four lines and take advantage of other teams’ bottom six.
You can never take a shift off against Vegas. There is no weak line to exploit. The Golden Knights come at you with four lines and relentless pressure and forecheck for 60 minutes.
Washington will probably get more production from its top six than Vegas will, or at the very least it will be a push. The question is what kind of production will each team get from the bottom six? If the Caps have the edge in depth production as well, they will be in good shape.
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- Ultimate Preview: Everything you need to know
CAPITALS FACEOFF PODCAST:
It's almost here.
After a lengthy break between the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are set to meet on Monday for Game 1.
Who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup?
JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir give their keys to the series and their predictions for the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, JJ speaks with several member from the local media to get their insights and predictions.
Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.