Capitals

LB Matthews, S Woodson among sidelined Packers

201212021525555472743-p2.jpeg

LB Matthews, S Woodson among sidelined Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Mike McCarthy likes the forecast for Sunday night.

``Well, we live in Green Bay, Wisconsin, so snow's going to happen,'' the Packers coach said Friday. ``I hope it does snow. I think it'd be great. It's a great setting. Personally, I think snow's fun to play in, so I think our players will enjoy it.''

The Packers host Detroit on Sunday night and Green Bay will try to stay atop the NFC North without five starters.

The team has ruled out linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring), safety Charles Woodson (collarbone), receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring), running back James Starks (knee) and defensive end C.J. Wilson (knee) against its NFC North rival.

Woodson returned to practice on a limited basis this week after being sidelined since suffering his injury Oct. 21. Matthews, who leads the team with nine sacks, still hasn't been cleared to practice after he reinjured his hamstring Nov. 4.

``We're getting close (with Matthews),'' McCarthy said. ``But I think it's very important for Clay, no different with Charles, that when we do bring those guys back it's not potentially just a one-week situation.''

And in the big picture, the Packers are vying for a second straight division title with a first-place showdown against the Bears looming Dec. 16 in Chicago. Having playmakers such as Matthews and Woodson back for that game would be ideal for Green Bay, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers isn't looking that far ahead.

``I've always felt that when we get them back let's have them because every game is critical for us,'' Capers said. ``There's not one (game) that's more critical than another. The game Sunday night is the most critical game for us. We've got to find some way to go play our best.''

After rallying in the final minutes for a 24-20 victory at Detroit (4-8) three weeks ago, Green Bay (8-4) will try to extend its league-best home winning streak of 21 games over the Lions with a depleted offense as well.

Right tackle T.J. Lang returned to practice Friday in limited fashion after suffering an ankle injury in the Packers' win over Minnesota last Sunday.

Lang is questionable to play against the Lions. But McCarthy indicated after practice Friday that undrafted rookie Don Barclay would make his first pro start at Lang's spot.

``That's the way we've prepared all week,'' McCarthy said.

McCarthy confirmed Alex Green would be the starter at running back after Starks suffered his injury in the last game.

Green, a second-year player, had been splitting carries with Starks the last few games. Before that, Green was the primary back in a three-game stretch after Cedric Benson suffered what turned out to be a season-ending foot injury in early October.

``It's a blessing to get a second chance to make a first impression again. That's rare,'' said Green, who leads the team with 360 rushing yards.

Veteran Ryan Grant also will see action in the backfield after the team re-signed him earlier this week.

If McCarthy gets his wish for a snow game Sunday night, he could be compelled to take a long look at Grant. He ran for Packers postseason records of 201 yards and three touchdowns on a snow-covered Lambeau turf in their rout of Seattle in the 2007 divisional playoffs.

``He plays well in the snow. History would tell you that,'' McCarthy said. ``I'm comfortable with Ryan Grant.''

Notes: Packers DE Mike Neal didn't practice this week and is doubtful for Sunday. But McCarthy said the news on Neal's injured shoulder from the last game was better than what team personnel initially feared. If Lang and Neal aren't cleared, the Packers would be down to six offensive linemen and four defensive linemen healthy enough for the game. Making a roster move this weekend to provide depth at one or both position groups is possible, McCarthy said. . Green is looking forward to potentially playing in snow for the first time. The West Coast native played in college at Hawaii and missed the final two months of his rookie season with the Packers last year because of a knee injury. ``It's one thing I looked forward to when I was being drafted here - we play in the snow,'' said Green, a third-round pick. ``I know that's a big thing around here.''

Quick Links

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

Quick Links

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...

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS: