Capitals

Miami waiting to see if Morris can play

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Miami waiting to see if Morris can play

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) Miami is willing to wait and see if Stephen Morris' sprained left ankle improves before the Hurricanes choose a quarterback to start on Saturday night against No. 12 Florida State.

Ryan Williams practiced Tuesday as Miami's presumptive starter, with Preston Dewey as his backup, while Morris spent the day in and out of treatment and unable to do anything on the field. And while plenty of signs point to Williams getting the call in the annual rivalry game with the Seminoles, Miami coach Al Golden said he's still giving Morris a chance.

``We've got a long way to go,'' Golden said. ``I would have to classify him as a game-time (decision) right now. ... So we'll see. Ryan did a great job today, threw the ball well, practiced really well, made all the throws so we're excited about him. We don't have really two separate game plans going in. And if Stephen's healthy, we'll give it a shot.''

Golden said the earliest he expects Morris would have any chance of being on the practice field is Thursday, and if he makes it out there then, he'd likely be limited to 7-on-7 work. Miami is obviously concerned, and obviously doesn't know if Morris will be ready, as proven by Golden sending a 5:30 a.m. text message to ask how his quarterback was feeling.

Small problem: Golden sent that text to the wrong Morris - he sent it to Jim Morris, Miami's longtime baseball coach.

``I'm feeling fine,'' Jim Morris said.

Either way, Florida State is ready for either Williams or Morris. Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said his staff might even study some tape of Williams' games at Memphis in 2010 - he transferred to Miami after that season - even though that wouldn't do them any good as far as breaking down what the Hurricanes might try against them on Saturday night.

``You have to prepare for both,'' Fisher said. ``And when you say prepare for both, though, how drastic are they going to change? I mean, in two or three days of practice, you could change your offense and do some different things, but the foundation is still going to be the same. One's a little more mobile, one's a little bigger and stronger, but they're both very good quarterbacks.''

Fisher's offense has no such who-will-start dilemma.

The Seminoles boast perhaps the ACC's hottest quarterback right now in EJ Manuel, who led Florida State past Miami last season and is coming off a career-best 439-yard, four-touchdown showing last weekend against Boston College.

Going back to last October, Manuel is 13-2 in his last 15 appearances. And he'll be facing a Miami defense that, in only seven games so far this season, has allowed at least 32 points five times and at least 498 yards of offense to opponents four times.

Still, the Miami defense that Manuel sees on film, he said, is fast and athletic.

``Those guys are still smart, I'm sure, too,'' Manuel said. ``So I think we have to go out there and execute. I don't really think it's necessarily about the defense that we're playing against. I think we have to go out there and do what we're supposed to do.''

Morris has thrown for 1,991 yards in seven games this season, including a school- and Atlantic Coast Conference-record 566 against North Carolina State. He's one of the biggest reasons why Miami, a team widely picked to finish near the bottom of the Coastal Division, is in the thick of the league race.

Golden indicated Morris has earned the chance to get back on the field this week.

``We all only get so many shots at this,'' Golden said. ``I'm not going to ask him to sit out the Florida State game or for any game, to be honest with you. If he's ready to go, he's ready to go. If you see him out there, it's because he is ready to go and he can execute in that game. If he's not, then that question is answered.''

For his part, Williams is taking the added responsibility of potentially making his first Miami start in stride, even though it would be on national television against an archrival before what's expected to be a jampacked crowd in Sun Life Stadium.

The way he sees it, games like this are why he came to Miami in the first place.

``The only thing different is getting more reps with the first team now,'' Williams said. ``I'm preparing the same. I do the same amount of film study every week. I've been preparing like I was the starter. I just wasn't with the (first-string) doing the actual reps that Stephen was taking.''

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3 stars of the game: Burakovsky's big night propels Caps to the Stanley Cup Final

3 stars of the game: Burakovsky's big night propels Caps to the Stanley Cup Final

For just the second time in franchise history, the Capitals are Eastern Conference Champions. They will play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup FInal after a dominant 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Alex Ovechkin gave the Capitals the lead just 62 seconds into the game. It was a lead they would never relinquish as Braden Holtby recorded his second consecutive shutout.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final will be Monday in Las Vegas.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Andre Burakovsky: It's been a rough year for Burakovsky, but all that was erased on Wednesday with his brilliant two-goal performance to lead the Caps.

The Caps were clinging to a 1-0 lead in the second period, but the Lightning were buzzing, outshooting the Caps 8-1. They had all the momentum until Burakovsky stole a bouncing puck from Dan Girardi and fired a quick shot far-side for the beautiful goal.

Burakovsky added a second goal later in the second as John Carlson banked a pass off the boards to launch him on a breakaway. Burakovsky coolly shot it through the open five-hole of Vasilevskiy to make it 3-0.

It's incredible to think that Burakovsky had not recorded a point yet this postseason prior to Game 7, was a healthy scratch for Game 5 and was talking about seeing a sports psychologist over the summer after the morning skate for Game 6.

2. Braden Holtby: The goaltending for much of the series was Andrei Vasilevskiy who led Tampa Bay's comeback in the series with his phenomenal netminding. He was outplayed in the most important games by Holtby, however, who recorded shutouts in both Game 6 and Game 7. The last goal the Lightning scored in the series came 33 seconds into the second period of Game 5. That's 139:27 of continuous play and 60 straight saves for Holtby.

Holtby was phenomenal in Game 7 with big save after big save as the Lightning pushed to tie. His biggest save came in the second period when he denied Alex Killorn on the breakaway. The score was just 2-0 at that point.

This marks just the fifth time a goalie has recorded a shutout in Game 6 and Game 7 in a playoff series.

3. Alex Ovechkin: It took Ovechkin just 62 seconds to put the Capitals ahead and it turned out to be the goal that sent Washington to the Stanley Cup Final. How fitting for it to be Ovechkin to score the game-winner?

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Referees miss blatant boarding by Paquette on Orpik

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USA TODAY Sports

Referees miss blatant boarding by Paquette on Orpik

A rough hit to the back of Brooks Orpik left him down on the ice and slow to get up. Cedric Paquette skated back to his bench and waited for the trainer to attend to Orpik and (probably) for the referees to call his number and send him to the box.

The penalty, however, never came.

You always hear in hockey that if you can see a player's numbers, you should pull up on the hit.

What that refers to is the numbers on the back of a player's jersey. You are not allowed to hit a player directly in the back into the boards.

The official definition of boarding according to the NHL rule book is, "any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously." Hitting a player "in the numbers" is a defenseless position.

Apparently Cedric Paquette didn't know that and, unfortunately for the Capitals, neither did the referees.

Someone explain to me how this is not a boarding penalty:

Sometimes referees are put in a tough position because a player turns his back right before they take the hit, thus putting themselves in a vulnerable position to draw a penalty. That was not the case here. Orpik never turned.

When Tom Wilson hit Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese in the second period, the hockey world spent the next day debating whether it was an illegal hit. There is no debate here, no grey area. Just a clear board.

And no call.

You can understand referees wanting to put away the whistles for a Game 7, but you have to call the blatant dangerous plays like this. This was a bad miss by the referees, plain and simple.

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