Capitals

Muschamp suspends Dunker, parts ways with 3 others

Muschamp suspends Dunker, parts ways with 3 others

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jessamen Dunker probably will get another chance to play at Florida.

For three of his teammates, their time with the team is over.

Coach Will Muschamp suspended Dunker on Friday following his arrest for allegedly stealing a scooter. Muschamp made the announcement two days after Dunker was charged with a third-degree felony.

Muschamp suspended Dunker, a redshirt freshman expected to compete for a starting job this spring, from all team activities until ``we get more information.''

``Once we get a little more information, we'll move forward,'' Muschamp said. ``But he's suspended from the team at this time. We'll address that further when I know more.''

Dunker's attorney said Thursday that his client paid $600 for the scooter and had no idea it had been reported stolen. The State Attorney's Office is investigating the case and will decide whether to proceed with the charges.

Dunker likely will end up getting reinstated. That won't happen for defensive end Kendric Johnson, receiver Stephen Alli and offensive lineman Tommy Jordan. Muschamp is parting ways with all three of them.

Johnson and Alli, both fourth-year juniors, are scheduled to graduate this spring and will no longer be on scholarship. Jordan, meanwhile, is applying for medical exemption because of a shoulder injury.

``We appreciate those guys' contributions,'' Muschamp said.

Getting rid of them frees up more scholarships heading into the final few weeks of recruiting.

Two starting offensive linemen, guard Jon Halapio and right tackle Chaz Green, had surgery. So did linebacker Neiron Ball and punt Kyle Christy.

Halapio had arthroscopic knee surgery. Green and Ball had arthroscopic ankle surgery. And Christy had shoulder surgery.

``All of those guys will be able to take part in spring,'' Muschamp said. ``I just don't know how much at this point.''

Muschamp also addressed several recent departures.

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn left Florida on Thursday to take the same position with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

``That's probably the only job he would have left here for because of his relationship with John Snyder, the general manger at Seattle, and his relationship with (coach) Pete Carroll,'' said Muschamp, who promoted linebacker coach D.J. Durkin to coordinator.

Four juniors also made the move to the next level.

Safety Matt Elam, defensive Sharrif Floyd, Linebacker Jelani Jenkins and tight end Jordan Reed all declared for the draft shortly after Florida's 33-23 loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.

``At the end of the day, this is a family decision and it's a personal decision,'' Muschamp said. ``It's not mine or the University of Florida's, and we support them 100 percent. No one understands the situations these guys are in and the circumstances in which they are basing their decisions on. ... Our doors are always open for those guys.''

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Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

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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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