Sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the Washington Mystics appear to be reaching their wits' end. Frustration is surely taking a toll on the WNBA-worst Tulsa Shock as well. The Mystics try for their first road win of the year and a sweep of the Shock on Sunday. Five days after snapping a season-high five-game losing streak with a 90-77 win over Phoenix, Washington (3-11) saw its struggles resume in a 78-73 defeat to San Antonio on Friday. Monique Currie had a team-high 15 points while Crystal Langhorne scored 13, but the Mystics were done in by the Silver Stars' 17-4 run in the third quarter. "It's very frustrating. I'm not used to losing," said veteran center Michelle Snow, who signed with Washington during the offseason. "You just want to scream, you want to blow up, you want to fight, whatever it takes to wake everybody up. Honestly, a change is going to come. You can be part of that change here or you'll just be part of that rotation (leaving town). That's the way any job is." While the Mystics' 3-6 home record leaves much to be desired, it looks good compared to their road efforts. Washington is 0-5 away from home and has lost 14 straight there overall. A matchup with Tulsa (2-13) could be just what the Mystics need to put those woes behind them. The Shock have dropped seven of nine on their own court, giving them the worst home mark in the league. Tulsa is coming off back-to-back double-digit losses at Bank of Oklahoma Center, falling 86-75 to Connecticut on Friday in its most recent game. Shooting a league-low 38.8 percent from the floor, the Shock were limited to 21.1 percent and outscored 25-10 in the first quarter. "That really was the difference, the slow start," coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "We're just not good enough to have lapses like that." Averaging a team-high 14.1 points, Ivory Latta was the lone bright spot for Tulsa, scoring 24 and going 9 of 14 from the floor. Latta had 16 points but was the only Shock player to score in double figures in a 64-61 loss at Washington on May 26 - Tulsa's sixth defeat in eight meetings in the series. Though the Mystics have dominated the Shock of late, they were handed a 77-59 defeat in their last visit to Tulsa on June 18, 2011. Latta scored 22 points and helped limit Washington to 33.8 percent shooting.
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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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.
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?
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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