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Nets opener postponed by Sandy; NYC Marathon on

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Nets opener postponed by Sandy; NYC Marathon on

The Nets' regular-season debut in Brooklyn will have to wait. The New York City Marathon, however, is good to go.

With mass transportation still crippled in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked the NBA to postpone Thursday's highly anticipated opener between the Knicks and Nets at the Barclays Center, and the league agreed.

``It's a great stadium, it would have been a great game, but the bottom line is: There is not a lot of mass transit. Our police have plenty of other things to do,'' Bloomberg said at a news conference Wednesday.

The Barclays Center sits above the Atlantic Avenue subway station complex which hosts nine subway lines and a Long Island Rail Road station, and was expanded as part of the $1 billion arena's construction.

The Nets believe that will be a major selling point in drawing fans to the games after they were plagued by poor attendance during their years in New Jersey.

But without knowing what - if any - subways would be available and with city officials still preferring people not drive into New York, the Nets agreed with the decision.

``We're disappointed that we can't play, but there's a lot more important things going on right now, a lot of people displaced from their homes, a lot of people lost loved ones. So in the grand scheme of things, a basketball game really doesn't mean much right now,'' Nets point guard Deron Williams told reporters after practice.

``I think it'd be hard for a lot of people to even get to the game in the first place, with public transportation being shut down. I guess it makes sense to not have the game.''

The Knicks are now scheduled to open their season at home Friday night against the Miami Heat. The Nets are scheduled to host Toronto on Saturday night.

Bloomberg said the city will work with the league to provide extra buses to Saturday's game in case the subways are not yet operational. Brett Yormark, the Nets' CEO, said in a statement that there would be food and beverage specials starting at 5:30 p.m.

Basketball will wait, but the mayor said the marathon will go on as planned Sunday.

Marathon organizers had been moving forward with planning but awaited final word from the city about whether holding the race would be safe and viable with flooding, power outages and transit shutdowns still afflicting the five boroughs.

New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said Wednesday that organizers were preparing to use more private contractors than past years to reduce the strain on city services. Wittenberg insists the race can be an inspiration to New Yorkers and benefit businesses that have lost money because of the storm.

The MLS announced that it has switched its schedule for the playoff series between the D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. United will now host the first leg on Saturday night, and the Red Bulls, who play in Harrison, N.J., will host the return leg of the two-game, total-goal series on Wednesday.

The Central Connecticut-Monmouth football game scheduled for Saturday in West Long Branch, N.J., has also been postponed. School officials said they are discussing the possibility of a makeup date, but neither team has an open date for the rest of the regular season.

The New York Giants are preparing to play the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday.

The superstorm devastated areas of New York City and New Jersey and a number of Giants were among the residents who have lost power.

Receiver Victor Cruz is one of the lucky ones. He got power back after losing it for a couple of hours on Monday. Guard Kevin Boothe never lost power so he hosted tight end Martellus Bennett and his wife on Tuesday.

Coach Tom Coughlin believes he never lost his electricity, but said he hasn't been home much since the team returned from Dallas early Monday following a win over the Cowboys. Coughlin has been busy working on preparations for Pittsburgh.

Sandy struck Monday evening and left a wake of destruction not seen in decades or ever.

``It's definitely shocking,'' said Cruz, who grew up 20 minutes from MetLife Stadium. ``I mean, you've seen it with a couple of hurricanes in the past, when I was younger. I used to see all of that stuff. It never directly affected me. The past couple of years, a couple of hurricanes when you see things, when you see a couple having to evacuate their home and stuff, it definitely hits close to home a little bit.''

This storm destroyed towns and beaches, swamped cars, knocked down trees and left more than a million people without power.

``Just some terrible stories, and obviously you send out prayers to those families and those people who are still going through terrible situations right now,'' said quarterback Eli Manning, who moved out of his Hoboken home and into a hotel after the power went out. ``So I guess I feel fortunate that we can come in and come to work and be with our friends and teammates here. My family is safe, so I feel fortunate that we're here today.''

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Want the Stanley Cup? Five ways the Caps can beat the Golden Knights

Want the Stanley Cup? Five ways the Caps can beat the Golden Knights

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.

Depth scoring

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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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

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.