Capitals

NFL Capsule: Panthers at Chargers

NFL Capsule: Panthers at Chargers

CAROLINA (4-9) At SAN DIEGO (5-8)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., FOX

OPENING LINE - Chargers by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Carolina 6-7; San Diego 6-7

SERIES RECORD - Panthers lead 3-1

AP PRO32 RANKING - Chargers No. 21; Panthers No. 25

LAST MEETING - Panthers beat Chargers 26-24, Sept. 7, 2008

LAST WEEK - Panthers beat Falcons 30-20; Chargers beat Steelers 34-24

PANTHERS OFFENSE - OVERALL (16), RUSH (11T), PASS (17)

PANTHERS DEFENSE - OVERALL (15), RUSH (21), PASS (12)

CHARGERS OFFENSE - OVERALL (27), RUSH (27), PASS (19)

CHARGERS DEFENSE - OVERALL (9), RUSH (4), PASS (22)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Second-year Carolina coach Ron Rivera faces former employer. Was inside linebackers coach from 2007 until being promoted to defensive coordinator after Ted Cottrell fired following eighth game of 2008 season. ... Scott Turner, son of Chargers coach Norv Turner, is Carolina's offensive quality control coach. ... Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski followed Rivera from San Diego to Carolina; was Chargers' tight ends coach from 2005-06, 2009-10. ... Teams ``switched'' defensive backs coaches before season, with Steven Wilks going from Chargers to Panthers and Ron Meeks from Panthers to Chargers. ... Former Chargers assistant GM Marty Hurney fired as Carolina's GM after 1-5 start. ... Norv Turner 112-121-1 overall in head coaching stints with Washington, Oakland, San Diego. ... Panthers looking for first back-to-back wins since last December. ... Panthers LB Luke Kuechly making strong push for defensive rookie of year by leading NFL with 131 tackles. ... Panthers held Falcons to 35 yards rushing. ... Panthers QB Cam Newton coming off huge game vs. Falcons, completing 23 of 35 passes for 287 yards with two touchdowns; ran for 116 yards. Completed 72-yard scoring run with somersault into end zone before getting to feet, pretending to rip open shirt like Superman. ... By comparison, Chargers RB Ryan Mathews has no 100-yard games this season. His best was 95 yards in loss at Cleveland. ... Newton leads Panthers with 640 yards rushing; Mathews leads Chargers with 685 yards. ... Newton became first in NFL history with 250-plus yards passing, 100-plus yards rushing, a passing TD and a rushing TD in game. ... Dante Rosario, now backup TE for Chargers, caught game-winning, 14-yard TD pass from Jake Delhomme as time expired to lift Panthers to win at San Diego in 2008 season-opener. Rosario has five receptions since three-TD performance in win vs. Tennessee Sept. 16. ... Chargers TE Antonio Gates hasn't caught TD pass in four games, leaving him one shy of matching Lance Alworth's team record 81. ... Chargers WR Robert Meachem, signed as free agent to help replace Vincent Jackson, hasn't been thrown a pass in three straight games. Meachem fell out of favor after dropping potential TD pass in 7-6 loss at Cleveland on Oct. 28. ... Chargers expecting third straight TV blackout in Southern California and fourth this season.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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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...

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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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