Capitals

NFL Playoffs Capsule: Packers at 49ers

NFL Playoffs Capsule: Packers at 49ers

GREEN BAY (12-5) At SAN FRANCISCO (11-4-1)

Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE - 49ers by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Green Bay 10-7, San Francisco 9-7

SERIES RECORD - Packers lead 34-27-1

AP Pro32 RANKING - Packers, No. 6; 49ers, No. 3

LAST MEETING - 49ers beat Packers, 30-22, Sept. 9

LAST WEEK - Packers beat Vikings 24-10; 49ers had bye.

PACKERS OFFENSE - OVERALL (13), RUSH (20), PASS (9)

PACKERS DEFENSE - OVERALL (11), RUSH (17), PASS (11)

49ERS OFFENSE - OVERALL (11), RUSH (4), PASS (23)

49ERS DEFENSE - OVERALL (3), RUSH (4), PASS (4)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Green Bay ranks No. 3 in league history with 30 postseason wins, while San Francisco ranks No. 4 with 26 playoff victories. ... Teams last played in divisional playoffs in 1996, with Green Bay winning 35-14. ... Packers have won four of five previous meetings against 49ers in playoffs, including two of three at Candlestick Park. Overall, Green Bay has won 13 of its last 15 games against 49ers, but dropped season opener at Lambeau Field 30-22. ... Franchises last met in postseason in wild-card game after 2001 season at Lambeau Field, 25-15 Green Bay win. ... Playoff meeting in the 2001 season was last time teams played where each had 11-plus wins - both with 12-4 records. ...Teams played each postseason from 1995-98. ... This marks sixth time these teams meet in postseason, tied for second most by Packers against one opponent and behind seven playoff matchups with Giants. ... Green Bay owns three-game road playoff winning streak dating to 2010 title run and is 3-1 on road in playoffs under coach Mike McCarthy. ... Packers are only NFC team to reach divisional playoffs each of last three years. ... Green Bay gave up 10 points to Vikings in wild-card game for fewest allowed in playoff game since 10 at San Francisco on Jan. 11, 1998. ... Packers QB and Northern California native Aaron Rodgers passed on by 49ers with No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005 as Alex Smith went first and Rodgers fell to 24. ... Rodgers has 110-plus passer rating in four of his seven career postseason starts. That's tied for fourth in league history behind Joe Montana (six in 23 starts), Brett Favre (five in 24 starts) and Tom Brady (five in 22 starts). ... Rodgers hasn't thrown interception in five straight games, 177 passes. ... Green Bay WR Greg Jennings has 19 receptions for 226 yards and three TDs over last three games. ... Packers have five turnovers in last six games. Meanwhile, they have held opponents to 20 or fewer points in nine of last 11. ... Packers went 4-4 away from home this season. ... 49ers 12-3 at home in divisional playoff games. ... 49ers didn't have three-game winning streak all season. ... San Francisco defense allowed only 36 drives to reach red zone all year, tops in NFL. ... 49ers TE Vernon Davis, having quiet year, has 16 catches for 351 yards and 4 TDs in four career games vs. Green Bay, including one touchdown in each game. ... San Francisco RB Frank Gore ran for 112 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown in season opener at Lambeau. Gore also had 130 yards on 18 carries and a TD against Packers on Dec. 10, 2006. ... WR Randy Moss' 14 touchdowns receiving against Green Bay are most by any player in NFL history vs. Packers. His 1,320 yards receiving against Packers rank No. 2 in league history. ... WR Michael Crabtree's first career touchdown catch came at Green Bay on Nov. 22, 2009 (38-yarder from Alex Smith). ... 49ers LB Aldon Smith went final three games without sack to finish with 19 1/2 and three shy of Michael Strahan's single-season record set in 2001 with Giants. ... DE/DT Justin Smith expected to play after he missed final two games with partially torn left triceps muscle. ... 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick makes first playoff start. ... San Francisco will use struggling veteran PK David Akers over newcomer Billy Cundiff. While Akers has been inconsistent making just 29 of 42 field goals, Cundiff missed potential tying 32-yarder that might have cost Harbaugh's big brother John's Baltimore Ravens trip to last season's Super Bowl in loss to New England for AFC championship.

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4 keys for the Caps to win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final

4 keys for the Caps to win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final

It all starts Monday!

The Vegas Golden Knights will host the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final as both teams look to take early control of the series.

Can the Caps steal one on the road to start? Here are four keys to winning Game 1.

Win the first period

The Golden Knights have not played a game since May 20. While rest can benefit a team at this time of the year, there is such a thing as too much rest and over a week would certainly qualify. If there is absolutely any rust in Vegas’ game to start, the Caps need to take advantage.

T-Mobile Arena and the Vegas crowd have already built a reputation in year one. The atmosphere is going to be electric, but the Caps can combat that with a good start to the game and by scoring first.

Vegas is 10-1 when scoring first this postseason. If they are able to come in and get on the board right off the bat in the first period after seven full days between games, that does not bode well for the Caps’ chances.

Don’t allow Marc-Andre Fleury to pick up where he left off

Fleury is having a postseason for the ages, but it’s hard to believe momentum is simply going to carry over to a new series after such a lengthy break. Players are not simply going to pick up where they left off and play as if there’s no rust to shake off. The need to get to Fleury as early as possible.

What that means is getting traffic in front of the net, making him move, contesting rebounds, making him feel uncomfortable as much as possible and generating quality offensive chances.

The Caps can do is starting flinging pucks at the net and giving him easy saves. Getting 12 shots in the first period would be great, but not if they are all perimeter shots for easy saves that help bring Fleury's confidence back to where it was in the Western Conference Final.

Limit the turnovers

Turnovers are blood in the water for Vegas. The high-effort, high-speed style of play of the Golden Knights has caught several players off guard at points this postseason. No one can afford to be casual with the puck at any point in this game because Vegas has a knack for turning those turnovers into goals.

Winning Game 1 on the road will be hard enough without giving the Golden Knights at any help.

Shut down the top line

Only three players have reached double digits in points for the Golden Knights in the playoffs: Jonathan Marchessault (18), Reilly Smith (16) and William Karlsson (13). What do these three have in common? They all play on Vegas’ top line. To compare, the Caps have seven players in double digits.

Much has been made of Vegas’ offensive depth and their ability to roll four lines, but the play of Fleury in net has really masked how much this team relies on its top line for offense. The Caps need to get Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the ice against them and focus on shutting them down. Force the Golden Knights to win with their other three lines and see if they can.

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MacLellan on facing McPhee in Stanley Cup Final: 'It's a little awkward'

MacLellan on facing McPhee in Stanley Cup Final: 'It's a little awkward'

LAS VEGAS—One of the more intriguing storylines of this year’s Stanley Cup Final centers on a couple of men who make their living behind the scenes: Brian MacLellan of the Caps and his counterpart with the Golden Knights, George McPhee.

They’ve known each other for 40-plus years, dating back to their time as bantam teammates in Canada. And, starting Monday, they’ll be on opposing sides, with hockey’s Holy Grail at stake.  

Caps fans, of course, are familiar with McPhee’s work. He served as GM in Washington from 1997-2014 and drafted 13 players who are currently on the Caps’ roster. McPhee was also the Caps’ rookie GM the last time the franchise appeared in the Final 20 years ago.

But here’s what Caps fans might not know about the connection that MacLellan and McPhee share:

  • They were born in a few months apart in 1958 in Ontario.
  • They captured the Canadian Jr. A championship as members of the 1977-78 Guelph Platers.
  • Both were on scholarship at Bowling Green from 1978-1982.
  • They played together with the New York Rangers in 1985-86.
  • And, finally, they worked side-by-side in Washington from 2000-2014. After working his way up from the scouting ranks, MacLellan replaced his managerial mentor, who had been let go following a disappointing season.

 

“It's kind of a weird experience,” MacLellan said. “We kind of have been texting back and forth how strange it feels to have this line up the way it has. It's a little awkward, but it's going to be a fun experience, I hope.”

At one point, MacLellan got choked up when talking about his relationship with McPhee, who’ll become the first GM in the expansion era to face a former team of which he served as GM.

“We played junior together and then we both went to Bowling Green on scholarships, so we lived together,” he said, fighting back tears. “It was fun.”

MacLellan also acknowledged that the two weren’t as tight—for a time, at least—after he replaced McPhee four years ago. McPhee also hinted at some strain, though he said the two men had dinner at the most recent GM’s meetings.

“Not as close, I don't think,” MacLellan said of his relationship with McPhee following McPhee’s dismissal. “A little bit of communication here and there. But I think it just took a little time for things to evolve. I think he needed a break from the game, needed a break from how it went down for him here and it just took time.”

When the two negotiated during last year’s expansion draft, which saw McPhee pluck promising you blueliner Nate Schmidt from Washington’s roster, MacLellan said the two old friends keep things “businesslike.”

“He was all business,” MacLellan said. “He wasn’t giving in on anything.”

Although McPhee drafted most of the core players who delivered the Caps to this year’s Final, MacLellan also deserves credit for getting this team over the second round hump. Among his first acquisitions were defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, a pair of vets that helped shore up a shaky defense. MacLellan also added forwards T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller via trade in recent seasons and, this year, added defenseman Michal Kempny, a particularly shrewd move that bolstered a blue line that needed a little tightening.

As weird as the next few days will be for MacLellan as he faces his old friend, it figures to even more strange for McPhee, who will look down from the GM’s suite on Monday and see not one, but two teams that he built on the ice. McPhee also pilfered a handful of current and former front office employees from Caps, including Goalie Coach Dave Prior, while building the Golden Knights.

Indeed, the history between MacLellan and McPhee runs deep. But for the next couple of weeks, they’ll put aside their decades-old friendship as their clubs battle for the NHL’s ultimate prize.
 

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