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Rams focus on Bills and not slim playoff hopes

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Rams focus on Bills and not slim playoff hopes

ST. LOUIS (AP) The word ``playoffs'' isn't being mentioned often around the St. Louis Rams' training facility unless asked by an outsider.

``This team is focused on Buffalo. It's our next opponent,'' coach Jeff Fisher said Monday at his weekly media gathering at Rams Park. ``There's too much that could happen right now. I don't even know what the record is of some teams in the division. So, we just go play.''

The Rams have made themselves into a playoff contender - albeit an outside one - with two consecutive divisional victories. Their 16-13 overtime win against San Francisco on Sunday comes a week after winning at Arizona and leaves them as the only NFC West squad undefeated against division opponents with one game to go.

St. Louis (5-6-1, 4-0-1) would need to leapfrog four teams to make the postseason, including the Seattle Seahawks, who host the Rams the final weekend of the regular season. This newfound hope of extending the season comes on the heels of a five-game stretch during which St. Louis went 0-4-1 and fell to 3-6-1.

``Regardless of whether we've won or lost the week before, our focus has gone on to the next week and that's exactly what we're going to continue to do,'' said quarterback Sam Bradford, who completed 26 of 39 passes for 221 yards against San Francisco. ``Our focus now is going to Buffalo and getting another win.''

Fisher said that despite the positive results the past two weeks it matters little if his team doesn't get a victory at Buffalo. The Rams have won just one road game and they followed up a 24-24 tie at San Francisco with a lackluster 27-13 home loss to the New York Jets.

The lack of consistency is one reason the Rams aren't talking about making the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

It's been a long road since. They went 29-83 without a winning season from 2005-2011, with their best finish coming in 2006 at 8-8 when the won their final three games. A victory Sunday will give St. Louis a non-losing record this late in the regular season for the first time since then.

``It feels pretty good,'' running back Steven Jackson said. ``We have a lot of room to grow, but the one thing about this team that we learned about the personality of it that guys are going to continue to fight. Guys are going to continue to bring their `A' game despite what it looks like, despite what people may think. This group of men believe that we can compete at a high level.''

Fisher said he likes the growth of his young team, but would like to see more from his offense in the final three games of the season.

The offense has struggled scoring this season and the Rams needed two defensive scores - a fumble returned for a touchdown and a safety - and two field goals from beyond 50 yards to get past the 49ers. Fisher gave credit to San Francisco's defense, ranked second in the NFL for total defense. He also readily offered up the need for the offense to provide some breathing room for the defense.

``We'd like to think we'd end up with balance in the game. We'll score points and play good defense. That was a situation (Sunday) where we found a way to win a game against a good team under difficult circumstances,'' he said. ``But offensively, we need to pick things up here. We made plays in the passing game. Sam played very well against a difficult defense but we need more balance and more chunks and more scoring.''

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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”

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A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

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Daniel Duffy on Twitter/@RealArtOfWords

A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

How do you make a photo of Alex Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time even more memorable?

You make it out of all the Capitals' game scores this year, of course.

Capitals fan and artist Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) posted a phenomenal finished piece commemorating the Cup win on Wednesday, June 20. It's a little meta and astounding to look at, but very fun to try and read. If you want to relive the glory that was the parts of the 2017-18 Capitals season, check out the piece.

The piece, which appears to be done in a traditional medium like pen or marker, holds the team faced, arena played at, and final score of every game. It uses six colors and over sixty lines of text. Ovechkin roars as he holds the Stanley Cup overhead, the white away jersey shaded with bits of grey text. It takes a skilled eye to sort text and colors into shapes and shading, but Daniel did a fantastic job! It's awesome to see a fanbase create different interpretations of iconic moments. We'll surely see more of Ovechkin in this moment.

Just as we thought we were going to get tired of the celebration, fans find new ways to surprise us. Stay creative, Caps fans!

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