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Seahawks take break after getting to 5-0 at home

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Seahawks take break after getting to 5-0 at home

SEATTLE (AP) Pete Carroll kicked his players out of the Seattle's practice facility Monday with a simple message for their week off.

Get some rest.

``Hopefully we can cash in on it. What we will gain is rest and the rehab part of it and then we've got to go back to work and really hit it in earnest Monday,'' Carroll said.

``I do feel good about where we are going and the guys have worked really hard and performed very consistently. They've done everything we've asked them to do in terms of the prep and focus and bringing it week in and week out and I trust they understand that.''

Rather than starting to look ahead for their next game Nov. 28 at Miami, Carroll decided after 10 weeks it was best for the Seahawks - winners of two straight - to get an extended break. So following a short team meeting Monday, the Seahawks were sent on their way coming off Sunday's 28-7 rout of the New York Jets.

The Seahawks (6-4) are 5-0 at home for the first time since 2005, the season they won the NFC championship and played in their only Super Bowl. Their final three home games are all against division foes - San Francisco, Arizona and St. Louis - but sweeping those three still might not be enough to make the playoffs in the highly competitive NFC.

Still, the 6-4 start is the best for the franchise since 2007, the last time Seattle won 10 games.

``Disappointed in the way we've played on the road that we didn't find a way to get a couple more of those wins. We've been in every one of them. We understand all of that,'' Carroll said. ``I think we've been very consistent. I think we understand what we're trying to do. ... I think we're getting harder to beat.''

Seattle easily dispatched the Jets with another impressive defensive effort and subtle halftime adjustments that got the Seahawks' run game started. The highlights came on two touchdown passes from Russell Wilson and by Golden Tate's shot put TD pass to Sidney Rice on a fourth-quarter reverse that capped the victory.

But Seattle rushed for 122 yards in the second half, the fourth time this season they have topped 100 yards rushing in the final 30 minutes. Marshawn Lynch had 85 of his 124 yards after halftime and for the second straight week Seattle held possession for more than 12 minutes of the fourth quarter.

The Seahawks had it for 12:10 in the fourth against Minnesota in Week 9. On Sunday, they held the ball for 12:05 of the final quarter against the Jets.

Carroll said Seattle was caught ``overtargeting'' its blocking targets in the first half with the Jets showing some different defensive looks. Adjustments were made by assistant head coach Tom Cable at halftime and the results were obvious.

``We just adjusted to that and I thought that was a really good sign of communication and really we're growing together,'' Carroll said.

Wilson now has 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions at home. While it's not the ultimate determinant of a quarterback's play, Wilson's 122.0 passer rating in home games is the best in the league. According to the NFL, Wilson is the first rookie quarterback since the merger to win his first five starts at home.

``I think the biggest thing is to relax the mind and relaxing the body more than anything,'' Wilson said of the break. ``It's been a long season so far.''

Defensively, the 185 total yards the Jets had were the fewest allowed by the Seahawks this season. They've now held eight of 10 opponents under 100 yards rushing and, after a third-down disaster in Detroit on Oct. 28, have drastically improved getting off the field. The Lions were 12 of 16 on third down en route to beating the Seahawks 28-24. The last two weeks, Minnesota and New York were a combined 5 of 21 on third-down attempts.

Carroll is hopeful that when the Seahawks return from their week off they will be fully healthy. Guard James Carpenter and linebacker K.J. Wright both missed Sunday's game with lingering concussions. Carroll expects both will be cleared. Reserve defensive tackles Greg Scruggs (oblique) and Clinton McDonald (groin) were both inactive and are expected to be back.

But there are a number of other nicks and bumps that could use healing. Seattle had nine players listed as probable on its final injury report Friday.

``We set a lot into motion right now and we want to make sure that when we come back, we're better than when we left,'' Carroll said. ``Hopefully our guys can do that.''

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Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

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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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