Capitals

Seattle trying to avoid distractions about CBs

Seattle trying to avoid distractions about CBs

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Richard Sherman is at the center of what could be a massive distraction for the Seattle Seahawks as they try to keep hold of the last playoff spot in the NFC wild-card chase.

Yet the talkative cornerback said Wednesday that this week is the same as always, despite news leaking out of failed drug tests by Sherman and fellow starting cornerback Brandon Browner that could be a huge blow to Seattle's playoff chase.

``No, nothing different. It's not tough at all. It's just the same old routine for us regardless of what is going on,'' Sherman said. ``You just go out there and play football. That's the good thing about the game, you can just go out there and play. You don't have to worry about nothing, and there is nothing to worry about in the first place.''

Sherman spoke for the first time since news first broke saying he and Browner failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs and face possible four-game suspensions. The Seahawks expect the pair to play this week at Chicago while they work on their appeal to the league.

``The truth always comes out. You just go on about going on,'' Sherman said. ``The process is going to play out how it's going to play out and when you know what you know, you just continue to be confident, continue to go out there and play.''

Later Wednesday, after the Seahawks wrapped practice, the pair released a statement through the team saying they would not be commenting about the situation again until the appeal is completed.

``To allow our focus to remain on football, during the appeal process we will refrain from any further public comments regarding this situation,'' the statement said.

Browner's agent, Peter Schaffer, told reporters Monday night that Browner has no knowledge of how any illegal substances could have entered his system.

The team is limited in what it can say directly regarding the possible suspensions because of the league's collective bargaining agreement.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll on Wednesday said the issue was discussed and there would be no lingering hangover, whether it was from Seattle giving up 17 fourth-quarter points last Sunday at Miami, or all the attention on the possible suspensions.

``I feel like they have responded well, and we have talked about any issues that can come up, and those issues are no different than what everybody faces in that Chicago has six guys hurt. How do you deal with that? You have all of those issues that you have to deal with so you just take them on, face it up and go,'' Carroll said. ``So right now whatever you're referring to is not an issue in our locker room.''

Seattle fullback Michael Robinson, one of the Seahawks' players union representatives, said he was concerned that news of the suspensions leaked out before the appeal was heard and about how that could influence opinions.

``I think it puts the players in a compromising situation. I feel like the people that are hearing the appeals watch TV just like you and I and perception is reality,'' Robinson said. ``If the media is driving a story that some players did something and it might not be true - who knows - I feel personally that affects the appeals process. I think it should be very, very confidential and no one should know about it until all the facts are out.''

Browner and Sherman are key for the Seahawks defense. Browner was a Pro Bowl selection a season ago, and Sherman has quickly climbed the ranks of the elite cornerbacks in the league in just his second season. Their ability to play one-on-one, physical defense is largely why Seattle has the third-best pass defense in the NFL.

On a conference call Wednesday, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall said he respected cornerbacks like Browner and Sherman because of their willingness to match up one-on-one against receivers.

``I love one-on-one coverage, so if they're going to do that then it's going to be fun out there,'' Marshall said. ``This is what the NFL is about, man on man. All of this double-coverage, triple-coverage stuff, I don't really respect that or corners that hide behind a system, and these two guys don't hide behind the system. They want the target on their back and I respect them for it.''

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

The wait is finally over. 

After two decades, the Capitals are back in the Stanley Cup Final. 

After a convincing 4-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Capitals are in Vegas to take on the Golden Knights. They'll be facing off against a handful of familiar names, with former Caps GM George McPhee, fan favorite Nate Schmidt, and ex-Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fluery are just a few of the names that'll be suiting up for Vegas. 

What will the X-factors in the series be? Who will be the unexpected heroes of Game 1? The action is almost underway, and here are all the details you need to know.

Game 1 Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Monday, May 28
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV.
TV Channel: NBCSN 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 FM)

WHEN IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES?

Game 1 of the Capitals-Golden Knights 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final takes place on Monday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

WHAT TV CHANNEL IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 1 between the Capitals and Golden Knights is on NBC. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

5:00 p.m. — Caps Cup Preview
6:00 p.m. — Caps GameDay Live
6:30 p.m. — Caps Face Off
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Game 1 Capitals vs. Golden Knights
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1?

Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights is available for online stream on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the NBC Sports live stream page.

CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals digital producer JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.