Capitals

Seminoles look for win vs. Hokies after week off

Seminoles look for win vs. Hokies after week off

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Although Jimbo Fisher is 27-9 since taking the reins at Florida State, he still hasn't won after a bye week.

The eighth-ranked Seminoles (8-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) are 0-2 following a layoff in Fisher's first two seasons. They're aiming to snap that bit of ignominy Thursday night at Virginia Tech, which is in danger of its first losing season in more than two decades.

Aside from some earlier season-ending injuries to key players, Fisher said the Seminoles are well rested and healthy. He said the coaches and players haven't given any thought to the failures of the last two years after bye weeks.

``That has nothing to do with how we prepare,'' Fisher said Monday. ``This is not the same team. Your injuries aren't the same. Your history is not the same.''

Last year the Seminoles were upset 35-30 at Wake Forest despite having two weeks to get ready for that game. In 2010 they were defeated at North Carolina State after a 12-day rest and then came home and were beat again by North Carolina. In each case, the Seminoles were favorites to win and they're a two touchdown favorite over the Hokies, who are trying to salvage a winning season and bowl berth.

``We can't control how they play,'' Fisher said. ``All we can control is how we play and how we prepare mentally to go in there.''

Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3) has won just twice since Sept. 8 and outscored 68-29 the last two weeks in losses at Clemson and Miami. Their lone wins the past two months were over Bowling Green and Duke.

``The difference between winning and losing sometimes can be two or three plays, or confidence sometimes,'' Fisher said.

But the Hokies seem to have plenty of confidence at home where they're 4-1 this year and have always been hard to beat. They whipped the Seminoles 40-21 the last time the two played in Blacksburg, Va. In 2007.

But like Fisher likes to say, this is a different Florida State team and he gets no disagreement from Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer.

``Our players have realized what a challenge we have,'' Beamer said. ``We have their attention toward that and that's what we need to be looking at right now.''

However, the Seminoles have struggled in their three road games this year, averaging 26.7 points per game compared to 54 at home. Their lone loss came a month ago at North Carolina State after the Seminoles inexplicably blew a 16-point halftime lead.

Fisher believes his team has matured as a result of those experiences and doesn't expect history to repeat itself in the form of another loss after an open date.

``We'll be a good fresh team,'' Fisher said. ``A team that's mentally prepared and ready to play.''

Quick Links

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...

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

Quick Links

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?

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS: