Capitals

Status of Bears QB Jay Cutler remains uncertain

Status of Bears QB Jay Cutler remains uncertain

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The status of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler going into the weekend remains uncertain because of a concussion, although coach Lovie Smith said Friday he is optimistic about Cutler's return.

Cutler, who missed Monday night's 32-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, is listed as questionable against the Minnesota Vikings. Whether he plays in Sunday's game at Soldier Field hinges on passing a test from an independent neurologist Saturday.

It's possible Cutler's injury report status could change before the game.

``He's looking better,'' Smith said of Cutler after Friday's practice. ``The last phase of his evaluation will be tomorrow and then we'll be able to let you know from there.''

Cutler on Friday went through a second straight limited practice session. He hasn't had a full practice yet this week. Backup Jason Campbell, who is suffering from a rib injury, went through his first full practice Friday.

Cutler's play impressed his teammates.

``He looked good,'' running back Matt Forte said. ``He should play, I think.''

Regardless of which quarterback plays, he'll be protected by a completely revamped offensive line. The Bears gave up six sacks against San Francisco, including 5 1/2 to defensive end Aldon Smith, and it led to second-year right tackle Gabe Carimi getting benched. He'll be replaced by Jonathan Scott, who played previously for Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Detroit.

The Bears spent a first-round draft pick in 2011 on Carimi, and last week's game was his 12th NFL start. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2 last year, and had two surgeries. He had said before the season that the knee wasn't 100 percent, while offensive coordinator Mike Tice has said Carimi simply gets too aggressive and gets off balance when blocking.

``I just messed up on a couple plays here and there,'' Carimi said. ``I played good ball. I am just inconsistent right now. Be it the knee or be it aggression, who knows what it is sometimes? But I know I will come back from this.''

Left guard Chris Spencer, who started the first two games this year, will be back in that spot as Chilo Rachal has been put on the reserve/non-football injury list. Rachal left the team after being informed Wednesday that he was being benched.

``It's another thing we deal with it,'' Smith said about Rachal leaving the team. ``But we have other options. Team-wise, you have to look at it as an injury. Guys go down and it's always about the next guy stepping up and that's where we are.''

Rookie tackle-guard James Brown has been promoted from the practice squad to take Rachal's spot on the 53-man roster.

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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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