Capitals

Vikings vying for playoffs with sore Peterson

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Vikings vying for playoffs with sore Peterson

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) One year ago, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier approached the postgame news conference and was ready to bask in the glory of a pre-Christmas victory that snapped a six-game losing streak, even though star running back Adrian Peterson's career was in doubt following a major knee injury.

That was then.

Now, Peterson leads the NFL with 1,898 yards rushing and is only 207 yards away from Eric Dickerson's single-season record, and is dealing with an abdominal injury. And he says he'll be ready to help Minnesota (9-6) in its bid to earn a playoff spot with a victory over the Green Bay Packers (11-4) on Sunday.

``To go through all those tough times the last couple years to get back to where we were in `09, to a point be in the playoff hunt and be on the doorstep now; I think the best part for us is, if you really want to prove it, you win this game, you're in,'' linebacker Chad Greenway said. ``This is everything. All the chips are in now. We wanted this. We asked for it. Let's go. Let's not be scared of it, because there's nothing to lose at this point.''

With Peterson leading the way and trying to become the seventh player in league history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season - he needs 102 to join the club - Minnesota has made an unlikely late-season run to control its playoff destiny. The Vikings would clinch a postseason berth with a win over the NFC North champion Packers on Sunday. A loss by Minnesota opens several scenarios, which includes needing losses by the Chicago Bears (9-6), New York Giants (8-7) and Dallas Cowboys (8-7).

Peterson sat out the final minutes of Sunday's 23-6 win at Houston, with coach Leslie Frazier calling it a precautionary measure. He finished with 86 yards against the Texans, ending his streak of eight 100-yard games.

``Adrian is a little bit sore with his abdominal muscle,'' Frazier said. ``We'll have to see how he does this week, how much work that we'll give him as we get ready for this ball game, which will be a huge ball game for our team.''

The Vikings are also expected to have 14-year veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield available. He suffered a ``small'' fracture in his hand Sunday. He played through the injury, and would wear a soft cast if he goes against the Packers.

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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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