286

What We Learned: First three teams eliminated have a lot in common

The Kings lost their first-round series against Vegas because they went from being the net-driving team they’d been for most of the regular season to playing Darryl Sutter-brand hockey once again, and didn’t score any goals as a result. cheap youth nfl jerseys They ran into a hot goalie, sure, but also they didn’t do much to make that goalie earn his .970-something save percentage in the four-game sweep.

The Ducks had a similar problem: They couldn’t score, but unlike the Kings they also couldn’t keep the puck out of the net. The Sharks aren’t even that great, but they certainly made the Ducks look like a team that had no business being in the playoffs, outscoring them 16-4 in four games.

The Wild weren’t really in that boat, so much, because they just got run out of the building in four out of their five games by a deeply superior team, and only a surprise blowout in Game 3 kept them from being as utterly humiliated as the two above teams. Nonetheless, they lost their last two games by a combined 7-0 scoreline, including a first period in Game 5 that was so laughable it made the last 50 minutes or so not even worth watching.

All of which highlights both an overarching problem with these three teams separately and with the current playoff format. None of these three teams are equipped to be competitive within the Western Conference, but mostly because they are not equipped to be competitive within their respective divisions.286

The Kings and Ducks play in a fairly soft division, probably the softest in the league given its overall lack of elite clubs, and they didn’t come close to being able to keep up even in the first round. Meanwhile, the Wild are a nominally good team — reliably worth 100 points in the standings — but not much more than that because they lack any truly high-end talent.

LA and Anaheim each have a difference-making defenseman and center, but beyond that, what are we really talking about with this club’s talent level on an ongoing basis? After your Doughtys and Lindholms, Getzlafs and Kopitars, who’s carrying the water for these teams? Rickard Rakell? Jeff Carter (if he’s healthy)? Perfectly good players, but not guys who really move the needle, and certainly not guys who do it against actual good competition.

And Minnesota, frankly, doesn’t even have guys on the level of those elite defensemen or centers.nfl youth jerseys cheap If you can get Eric Staal to shoot 17 percent again, that’s fine. Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund can play, too, but they’re on the level of Rakell and Carter in that they’re very nice players to have but if they’re your big weapons you’re not really going to make a lot happen in the playoffs.

285

Young, speedy Avalanche show promise before playoff exit

That blend of quickness, youth and skill boosted the Avalanche from the bottom of the league a year ago to a playoff contender this season. Having an MVP candidate like Nathan MacKinnon leading the charge certainly didn’t hurt, either.

”We love the way we play the game,” Sakic said a day after the Avs were eliminated from the first round nike jersey nfl cheap of the postseason by top-seeded Nashville in six games. ”It’s fast. It’s entertaining. It’s exciting.”

Few expected this kind of run from a Colorado team that had just 48 points in 2016-17. But youthful energy kept the Avalanche in the playoff chase until the end, where they earned the final postseason spot on the last day of the regular season. Their 47-point turnaround from a season ago matches the fourth-highest year-to-year improvement over a full season in NHL history, according to the team.

That bodes well. That is, once the sting of losing to the Predators fades.285

”We’re going to stay the course and let this team grow because they deserve it,” said Sakic, whose squad was one of the league’s youngest with an average age of 25.8. ”We’re going to stay young and in the next couple of years may even get younger. If we can, even try to get a little bit quicker and faster out there.”

The Avalanche fully bought into the message of even-keeled coach Jared Bednar, cheap youth nfl jerseys who will be around two more seasons after Sakic announced Monday he recently agreed to a one-year extension with the former American Hockey League coach.

”It’s a cool story that we went from last to the playoffs, but we’re trying to win a Cup,” said the 22-year-old MacKinnon, who had 39 goals and 58 assists in the regular season. ”We showed a lot of fight this season. … Hopefully we can use some of that next season.”

274

Home form can keep Swansea safe, says Carvalhal

Swansea City’s impressive recent home form could be the key to keeping them in the Premier League, manager Carlos Carvalhal has said.

The Welsh side, who were bottom of the table when Carvalhal was appointed in December, are four points clear of the relegation zone in 17th position and play three of their remaining four games at Liberty Stadium.wholesale nfl jerseys outlet

Swansea have four wins and a draw from their last five home league matches and begin the run-in on Saturday at home to Chelsea before travelling to face Bournemouth.

They the host Stoke City and Southampton, the two teams directly below them, in their final two games.274

“At the Liberty, we have a different face – this is the reality,” Carvalhal told Swansea’s website.

“We know where we are, we know what we have done so far and we know exactly what we can do. We will continue on our path and do what we are doing. We will be ready.

“In three months, we have made up nine points on other teams.buy authentic nfl jerseys It’s amazing,” the Portuguese boss added. “If you asked me when I arrived, nobody would believe that we could achieve that.

“Now we have four games to play – some clubs near us have three. We haven’t got easy games, but it is all in our hands.”

273

PFA award winner Sane hails ‘best coach’ Guardiola

Manchester City playmaker Leroy Sane has hailed Pep Guardiola as the “best coach in the world”, crediting the manager for improving the team’s overall performance which culminated in their Premier League triumph this season.cheap nfl china jerseys

German Sane has been key to City’s title charge this campaign, with the 22-year-old scoring nine goals and providing 12 assists which also earned him the PFA’s Young Player of the Year award.

“He is, for me, the best coach in the world,” Sane told Sky Sports of Guardiola. “Everyone can see that we’ve improved a lot and have taken the next step.

“He always tries to get the best and show us the way to play good football.”273

Sane, who joined City in 2016, also described the team as “perfect” and credited their efforts in helping him win the award.

“I’m really grateful because the team is perfect,” Sane added. “They are all really good guys and we work really hard.

“To play with fantastic players like we have in our team is great.wholesale nfl jerseys outlet Thankfully the club gave me the chance to do it and I enjoy it a lot.”

City, who blanked Swansea City 5-0 on Sunday, will be eager to continue their blistering league form when they travel to West Ham United next weekend.

262

Battle ready: Big leaguers logging long hours on Fortnite

David Price and the Boston Red Sox are feeling every bit at home at the Flush Factory. And in Houston, George Springer and the Astros are just as likely to be talking Boogie Bombs as balls and strikes.

Why is Xander Bogaerts making an L with his fingers and dancing on second base? chinese nfl jerseys nike Who’s the Ninja on Phil Hughes’ Twitter feed? What’s with Derek Fisher and llamas?

Just like gamers everywhere, major leaguers have fallen hard for the Fortnite craze. And while it’s not how John McGraw would teach teamwork, Port-a-Forts and Slurp Juice may be the biggest thing bonding some big leaguers.

”We play all day, every day,” Springer said.262

Fortnite Battle Royale is perhaps the world’s most popular video game, and baseball players are among its most voracious players. The game pits up to 100 competitors in a last-man-standing scenario, letting them mine materials from an ever-shrinking map while hunting down enemies with a variety of weapons. Working in teams is often critical, which is how the World Series champion Astros ended up with a 12-man crew which plays almost nightly at the team hotel on the road.

Springer and Houston’s other outfielders have even been celebrating victories by performing dances from the game – the trio forms a circle, throws their hands in the air and quickly moves their feet, a move Fortnite apparently adapted from an episode of Seinfeld.

Bogaerts was doing something similar on opening day, celebrating a double by doing the “Take The L ” dance – a popular Fortnite taunt.

The Red Sox have a Fortnite squad that covers an array of ages.cheap chinese authentic nfl jerseys The 32-year-old Price was a little late to the game – he heard teammates talking about it near the end of spring training and privately tested it out before trying to break into the team’s Playstation rotation. He practiced a bit with J.D. Martinez, a former Tigers teammate who signed with Boston as a free agent this winter, then got into melees with reliever Carson Smith.

261

Reds rally for 1st win under Riggleman, 10-4 over Braves

Jesse Winker’s bases-loaded single provided Cincinnati’s first lead in six games, and the Reds – off to the worst start in their history – rallied for their first victory under interim manager Jim Riggleman on Monday night, 10-4 over the Atlanta Braves.

“We’ve been having a hard time,” nfl apparel for women said Riggleman, now 1-3. “We got down again, but we got it going.”

The Reds are 4-18, the worst start in the majors since Baltimore opened with an identical mark in 2010. They fired manager Bryan Price on Thursday and got swept in a three-game series at St. Louis under Riggleman.

The smallest crowd at Great American Ball Park in nine years – 9,463 – saw the Reds get only their second win at home and match their season high in runs.

Cincinnati’s offense came in with the fewest runs and homers in the majors, but sent 10 batters to the plate in the sixth inning while scoring five times. Sam Freeman (0-1) loaded the bases with no outs, and Winker’s single off Peter Moylan broke a 2-2 tie. Jose Peraza followed with another single, and Scooter Gennett’s two-run single completed the rally.

“It seemed like we were in a situation where nothing was going our way,” Gennett said. “It’s about time our offense came around.”261

Freeman has made 14 appearances, tied for the major league lead. Manager Brian Snitker thinks he needs some time off.

“I’m not concerned other than the fact that we’ve used him a lot,” Snitker said. “We’ve been leaning hard on him.”

Sal Romano (1-2) allowed four hits in six innings, including Nick Markakis’ homer. Markakis added a two-run single in the eighth, but Iglesias got the last four outs for his third save.

Mike Foltynewicz allowed three hits in 4 2/3 innings,chinese nfl jerseys nike including Scott Schebler’s homer that tied it at 2 in the fifth. The two-run shot snapped Cincinnati’s streak of six games without a homer. The Reds have only 12 homers this season – fewest in the majors – despite playing in one of its most homer-friendly ballparks.

251

Rubio’s triple-double leads Jazz past Thunder 115-102

Rubio, who never reached the playoffs in his first six seasons with Minnesota, had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for Utah’s first playoff triple-double in 17 years to help lead the Jazz to a 115-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

”We were down by 10 … and I just changed my mentality, buy nfl jerseys wholesale trying to be more aggressive and make some shots,” Rubio said. ”We made a run and it helps a lot when you’re making shots and it felt great.”

At one point, Rubio walked toward half-court with his arms outstretched, drinking in the deafening roar and subsequent ”RU-BI-O! RU-BI-O!” chants from the fans.

The Spaniard has previously recorded five triple-doubles in his career and has played in big EuroLeague and Olympic games, but different than the energy and pressure of the NBA playoffs.

”He was on, in so many ways,” Mitchell said.251

Joe Ingles, who had 21 points, made two 3-pointers around two free throws to spark a 13-0 surge that ended on Mitchell’s 3 to put Utah up by 20 points in the fourth quarter. The big run was just par for the course in a series characterized by large runs by one team, then countered by the other.

Rubio’s triple-double was the first by a Jazz player in the postseason since John Stockton in the 2001 playoffs against Dallas.

”Having my name next to his name is an honor,” Rubio said of joining the Hall of Famer in making franchise history. ”I have huge respect for him.”

Paul George scored 23 points and Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Raymond Felton each had 14 for the Thunder. Westbrook also had 11 rebounds and nine assists, just missing his ninth playoff triple-double but also had eight turnovers and shot 5 for 17.

Rudy Gobert’s dunk and pair of free throws capped a 9-0 run in the third quarter to give Utah an 84-70 lead. nike official nfl jerseys Minutes later, Rubio hit a running 28-foot 3-pointer to make it 89-75 entering the final period.

The Jazz changed coverages on Westbrook throughout the game and surprised the perennial All-Star with different players in his expected passing lanes.

Utah also outrebounded the Thunder 48-33 and seemed much quicker to the loose balls in the midst of a charged atmosphere. The Jazz’s hustle plays energized the packed arena festooned in the colors of Southern Utah – red, orange and yellow.

249

Cavaliers win 104-100 at Indiana to even series at 2

The two combined for all of Cleveland’s points in a late 10-2 run, helping the Cavaliers to a 104-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers to even the series at 2. James drew boos from the crowd after flipping the ball up the court to run out the clock.

”You don’t ever want to go down 3-1 against anybody, no matter if it’s the first round or if you’re fortunate enough to get all the way to the finals,” James said. ”It’s just too difficult.”

James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, nfl cheap jerseys from china seven assists and another crowning achievement – his 100th career playoff game with 30 or more points, second all-time to Michael Jordan.

This has been no typical series for James, who started the playoffs with an NBA-record 21 consecutive wins in the first round.

He’s already seen the Pacers go wire-to-wire in Game 1, miss a potential tying 3-pointer in the last 35 seconds of Game 2, rally from a 17-point deficit to win Game 3 and erase a 16-point, first-half deficit to take the lead early in the fourth.

This one looked and felt a lot like the three previous games – tough and physical down to a confusing sequence in the final seconds when Lance Stephenson was whistled for wrestling Jeff Green to the court while hoping for a jump ball.

Indiana still led 93-91 with 4:28 to go on Sunday.249

Then James and Korver reverted to their old ways.

Korver’s 3 with 3:48 left made it 94-93, china nfl nike jerseys James followed with a layup, Korver knocked down another 3 and James added another layup to give the Cavs a 101-95 lead with 1:52 left.

Indiana never recovered.

Korver wound up with 18 points and four 3s to give him 200 in his postseason career.

And without those two 3s, James knew he might have been staring at a 3-1 deficit at the earliest stage of the playoffs in his career.

”He’s one of the all-time leaders in 3-pointers made,” James said. ”His four 3s were huge. We needed every last one of them, obviously.”

238

Eagles in discussions about White House visit

The Philadelphia Eagles have received an invitation to visit the White House following their Super Bowl LII championship and are discussing how to move forward.

“We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington,nfl authentic jerseys cheap ” the Eagles said through a team spokesman. “We are honored to receive this invitation and view this not only as an opportunity to be recognized for our on-field achievements, but also as an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the leaders of our country.”

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, defensive end Chris Long and former wide receiver Torrey Smith — now with the Carolina Panthers — are three of the Eagles players who have said they would not attend if an invitation was presented.238

“I don’t want to take away from anybody’s experience or make it a big distraction. It’s a celebratory event, and I want the guys who choose to go or whatever to enjoy that,” Jenkins said in February. “Me personally, because it’s not a meeting or a sitdown or anything like that, I’m just not interested in the photo op.

“Over the last two years, I’ve been meeting with legislators, both Republican and Democrat, it don’t matter. If you want to meet to talk about events in my community, changing the country, I’m all for that. But this isn’t one of those meetings, so I’ll opt out of the photo opportunity.”

Added Smith: “Going to the White House should be seen as an honor, and I believe it is an honor, but to me it has to be an honor with the right type of respect in office. I just don’t see it.

“It’s not about politics; I just don’t think the president is a good person. nfl jersey wholesale I don’t want to go out of my way to go see someone who isn’t even welcoming the men in this locker room and our different cultures.”

The timing of White House visits for Super Bowl-winning teams has varied over the years. The New England Patriots’ visit last year was announced in late March and occurred on April 19.

237

‘Agony and ecstasy’: The art of the draft call

Ryan Shazier and his family got the tip from agent Jimmy Sexton, nfl authentic jerseys who was on the phone with the Dallas Cowboys from inside the green room during the 2015 NFL draft.

“The Cowboys are going to take you,” Sexton told the table.

Shazier’s father, Vernon, and Luke Fickell, Shazier’s defensive coordinator at Ohio State, started firing off texts to loved ones about Shazier’s new NFL home. Seconds later, Shazier got the call everyone assumed was from Dallas with the 16th overall pick.

Vernon was about to hit send when his son’s words froze his thumbs.237

“What’s up, Buckeye?” said Shazier to the person on the other line, then-Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, an Ohio State running back in the ’50s.

“I was going to tell my brother he won since he’s a Cowboys fan, but I got to erase that text and say that I won,” said Vernon, a longtime Steelers fan.

The NFL draft is wrought with front-office posturing, misinformation and debates about whether millennials will ask too many questions in team meetings.

One draft practice will never be tainted: the call.

At least 250 times next week, head coaches or general managers will reach a player by phone and rock his life with the news that he has been drafted.

The buildup is brutal, until the grip of the phone is gleeful,nfl authentic jerseys cheap or sometimes awkward.

“Roller-coaster ride,” said Brady Quinn, who should know after falling to No. 22 overall in the 2007 draft. “Changes your life forever.”