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The Vegas Golden Knights have long embraced their status as unheralded underdogs [url=http://www.49erscheapstore.com/mike-mcglinchey-jersey-cheap]Mike McGlinchey Jersey[/url] , from their very first game as an NHL expansion team in October through their stunning dismantling of Winnipeg in the Western Conference Final.
”We call ourselves the Golden Misfits for a reason,” winger Ryan Reaves said prior to the Stanley Cup Final series against Washington. ”We’ve proven everyone else wrong all season.”
Vegas entered the Final as favorites over the Capitals, who broke into the league in 1974 and are still in search of their first championship. The Golden Knights won the opener, but after dropping two in a row they find themselves playing a familiar role as they prepare for Game 4 on Monday night.
”We’re still underdogs,” left wing David Perron said. ”They’re a great team over there. Now the pressure is on them to keep going. We’re going to find a way to answer.”
The Capitals got caught up in a fast-paced, fire-at-will contest in Game 1, and Vegas rolled to a 6-4 victory. Washington made the adjustment in Game 2 and won 3-2, then gripped the defensive clamp even tighter Saturday night in a 3-1 win.
Now, mired in their initial losing streak of the playoffs and trailing 2-1 in games for the first time, the Golden Knights are desperate to become more effective pushing the puck toward the net.
”We get it out on our blue line and we try to make a cross-ice play and they’re picking it off,” Reaves said. ”Their transition game is good. We’re getting to their blue line and we’re trying get cute again instead of doing what works. With this team, that’s getting it in and then going to work.”
The Capitals know this, and they have taken great strides to shackle a team that averaged 3.31 goals per game during the regular season, tied for fourth in the NHL.
”Offensive teams have certain tendencies, certain routes that they take through the neutral zone, plays they like to make,” Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen said. ”So if you can be on top of them and turn over some pucks, stifle them, make it hard for them to gain entry with possession [url=http://www.brownscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-austin-corbett-jersey]Authentic Austin Corbett Jersey[/url] , that frustrates skilled players.”
The Golden Knights mustered only 22 shots on goal in Game 3, with Tomas Nosek getting the lone score after Washington goaltender Braden Holtby did a miserable job of clearing the puck from behind his net.
”They defended well. We were getting clogged up a little bit,” Vegas winger James Neal said. ”They sit back. We’ve got to get pucks to the net. We didn’t have enough shots. We didn’t have enough bodies going to the net. They out-battled us. We’re going to look at that and fix it.”
That’s what Sunday’s skate was about. The Golden Knights understand the problem, and the task now is to correct the shortcoming.
”We’ve just got to get back to our game, getting pucks deep and getting in on the forecheck,” defenseman Derek Engelland said. ”It’s been our key all season long, the five-man forecheck and five-guy pressure all over the ice.”
Vegas doesn’t need a high-scoring, freestyle affair to win. The Golden Knights have a pair of 1-0 shutouts during the playoffs and have won twice when scoring only two goals.
The key is to cut down on the mistakes. Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped Alex Ovechkin at the end of a 2-on-1 rush early in the game, but the Capitals converted an odd-man blitz in the second period for a 2-0 lead.
”Working hard to get down low, we just couldn’t hold onto it or make a big play, and the Capitals are going the other way,” Vegas center Ryan Carpenter said.
It’s not by accident. Washington coach Barry Trotz changed things up after Game 1, and the results were profound.
”There are things that they do that have given us some difficulties, and we’ve adjusted,” Trotz said. ”They’ll do the same.”
The Capitals have fortified their defense, and Vegas now must find a way to penetrate the barrier. If it can do that, then Fleury will happily do his part in to help bring the series back to Las Vegas tied a two games apiece.
”I have faith in these guys that they can do well, they can do what they’ve done for the past three rounds and all season long,” the goaltender said.
What they’ve done [url=http://www.ravenscheapstores.com/lamar-jackson-jersey-cheap]Cheap Lamar Jackson Jersey[/url] , more often than not, is win when few thought they could.
”We’ve been in situations like this before: adversity, have our backs against the wall a bit,” defenseman Luca Sbisa said. ”The belief in our group is still here. Just got to stick together.”
More Stanley Cup coverage: 鈥?The only thing that Saquon Barkley has to prove at the NFL combine this week is that he’s every bit as good as advertised.“For a guy like Barkley who has worked so hard to develop his gifts, I mean, for him it ought to be a victory celebration. It really should,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “You got to come in and knock it down, one drill after another.“He’s going to walk out of there four days later and everyone’s going to go: ‘Wow, he’s just as good or better than we thought he was.'”Then, there would be no doubt that a running back will go in the top five picks of the draft for the third consecutive year, joining Ezekiel Elliott in 2016 and Leonard Fournette in 2017.The Penn State star might even be the first running back selected in the top two picks since Reggie Bush in 2006 or even the first to go No. 1 overall since another Nittany Lion, Ki-Jana Carter, in 1995.“I’m just focused on coming out here and trying to dominate this combine,” Barkley said.Everyone expects him to do just that.General managers and coaches know all about the 5-foot-11, 233-pound back with a magnificent medley of jaw-dropping quickness and excellent acceleration, speed, balance, vision and power to go with an off-the-charts work ethic who helped Penn State dismantle Washington’s vaunted defense in the Fiesta Bowl .Mayock said Barkley will dazzle teams even when he’s not on his feet.“When he goes into meetings at night,” Mayock said [url=http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/jaire-alexander-jersey]Jaire Alexander Packers Jersey[/url] , “he’s going to blow people away.”Barkley, who grew up boxing like his father and great uncle but was always drawn more to the gridiron than the ring, quickly rose to national prominence as one of the country’s most dynamic players as a true freshman at Penn State in 2015.He flashed a frenetic running style to compile a lengthy highlight reel full of hurdles, spin moves and jukes on his way to a program-best 43 rushing touchdowns in three years.Mayock said Barkley is at least equal to the last four top-10 running backs 鈥?Fournette, Elliott, Todd Gurley and Christian McCaffrey 鈥?all of whom made their teams significantly better as rookies.“I could make the case that this kid Barkley is the best of those guys, best of all five of them,” Mayock said. “He’s clean off the field. And he’ll be great in your locker room. I would be absolutely stunned if this kid doesn’t go in the Top 5.”The Browns, Giants and Colts own the top three picks in next month’s draft. Cleveland also owns No. 4 and Denver has the fifth selection.“Any team that wants to draft me,” Barkley said, “is a blessing to me.”Barkley said he embraces the chance to transform a downtrodden team like the Browns, who have one win in two years, or the Giants, coming off a down year: “You want to be part of something like that, something that’s bigger than yourself.”Whoever ends up choosing Barkley can expect to be picking a lot later in next year’s draft. (Fournette’s Jaguars are picking 29th this year, five picks after McCaffrey’s Panthers).Barkley averaged nearly 6 yards a carry as a junior in State College, rushing for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns and catching 54 passes for 632 yards and three TDs. He also completed two passes 鈥?one for a score 鈥?and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.He won the Paul Hornung Award as college football’s most versatile player and left Penn State after his junior year just 89 yards shy of the program rushing record with 3,843 yards.“I feel whether I’m running the ball from the 99-yard line or the 1-yard line that I can find a way to get into the end zone. I can do it all [url=http://www.saintscheapstore.com/marcus-davenport-jersey-cheap]Cheap Marcus Davenport Jersey[/url] , I feel like,” Barkley said. “I can go over the top of you, I can beat you with speed, I can beat you with some wiggle, I could run through you.”That may come off as boastful, but not when Barkley says it.He said he watches all of today’s great NFL running backs but models his game after none of them.“I’ve never wanted to be like anybody,” Barkley said. “That’s something that my dad taught me growing up: ‘Never want to be like someone, be the next you.’ But I am a fan of the game, I’m a fan of the position and I watch everyone.” Including Barry Sanders on YouTube .If he had to pick anyone he’d like to be like, it’d be the Lions’ Hall of Famer.“That was a great guy that I looked up to growing up not only on the field 鈥?off the field. The way he carried himself, he was humble,” Barkley said. “When he scored a touchdown, he’d give the ball to the ref. If you look at his football life, he’s carrying cups to his offensive linemen, and I think that’s what a running back should be about. That’s what our position should be about and I try to model myself after that.”.
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