#1 wide receiver Curtis S von huangjian123 14.08.2018 05:14

The Washington Capitals have never used more rookies during a single postseason than the half-dozen who helped Alex Ovechkin and Co. reach the Eastern Conference final.

They’re contributing in various ways Denzel Ward Jersey , including with secondary scoring and a freedom from the past playoff failures that became a burden for Capitals veterans.

”Man, they gave us a big boost with their energy and enthusiasm,” said Matt Niskanen, a defenseman in his 11th NHL season. ”It’s infectious.”

It’s part of a league-wide trend, too: The 50 rookie skaters in these playoffs are the most since teams used 54 in 2005-06. That could be a reflection of teams having greater trust in young players arriving from junior hockey or college, or the need to stock rosters with cheap talent as a greater percentage of the salary cap is devoted to the elite.

”The way you build your hockey teams, those kids get a chance to play all season long. They get put in positions where they can succeed,” Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. ”Over the last 10 or 15 years, they’re more prepared.”

The Capitals advanced to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in a series beginning Friday night by using five rookies during a clinching 2-1 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. One of the fresh faces, Nathan Walker, assisted on a goal.

In Washington’s Game 5 win over Pittsburgh, another rookie, right wing Jakub Vrana, was bumped from the third line to the top one and delivered an assist on the tying score before putting the go-ahead goal in the net. And to think: Vrana played a tad under seven minutes in Washington’s opening playoff game, then was a healthy scratch for the second. Played every game since Joe Montana Jersey , though.

”I got an opportunity and I was ready,” said Vrana, a 22-year-old from the Czech Republic. ”I didn’t get a whole lot of minutes at the beginning, but even if I get eight minutes, I still go out there and do my best and try to make those eight minutes count.”

Similarly, defenseman Christian Djoos sat out Washington’s first two games but played in the other 10.

Vrana and Djoos were expected to appear in Game 1 at Tampa Bay, perhaps joined by forwards Chandler Stephenson and Travis Boyd, who skated together on the third line at practice Wednesday. Walker and another rookie who faced Pittsburgh, Shane Gersich, are also part of the group that matched the franchise record of six playoff rookies set in 1989-90.

”There’s two kinds of things that happen with young guys. They’re naive and just play and have a lot of fun and it doesn’t bother `em. … There’s other ones that get the starry-eyed, saucer-eyed (look) and they have to sort of work through that,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. ”Early in the Columbus series, (Vrana) had a little bit of those saucer eyes. And then he sort of grew out of it.”

The Lightning’s trio of rookies combined for 12 playoff points through two rounds: Anthony Cirelli, Yanni Gourde and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Cirelli has played a key defensive center role after getting into just 18 regular-season games.

There are fewer youngsters in the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch, who turned 22 on Thursday Joe Montana 49ers Jersey , has four goals and three assists as the sole postseason rookie for the Golden Knights. Their opponent, Winnipeg, has three rookies, but only one has logged regular playing time – left wing Kyle Connor broke out with two goals and an assist in Game 5 of the second round against Nashville, then had two assists in the Jets’ 5-1 victory over the Predators in Game 7 on Thursday night.

Back in 2013-14, his first full season as an NHL coach, Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper used nine rookies in the playoffs, a total no team has eclipsed since.

That Lightning club was swept in the first round.

”I don’t think we were necessarily prepared for it,” said Tyler Johnson, one of four members of that precocious crop who also has appeared in the playoffs for Tampa Bay this time around. ”We didn’t know what to expect.”

That’s the thing about newcomers, of course. They don’t know how they’ll react to being in the faster, more physical, higher-quality, higher-pressure playoffs.

Nor do coaches or teammates.

”There’s a little bit of the enthusiasm of the youth, something about the young guys. They’ve always got the smile on. Sometimes they’re funny. Sometimes they’re naive Kyle Long Jersey Youth ,” Trotz said. ”Sometimes they just sort of need a little bit of tightening from their peers or their coach.”



AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno, AP Sports Writer Fred Goodall in Tampa, Florida, and AP freelancer W.G. Ramirez in Las Vegas contributed to this report.



Tight end Greg Olsen realizes there’s a sense of urgency to win a Super Bowl ring now for a returning core group of Carolina Panthers who are fast approaching the end of their NFL careers.

Julius Peppers is 38 years old. Mike Adams is 37. Thomas Davis is 35. Ryan Kalil is 33, and has already said this year will be his last. The roster includes 19 players that are 29 or older, including Cam Newton.

”Yeah, I mean, I want to get one for them – but I want to get one for myself, too,” joked the 33-year-old Olsen as the Panthers reported to Wofford College for the start of training camp on Wednesday.

Olsen knows how difficult that can be, particularly when competing in the toughest division in football. Three NFC South teams won at least 10 games last season and reached the playoffs.

Carolina won 11 games – and was a wild card team.

Olsen is among 21 holdovers from the NFC Championship team that went 17-1 three seasons ago before losing to the Denver Broncos 24-10 in the Super Bowl.

”Coming so close and realizing just how hard it is to get there and fall short adds to that urgency,” Olsen said. ”A lot of us have been playing this game a long time. We know there is no guarantee in anything. So you have to take advantage when you can. … There is no telling how many years go by until you get a shot at another one.”

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he feels that sense of urgency among some of his veterans, but is confident the players will ”approach things the right way and build to where we want to be.”

While the core of the team remains mostly intact – the exceptions being Jonathan Stewart, Charles Johnson and Kurt Coleman, who were released – the Panthers will have the challenge of adapting to three new coordinators.

Eric Washington takes over the defense after Steve Wilks became the second Carolina defensive coordinator to leave for an NFL head coaching job in two years.

Norv Turner Roquan Smith Jersey , who once coached Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin to a pair of Super Bowls in the early 1990s with the Dallas Cowboys, replaces offensive coordinator Mike Shula after the Panthers finished 19th on offense last year.

Chase Blackburn is the new special teams coordinator.

The defense and special teams won’t change much, but the offense is expected to look noticeably different under Turner, who will be in charge of getting the most out of Newton, one of the game’s most dangerous dual-threat QBs.

Newton combined for 45 touchdowns passing and rushing with 10 only interceptions in 2015 to earn league MVP honors. In the two years since his production has dropped off with 52 combined touchdowns with 30 interceptions.

Newton is learning a new scheme under Turner, but at least he’s healthy.

Last year he missed most of the offseason workouts and the early portion of training camp recovering from shoulder surgery as the Panthers eased him back in.

Wide receiver Devin Funchess said Newton is full of energy this summer and ”ready to rock.”

Carolina is to build on four trips to the playoffs in the last five seasons.

Christian McCaffrey said the Panthers have their eyes set on winning a Super Bowl and nothing less – something the second-year running back believes is ”absolutely” possible.

”We have the guys, we have the talent and we have the leadership,” McCaffrey said. ”We have some unbelievable coaches as well. So we are excited.”

NOTES: Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said Peppers (shoulder), wide receiver Fred Ross (hip), tight end Chris Manhertz (foot) and defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. (ankle) will start training camp on physically unable to perform list, and wide receiver Curtis Samuel (ankle) will begin on the non-football injury list. Hurney was optimistic all have a chance to be ready for the regular season. … Hurney said the Panthers will look to sign a tight end with Manhertz injured.



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