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Peter Laviolette’s ability to create culture ‘big reason’ Capitals hired him as coach

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Peter Laviolette sees the Washington Capitals as another opportunity to take a team to the Stanley Cup final and try to win it all again.

The Capitals see Laviolette as the experienced, steady hand who can help them contend for another title in what could be the final few years of their championship window.

Washington made Laviolette the first Stanley Cup-winning coach hired in the franchise’s 46-year history on Tuesday —and only the second with previous NHL head coaching experience during the Alex Ovechkin era.

Each side considers this a perfect fit.

“You have a terrific cast of talent that’s big and strong and can play the game aggressive and has a chance to be successful on a nightly basis,” Laviolette said. “I’m excited to go in and be here and be a part of this and add any layer that I can as a coach to try and help get to that next step.”

Laviolette, 55, takes over for Todd Reirden, a first-time head coach who was fired following a back-to-back first-round playoff exits. Reirden was the top assistant under Barry Trotz when the Capitals won their lone title in 2018.

‘Very fortunate to hire someone of Peter’s calibre’

Getting Laviolette in the fold is an acknowledgment that this older, veteran team could use a coach with the same qualities and experience.

“We feel very fortunate to be able to hire someone of Peter’s calibre and to have him available at a time of need for our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “His track record with different organizations, he’s been challenged a number of times of having teams that have different personalities in the locker room and on the ice and he’s been able to adapt to different groups and be successful in the league.”

Laviolette coached the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006 and took the Philadelphia Flyers to the final in 2010 and the Nashville Predators in 2017. In Nashville, he succeeded Trotz, who joined the Capitals in 2014 and left in a contract dispute after coaching them to the Cup.

Fired by the Predators in January after 5 1/2 seasons, Laviolette plans to adapt his system and techniques to his new players.

“I think when you take over a team, you come in with an open mind and a blank slate on the team and the players and the individual personnel,” Laviolette said. “And then from there it’s about building your identity on the ice, setting a standard of what you expect on a daily basis and working together throughout the course of the year to try and prepare yourself for the playoffs.”

Laviolette’s task will not just be getting the Capitals to the playoffs but trying to put them in a position to contend for the Stanley Cup. Ovechkin will be 35 when next season starts, has one year left on his contract and will be on his seventh coach since he entered the league in 2005.

Taskmaster

Ovechkin could sign an extension that lines him up with centre Nicklas Backstrom’s new contract. Wingers T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson, centre Evgeny Kuznetsov and defenceman John Carlson are all signed long term, while goaltender Braden Holtby is set to become a free agent, handing Ilya Samsonov the starting job.

“Yeah, I would expect him to go to free agency,” MacLellan said of Holtby. “The goalie market is probably a little unusually deep this year. I talked to his agent last week briefly about where he’s at and the kind of opportunities he’s looking for. I would assume he goes to free agency and we’ll keep in contact with him throughout the free agency period to see if he’s getting what he wants.”

Laviolette is the taskmaster coach the Capitals haven’t had since Dale Hunter in 2011-12. Hunter helped Washington reach Game 7 of the second round, a hump they couldn’t get over until Trotz coached them to the Cup two years ago.

“Coming to Washington, that’s my priority is to try and build something where when the players take the ice the truly feel like they’re invincible,” Laviolette said.

Laviolette, whose first head job was with the New York Islanders, ranks 16th in all-time coaching wins with a career record of 637-425-123. He also has coached the U.S. at the world championships several times and was an assistant at the 2010 Olympics.

“Peter has a track record of establishing a culture, and it’s one of his priorities,” MacLellan said. “Both me, and I assume the players, [know] that’s a big strength of his moving forward and it’s a big reason why we hired him.”

source: – CBC.ca

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Lightning not reaching for easy excuses after Game 1 letdown – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — The evidence that the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to make this an interesting Stanley Cup Final can’t be found as much in what they did as what they didn’t do.

Namely, they didn’t seize on any of the excuses easily on offer after a 4-1 loss here to the Dallas Stars in Game 1.

The most clear example came on the Jamie Oleksiak goal that stood up as the winner. The puck was clearly fired into the Tampa zone from the wrong side of centre ice by Miro Heiskanen, which was accompanied by an animated response from the Lightning bench in real time.

Yet, by the time everyone had a chance to double-check the receipts, a collective set of amnesia had taken hold.

“I didn’t really see it,” said Tyler Johnson.

“I didn’t look at the play,” said Yanni Gourde. “I don’t know.”

“To be honest, I can’t really remember the play,” said Kevin Shattenkirk. “Sorry, me either.”

As dull as those quotes might read in print, that’s exactly the response a team needs following an emotional loss. The Lightning had a built-in explanation for why this game might not have turned out in their favour, but the true reason for a 1-0 series deficit was found more in the slow start and a strong goaltending performance by Anton Khudobin than anything else.

Tampa didn’t respond particularly well to the 48-hour turnaround after winning the Eastern Conference Final and couldn’t reverse a 3-1 deficit even while outshooting Dallas 22-2 in the third period.

The Oleksiak goal was a back-breaker. The lineseman didn’t raise his arm for icing when Heiskanen fired the puck in from the wrong side of centre, which is almost certainly why Victor Hedman never got below the faceoff dot to get the puck there.

“Well you wouldn’t be asking the question if you didn’t think the same that we may have thought. But it’s a moot point now. So you can’t go back and change the call,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

They also couldn’t go back and find more purpose in the opening minutes. Dallas dictated the pace, grabbed an early lead and parked the bus.

That raised some questions about a Lightning team that has given up the first goal in six straight games. However, they’ve responded with the 1-1 goal each time, and lost their grip here in a second period where Dallas regained the lead.

“I’m just disappointed in the fact that we got away from our strengths,” said Lightning defenceman Ryan McDonagh. “They’re a great skating, great structured team, but I think we could have played to our strengths a little bit better. Simplified our game and get going north a little bit more early on and allow ourselves to so-called find our game with our forechecking and our offensive zone play.”

Those will be key talking points before Monday’s Game 2 at Rogers Place.

When the Lightning look at this Cup opener with clearer eyes, they’ll focus on creating more chaos in front of Khudobin. The power play will be a natural focus after going 0-for-3 in the third period and seeing it fall quiet late in the Islanders series.

“He’s a very good goalie,” said Johnson. “When he’s on, he’s on. I thought we generated some pretty good chances and he made some really big saves. Did we do enough? No, because we lost the game. I mean we’ve got to do more. We’ve got to do more than score one goal.”

Still, deep down, there were no excuses in this loss. Tampa didn’t play with nearly the same verve it had in the previous rounds.

But the Lightning have been buckling in for a real series.

“I think we probably dipped our toes in the water a little bit and watched them skate around for a bit,” said Cooper. “It’s too bad, but you’ve heard me say it a million times: Turn the page and move on.

“Short memory in the playoffs.”

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Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees – 9/19/20 MLB Pick, Odds, and Prediction – Sports Chat Place

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New York Yankees (29-21) at Boston Red Sox (19-32)

MLB Baseball: Saturday, September 19, 2020 at 7:30 pm (Fenway Park)

J.A. Happ (1-2) (3.96) vs. Chris Mazza (1-1) (5.57)

The Line: Boston Red Sox / New York Yankees — Over/Under:
Click Here for the Latest Odds

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The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox meet in an AL East division matchup in MLB action from Fenway Park on Saturday.

The New York Yankees will look to keep the ball rolling after nine straight wins following a 6-5 win over the BoSox on Friday. Gary Sanchez led the way, going 2 for 5 with a home run, a double and three RBIs while DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton each had a double and an RBI and Luke Voit added an RBI as well to finish off New York’s scoring as a team in the win. Aaron Hicks went 2 for 5 at the dish while Clint Frazier, Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge all had base hits as well to finish the offense for the Yankees in the victory. Jordan Montgomery allowed four runs on five hits with seven strikeouts over 4.2 innings in the start, not factoring in the decision. Jonathan Loaisiga got the win to improve to 3-0 on the year in relief. J.A. Happ will start here and is 1-2 with a 3.96 ERA and 30 strikeouts this season. In his career, Happ is 12-4 with a 2.95 ERA and 116 strikeouts against Boston.

Check Out Our Cosensus Report To See How Many Handicappers are On A Play

New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox Free Pick 9/19/20 MLB Pick and Prediction MLB Tips (skip to 1s)

The Boston Red Sox will try to rebound after blowing an opportunity against the Yankees on Friday. Christian Arroyo went 3 for 5 with a home run and four RBIs while Christian Vazquez went 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles and an RBI to round out Boston’s scoring as a team in the win. Xander Bogaerts went 2 for 5 while Alex Verdugo and Jackie Bradley Jr. all had base hits to finish off the offense for Boston in defeat. Martin Perez threw six shutout innings, giving up just three hits while striking out seven, not factoring in the decision. Ryan Weber took the loss in extras to fall to 1-3 on the year, Chris Mazza is expected to start here and is 1-1 with a 5.57 ERA and 22 strikeouts this season. This will be Mazza’s second career start against the Yankees.

Trends will be updated once they’ve been released.

Part of me would’ve liked to consider the over as I don’t trust either of these pitchers as far as I can throw them, and you never really know about which Happ you’re going to get. With that said, I think that the Yankees keep the train rolling here and Mazza’s already faced New York this season, allowing four runs in three innings of work. I don’t see how Mazza keeps the Red Sox in this one. Give me New York by at least two so I’ll side with the Yankees on the run line in this one.

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Chris’s Pick
New York Yankees -1.5

The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a Sports Chat Place site consensus.

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Wolff shoots 65, takes 54-hole lead at U.S. Open – pgatour.com

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MAMARONECK, N.Y. — Matthew Wolff might be too young to realize he’s supposed to hit fairways to have a chance to win the U.S. Open. Or maybe he’s so good it doesn’t matter.

Wolff hit only two fairways Saturday and still matched the lowest score ever at Winged Foot in a major, a 5-under 65 that gave the 21-year-old Californian a two-shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau going into the final round.

Whether it was the first cut or the nasty rough, Wolff kept giving those hips one last swivel before blasting away and giving himself birdie chances. He made enough of them to seize control, and then let so many others crumble.

Patrick Reed, tied for the lead at the turn, couldn’t find the fairway and paid dearly with a 43 on the back nine. Reed had a three-shot lead after two holes. He walked off the 18th green with a 77 and was eight shots behind.

Collin Morikawa won the PGA Championship last month in his first try at age 23. Wolff is playing his first U.S. Open at age 21. Is he next?

“I’m probably going to be a little antsy. It’s the U.S. Open, and I have a lead,” Wolff said. “I’m going to try to keep my nerves as calm as they can be. I put myself in a really good spot. I did everything that I could do up until this point, and tomorrow I’m going to go out there, I promise you I’m going to try my best.”

He was at 5-under 205. Not since Francis Ouimet in 1913 — also the last time the U.S. Open was played in September — has a player won the U.S. Open in his debut.

DeChambeau could easily have gone the same route as Reed, missing left and right, gouging his way out of the grass. But after opening with two bogeys, he kept scrambling away — 15 straight holes with nothing worse than par. He rallied with two late birdies until missing a short par putt on the 18th for a 70.

He will be in the final group for the first time in a major, another quiet affair with no spectators on the course.

The U.S. Open began with 21 players under par. There were six going into the weekend. Now it’s down to three, with Louis Oosthuizen efficiently putting together a 68 to finish at 1-under 209.

Hideki Matsuyama (70), Xander Schauffele (70) and Harris English (72) were at even-par 210. Another shot back was Rory McIlroy, who posted his 68 some three hours before the leaders finished.

“It doesn’t take much around here … and all of a sudden you’re right in the thick of things,” McIlroy said. “No matter where I am at the end of the day, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good shot.”

It all depends on Wolff, an NCAA champion at Oklahoma State who won on the PGA TOUR in his third event as a pro last summer in the 3M Open in Minnesota.

From the first cut of rough on the opening hole, he hit it to right level of the contoured green for a 15-foot birdie. From the right rough on No. 4, he wound up with another 15-foot birdie putt. And then he really poured it on.

He drove next to the green on the short par-4 sixth, getting up-and-down from a bunker for birdie. He holed a 12-foot birdie on the par-3 seventh. And when he finally hit his first fairway on No. 8, he missed a 6-foot birdie attempt.

His lone bogey came on the 16th when he was in such a bad lie in the rough he couldn’t reach the green. And he finished with a most fortuitous hop. His iron off the tee hopped into the thick rough and back out to the first cut. He ripped 7-iron to 10 feet for one last birdie.

“If I don’t hit fairways tomorrow, I know I can play well,” Wolff said with a smile. “Even when I was in the rough, I had a bunch of good numbers and a bunch of good lies.”

And he played a lot of good golf, so good that even at his age, he looked to be a daunting figure to catch.

“I don’t think there’s any `chasing’ out here,” Schauffele said, adding that if Wolff had another good round Sunday it would be “impossible to catch him.”

DeChambeau gave himself hope, among five players within five of the lead on a course where anything goes. Think back to the last U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 2006, when Geoff Ogilvy hit a superb pitch to 6 feet for par that he thought was only good for second place until Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie closed with double bogeys.

“I feel like I’m ready to win out here and win a major,” Wolff said. “It is a major. It’s really important and yes, it is really early in my career. But I feel like I have the game to win. Collin won at 23. I’m 21. And I’m not saying that it’s going to happen. But I put myself in a really good spot, and obviously I’m feeling really good with my game.”

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