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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:31 am 
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WASHINGTON (AP) The Stanley Cup Final is a block party for the Washington Capitals.For all of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s points on offense and Braden Holtby’s saves in net [url=http://www.officialmapleleafsproshop.com/authentic-adidas-nazem-kadri-jersey]Nazem Kadri Jersey[/url] , the Capitals are one win away from blocking their way to the Cup. They’ve gotten in front of almost a third of the Vegas Golden Knights’ shots, blocking with enough smarts and precision to take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 Thursday.”There’s more to blocking shots than just going out there and trying to get hit,” Holtby said. ”We’re doing a great job of creating the right layers, guys going out there strategically to know which lane I’m picking for sight lines and they’re taking away the other half and making big blocks.”Washington is blocking in quantity and quality in the final, 86 total, in limiting Vegas to 124 shots on Holtby – many of which he’s seeing and stopping . Even star captain Alex Ovechkin is blocking shots as he gets closer to tasting his first championship.”You see `O’ jumping in front of shots, it makes everyone on the team want to do the same,” winger Devante Smith-Pelly said.Blocking shots is a team-wide commitment right now and comes from a season’s worth of skaters, goaltending coach Scott Murray, Holtby and Philipp Grubauer getting on the same page. The goalies have worked on making sure they can see past blocks to give players the confidence to get in front of pucks.And in return, Capitals players study opponents’ tendencies and consciously decide when to try to block a shot and not so Holtby isn’t at a disadvantage.”You obviously don’t want to cross in front of him,” center Jay Beagle said. ”You don’t want to become a screen. So if you miss the block, which happens, guys are good at shooting pucks and stuff, you want it still so from your standpoint you didn’t hinder Holts’ view.”Defensemen have an understanding of which half of the net is their responsibility and which half is Holtby’s. Forwards closer to the blue line have to react quickly, take the right angle and get to the shooter.”If guys have time and space, they’re going to be able to sift one through,” Smith-Pelly said. ”For the forwards, it’s just going out there pretty hard and just getting in the way.”The amount of shots the Capitals have blocked through four games seems to be getting in the Golden Knights’ heads. They’re struggling to get quality shots through and resorting to settling for lower-danger scoring chances.”If you’re going to take shots, make sure they pay a price for blocking those shots,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. ”Shoot it harder.”Capitals coach Barry Trotz doesn’t want his players thinking too much about blocking shots or hesitating. He doesn’t care much about Ovechkin’s blocking form or the philosophy of shot-blocking as long as it keeps the puck out of the net.”If you’re positionally sound, if you’re in shot lanes, block the shot,” Trotz said. ”It’s all about will.”And that will can turn into skill. Washington has been comfortable and confident enough in the final to push the puck up ice quickly, and a well-timed block shot can set the table for an odd-man rush.”The less shots they have, the more opportunities we’re gonna have in offensive zone,” defenseman Dmitry Orlov said. ”Sometimes when you block it, you get quicker pass and you jump on the rush and you got 3-on-2 or 4-on-3.”The Golden Knights by this point are well-aware of that. But they don’t really have a solution.”You just have to – I don’t know – defensemen, puck fake, maybe move around, or maybe look for a guy off to the side, or put it off the end wall [url=http://www.bruinsshoponline.com/authentic-danton-heinen-jersey]Danton Heinen Jersey Kids[/url] ,” forward Alex Tuch said. ”There are a bunch of different plays that could happen and when they’re blocking shots they’re getting momentum from it, and if they’re blocking shots and having odd-man rushes that’s even worse. ”In addition to a suffocating neutral-zone trap that’s not easy to play but has frustrated opponents for four rounds, the Capitals have embraced a shot-blocking-when-it-matters mentality.”It’s not exactly fun, but you got to do if you really want to win,” Smith-Pelly said. ”Everyone is on board with doing those things.”—More Stanley Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/StanleyCupFinals— The Boston Bruins bolstered their chances of contending for the Stanley Cup with a bold move, acquiring Rick Nash from the New York Rangers a day before the NHL trade deadline.”Our players have made a push and I wanted to inch that along if we could and reward it in a way,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said.Boston added the veteran – one of the best available – in a market filled with players in the last season of their contracts and put him in the lineup Sunday night against the Buffalo Sabres.The 33-year-old Nash had 18 goals and 10 assists this season with the Rangers and his first point with the Bruins will be No. 800 in his career. Perhaps most importantly for Boston, the 6-foot-4, 211-pound winger adds much-needed size up front and makes its second line even more formidable.”I think it sends a message that management feels that we’re a real good hockey team and he’s going to make us better,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. ”Where that leads, you can only speculate, and I don’t want to go there now because it’s not even March.”NHL teams, both buyers and sellers, have until 3 p.m. EST Monday to make a deal.Teams toward the top of the standings, or on the bubble, may add a veteran with an expiring contract in exchange for prospects and picks. Franchises out of the playoff race are hoping to get anything they can to potentially help their future in exchange for players they may not re-sign in the summer.”The standings dictate who the buyers and sellers are at the trade deadline,” said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, whose team will probably miss the playoffs for a second straight year.The Rangers, without a doubt, are rebuilding. They’re in eighth, and last, place in the Metropolitan Division with slim chances of extending their postseason streak to eight years.Nash didn’t fit into New York’s future plans as he played out the final season of an eight-year deal for $62.4 million he signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. And, the franchise got a return for its asset instead of letting him go for nothing as an unrestricted free agent in July.The Rangers received Boston’s first-round pick this year along with forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey, defenseman Ryan Lindgren and a seventh-round pick next year.Like Boston, Toronto has a comfortable cushion to earn one of the Atlantic Division’s three guaranteed spots in the playoffs and they’re not satisfied with that.The Maple Leafs added 35-year-old Tomas Plekanec and prospect Kyle Baun from Montreal in a multiplayer deal. Plekaneck has six goals and 24 points this season with the Canadiens and 605 points in his career, which was spent entirely with them.The Canadiens, on the verge of missing the postseason for the second time in three years, gave up a Czech forward for a second-round pick this year along with prospects Rinat Valiev and Kerby Rychel.”It’s 15 years of my life” Plekanec said. ”It’s my home. My kids go to school here. Their first language basically is French, but now I’m going to Toronto and there’s going to be playoff hockey and having a chance to play for the Stanley Cup.”After advancing to the Stanley Cup last year, the Nashville Predators were busy the day before the NHL trade deadline.The defending Western Conference champion Predators acquired Brandon Bollig and Troy Grosenick from San Jose for a sixth-round pick this year. They also traded forward Pontus Aberg to Edmonton for forward Mark Letestu and then dealt him to Columbus for a fourth-round pick.—


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