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#1 11/10/18 07:51:05

zhangzk
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Registered: 12/10/17
Posts: 74

You can feel the speed

Jon Cooper walked into the locker room and didn’t get the sense Lightning players were down in the dumps about losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference final.

”It was more kind of like an anger of like we want to get back – like let’s get Game 3 going here Adidas Jeff Skinner Jersey ,” Tampa Bay’s coach said.

Game 3 on Tuesday night in Washington can’t come soon enough for the Lightning, who are in a historically difficult spot after losing twice at home to open the series.

Of the 41 previous times a team lost the first two games in the conference finals, 39 went on to lose the series – including every team that lost its first two at home.

”For us, it’s all about resetting everything,” defenseman Victor Hedman said Monday. ”There’s no panic. We’re obviously not happy with losing two games on home ice, but that is not something that goes into our locker room.

”We’ve got the experience. We’ve got the guys that are in the playoffs for the first time, guys have been through this, and we’re capable of handling that.”

The Lightning under Cooper haven’t lost the first two games of a series since 2014, when they were swept in the first round by Montreal. That was a learning experience players could point to when they went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, but right now it’s just an ugly deficit.

It is the same deficit the Lightning erased against the Capitals in 2003.

”If you just look where you stand in the series, I feel like it’s a big mountain to climb,” said former Lightning captain Martin St. Louis, who was on that team. ”They got to focus on just winning the next game. And I truly believe if they do that, it’s going to be a long series.”

After not allowing Boston to score an even-strength goal in the final three games during the second round, Tampa Bay has been outscored 7-1 by Washington at even strength and 10-4 overall.

Asked what the Lightning needed to do better, three-time Cup-winning defenseman Ken Daneyko responded, ”Where do we begin?”

”They were so responsible defensively, making good puck decisions and through the first two rounds they didn’t give up a whole lot,” said Daneyko, now an NHL Network analyst.

”Just mental breakdowns, mental mistakes by Tampa Bay. You never know why it turns so drastically like that when they were so sound against the Bruins. That can’t happen.”

Mistakes are happening in abundance, most notably passing up shots that lead to opportunities the other way. And ill-timed penalties late in periods have led directly to Capitals power-play goals, which definitely can’t continue happening if the Lightning want to make this a series.

”We need to do a better job of not getting in that situation, not letting two games in a row, 7 Luke Glendening Jersey , 8 seconds left on the power play and they get one,” defenseman Dan Girardi said. ”That’s something we can definitely control ourselves.”

As clinically as Tampa Bay eliminated New Jersey and Boston in five games apiece, Washington is rolling behind the scoring of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and the goaltending of Braden Holtby, who has stopped 52 of 56 shots through two games.

The Capitals are feeling confident right now, but after falling behind 0-2 on home ice in the first round and roaring back to beat Columbus, they understand how fast things can swing.

”We’re off to a heck of a start, but we’ve got to take care of business at home,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. ”If they win one or two here, boy, the momentum switches big time.”

For the Lightning to win one or two games, they’ll need to get better production out of captain Steven Stamkos and winger Nikita Kucherov and better play out of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who hasn’t been at his best.

”He’s going to have to be great,” said Keith Jones, a former NHL forward and current NBC Sports analyst. ”He’s being challenged to look through traffic and stay up. … Vasilevskiy’s going to have to play unbelievably well unless the Capitals take a step back.”

If the Lightning can’t figure out how to fix many of their problems from the net out, it’ll be a short series. Cooper sounded confident of a turnaround.

”There’s a really good group of guys there,” Cooper said. ”They’ve got a ton of experience and when their backs have been against the wall, they’ve shown a propensity to fight back. This is a tough one. We lost two at home and it’s definitely not an ideal situation. But we’re not done. It’s not over.”

NOTES: Capitals coach Barry Trotz said C Nicklas Backstrom, who has missed three consecutive games with a right hand injury, remains day-to-day. … Washington D Michal Kempny was fined $2,419 – the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement – for cross-checking Lightning F Cedric Paquette during Game 2.


LATROBE, Pa. (AP) Artie Burns and Joe Haden don’t believe the Pittsburgh Steelers have a clear-cut No. 1 cornerback.

The two feel they share that role.

Haden has been a top cornerback in the league throughout his career and Burns, a 2016 first-round pick, feels like he’s starting to come into his own as he enters his third season. The two hope a full offseason and training camp together can help a young group of Steelers defensive backs regain some swagger.

”Right now, I’m just trying to show him the way I go about my business,” Haden said. ”Training camp is one of the biggest spots where we can see growth and we can see what the offseason did.”

Haden spent his first seven pro seasons in Cleveland. He feels an entire spring of organized team activities and minicamp with Burns and the Steelers will only prove beneficial as the team works through training camp and the preseason.

”I’m trying to understand the whole defense John Tavares Jersey , not just the corners and safety, but also the linebackers and defensive linemen,” Haden said. ”I’m just trying to get the whole system from the ground up and get an overall grasp of the defense.”

Cleveland released Haden on the eve of the 2017 regular season and the Steelers immediately acted. They quickly signed the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback with the hope he could give a young secondary an instant jolt.

”Having a veteran guy in your room that got to the level everybody wants to get to,” Burns said, ”you kind of sit back and think that you can learn from him to get to that point.”

The Steelers did just that last season.

Pittsburgh ranked 16th against the pass in 2016, but Haden provided a necessary boost as the Steelers ended fifth in passing yards allowed. A 45-point outburst by Jacksonville in the AFC divisional playoff marred an otherwise strong season.

”I think the communication was the biggest thing for us, just no blown coverages,” Haden said. ”In the Jacksonville game, there were a couple times where people were just running free. We have the ability, we have the players, we just have to be on the same page and make sure everybody’s covering their man.”

That has been the focus for Burns. He has carried a noticeably different, more confident swagger during training camp practices. He’s still locked into regular one-on-one practice battles with four-time All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, a daily matchup Burns welcomes.

”Ever since I got here it’s been a battle with (Brown),” Burns said. ”It’s just something I expect from myself. I don’t even request it. I just step up, we go at it and go to work.”

It has already paid off for the third-year cornerback.

Burns jumped Brown’s slant route during the team’s first padded practice and picked off Landry Jones’s pass in the end zone. He also jumped a Ben Roethlisberger pass and came up with an interception that would’ve been returned for a touchdown.

Burns said that sort of intuition comes with experience.

”You can feel the speed of the receiver,” Burns said. ”A play can only go for so long, so once you figure out the timing of it, that’s when you have a chance to make a play on the ball.”

Burns seeks similar game-changing plays alongside Haden in the secondary this season.

”(Haden) is helping us in certain situations that he has already been put in before,” Burns said. ”That’s what Joe is doing for us.”

NOTES: Coach Mike Tomlin said Brown was sent to Pittsburgh to be evaluated for a ”minor, day-to-day” injury. Brown missed the previous two practices with his undisclosed injury. Tomlin wouldn’t say what sort of injury. … S Morgan Burnett (hamstring), Sean Davis (groin), T.J. Watt (hamstring), Vance McDonald (foot) and Alejandro Villanueva (undisclosed) also missed practice on Thursday.

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