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13 August, 2018

The Monday Morning Quarterback

Ice Cube Defends Dak Prescott's Patriotic Stance on National Anthem Protests

[ PHOTO: INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW ]


Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (shown above right) is one of a handful of NFL athletes who refuse to protest the national anthem.

“It’s bigger than … some of us think. I mean, it’s just important for me to go out there, hand over my heart, represent our country, and just be thankful. And not take anything I’ve been given and my freedom for granted,” he has said about his respect for the national anthem and the American flag.

It may be a patriotic stance that many fans will celebrate, but it has earned Prescott some angry responses from leftist celebrities.

On his radio show, comedian D.L. Hughley compared Prescott to a slave — and actually used the word “boy” to describe him.

 
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The Monday Morning Quarterback

Trump Reignites Feud with NFL Protesters

[ PHOTO: BREITBART SPORTS ]
August 13, 2018
Dave Boyer, The Washington Times 


President Trump is reigniting his feud with the NFL over players protesting during the national anthem, a topic that he considers a political winner just as the midterm elections are heating up.

After several players knelt or raised fists at the start of preseason games on Thursday, Mr. Trump went on the attack.

“The NFL players are at it again — taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem,” the president tweeted. “Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define.”

He said the NFL should fine players who disrespect the flag.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE WASHINGTON TIMES


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The Monday Morning Quarterback

How Close did the Rangers Come to Landing Wayne Gretzky in 1988?

[ PHOTO: SPORTS ON EARTH ]
August 13, 2018

NOTE: This story was originally written for and published on August 9, 2018.


Today is the 30th Anniversary of Wayne Gretzky's trade from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings.

Gretzky was traded to LA for a package that included Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three future first-round (traded to NJ for Corey Foster, Marty Rucinsky, Nick Stajduhar) draft picks and $15 million.

Reports from the New York Times in 1988 indicate that Rangers GM Phil Espositio was approached by Edmonton GM Glen Sather about Gretzky at the draft that June.

The Oilers said that they approached the Rangers because their owners at the time, Gulf and Western, "could afford him."

Espositio said at the time that he was interested in Gretzky but that once they started discussing terms he lost interest.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM SNY


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Jets and Redskins Brawl at Joint Practice

[ PHOTO: FOX NEWS ]
August 13, 2018
Andy Vasquez, The Record


RICHMOND, Va. — There was no shortage of intensity as the Jets and Redskins met for their first joint practice on Friday.

The trash talk was incessant. There was widespread pushing and shoving. And there were two brawls that broke out, with one of the fights briefly spilling into a spectator area.

Both incidents involved the Jets defense and the Redskins offense, who were practicing on a field near the vast majority of fans. No players or fans appeared to be hurt in the dustups.

In the end, a torrential downpour, not fighting, cut practice short by about 15 minutes. But Jets coach Todd Bowles was obviously not pleased about the incidents.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE BERGEN RECORD

 
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The Monday Morning Quarterback

Eagles Add Former Penn State QB Hackenberg

[ PHOTO: THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER ]
August 13, 2018
Nick Fierro, The Morning Call
  

Former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg on Sunday signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, who have released center Ian Park in a corresponding move to make room for Hackenberg on the roster.

A former second-round pick of the New York Jets, Hackenberg’s pro career stalled almost immediately following a roller-coaster ride at Penn State.

Hackenberg has no regular-season game experience in the NFL. He spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the Jets.

The Jets shipped him to Oakland for a conditional draft pick this past May. However the Raiders released him less than a month later.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE ALLENTOWN MORNING CALL

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Brooks Koepka Holds off Tiger Woods to Win PGA Championship

[ PHOTO: NEW YORK POST ]
August 13, 2018
Tod Leonard, Los Angeles Times 


The fist pump for the birdie at the 18th hole was demonstrative, but didn’t have the same ferocity as the celebration a decade ago at Torrey Pines.
 The result was not a major triumph, but a significant step in an extraordinary comeback.

Tiger Woods didn’t win the PGA Championship on Sunday, but it sure felt that way for much of a loud and raucous day at Bellerive Country Club.

When Woods closed out his best score in the final round of a major — a six-under 64 — with a birdie on the 72nd hole, he left the green like a hero on parade. As he crossed the bridge to the scoring room, thousands cheered him from below. Woods answered with a simple thumbs up.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

 
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Sabathia Brilliant for Yankees in Win Over Rangers

[ PHOTO: THE STAR LEDGER ]
August 13, 2018
Charles O'Brien, Associated Press

NEW YORK — CC Sabathia threw six shutout innings of one-hit ball, Giancarlo Stanton homered for the fifth time in six games and the New York Yankees defeated the Texas Rangers, 7-2, on Sunday.

Didi Gregorius also homered and turned in a nifty defensive play for New York, who won for the sixth time in seven games.

Joey Gallo had two hits for Texas, who dropped three of the four games in the series. He also reached over the left-field wall to take a home run away from Austin Romine in the eighth.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE

 
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22 May, 2018

The Monday Morning Quarterback

Devils Legend Lamoriello Joins Islanders Front Office

[ PHOTO: NEW YORK POST ]
May 22, 2018
Vin A. Cherwoo, Associated Press


NEW YORK (AP) — Longtime NHL executive Lou Lamoriello joined the New York Islanders on Tuesday and will have full authority in all hockey matters.

The 75-year-old Lamoriello will hold the title of president of hockey operations. Son Chris Lamoriello has been the team's assistant general manager since 2016.

He comes to a team that has missed the playoffs eight of the last 12 seasons. Recalling the team's glory days from a generation ago, Lamoriello said he is "excited to join such a storied franchise."

It was not immediately clear how the move will affect current president and general manager Garth Snow. He has four years left on his contract. Lamoriello's hiring was first reported by The Athletic, which said Snow's deal has a "steep buyout."

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT


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21 May, 2018

The Monday Morning Quarterback

The Giants Should Pay Odell Beckham Now

[ PHOTO: NEWSDAY ]
May 21, 2018
Steve Serby, New York Post


The message from the top has been received by Odell Beckham Jr., and the Giants’ organizational decision to Win Now — to sign Nate Solder, to trade for Alec Ogletree, to pass on Sam Darnold, etcetera and draft Saquon Barkley — means you can take it to the bank that they will Pay Now.

Pay Beckham now.

And that will be music to Barkley’s rookie ears.

Barkley, labeled a gold-jacket guy by Giants GM Dave Gettleman, was asked whether his future partner in crime is a gold-jacket guy.

“You look at Odell, what he’s done the last four to five years, how he impacted the game, the culture of the game and impact on the field, it’s a no-brainer,” Barkley said.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE NEW YORK POST



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Justify Wins 143rd Preakness Stakes, Goes for Triple Crown at Belmont

[ PHOTO: NEW YORK POST ]
May 21, 2018
Stephen Whyno, Associated Press


BALTIMORE — Justify keeps showing something new each time he races.

In the Kentucky Derby, he showed he could run in the mud in a crowded, 20-horse field. In the Preakness, he showed he could withstand the challenge of a top rival pressing him early and hold off others before the finish line — also in the mud

For his next trick, he’ll need to show he can endure the grueling 1½-mile Belmont in New York on June 9. And it he does that, Justify will become horse racing the second Triple Crown winner in four years.

“If you’re a superior horse, you can do it,” trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday. “I’ve seen horses go a mile and a half and they never won again. It’s a weird, quirky race, but I don’t see why though he wouldn’t handle it.”

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE

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15 May, 2018

The Monday Morning Quarterback

NHL WCF: Vegas Wins Game 2, Golden Knights, Jets Head to Sin City Tied at 1

[ PHOTO: VICTORIA TIMES COLONIST ]
May 15, 2018


WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Jonathan Marchessault changed the dynamic of the Western Conference Final with two backhanded flicks of his stick.

The Golden Knights’ forward backed up his words with a pair of goals and helped the Knights take home-ice away from the Winnipeg Jets in a 3-1 win that evened the series at one game apiece. 

Momentum and the series now shifts for the Knights to Game 3 at 6 p.m. Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena.

“We showed the hockey world we have earned the right to be here,” Marchessault said. “We’re definitely satisfied with our effort. Everyone showed up.”

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL



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NBA WCF: Durant Leads Warriors to Game 1 Win Over Rockets

[ PHOTO: SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE ]
May 15, 2018
Kristie Rieken, Associated Press



Kevin Durant continues to deliver in the postseason for the Golden State Warriors.

He scored 37 points on Monday night to lead the Warriors to a 119-106 win in the long-awaited showdown with the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

But if it were up to him, he would have done even more.

Durant wasn't happy with coach Steve Kerr when he took him out in late in the third quarter and loudly asked his coach why he was putting him on the bench.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM ABC NEWS

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The Monday Morning Quarterback

Manning, Giants Settle Memorabilia Fraud Lawsuit

[ PHOTO: NEW YORK DAILY NEWS ]
May 15, 2018
A.J. Perez & Art Stapleton, USA Today


A settlement has been reached in the long-running lawsuit that alleged New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and the team conspired to pass off fake game-worn memorabilia.

The Giants said a settlement had been reached in a statement to USA TODAY Sports Monday night. 

"The compromise agreement, entered into by all parties, should not be viewed as supporting any allegations, claims or defenses," Giants spokesperson Karen Kessler said in an email. "All parties are grateful to have the matter, which began in 2014, concluded and are now focused on football, the fans and the future."

The trial was set to begin in Hackensack, N.J., on Monday with jury selection, but was pushed back to next week due to a death in the family of one of the attorneys.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM USA TODAY


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14 May, 2018

The Monday Morning Quarterback

Sports Betting Coming to New Jersey as Supreme Court Rules in Favor of State(s)

[ PHOTO: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ]
May 14, 2018
Stephen Edelson, Asbury Park Press

OCEANPORT - The seven year legal battle is finally over, and sports betting is coming to New Jersey.
Monday’s favorable ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court paves the way to allow gambling on sporting events at racetracks and casinos in the state.

“I am thrilled to see the Supreme Court finally side with New Jersey and strike down the arbitrary ban on sports betting imposed by Congress decades ago,'' Governor Phill Murphy said.

“New Jersey has long been the lead advocate in fighting this inherently unequal law, and today’s ruling will finally allow for authorized facilities in New Jersey to take the same bets that are legal in other states in our country.



CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE STORY FROM THE ASBURY PARK PRESS

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NBA ECF: Celtics Dominate Cavs in Game 1

[ PHOTO: THE BOSTON GLOBE ]
May 14, 2018
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald


In past postseasons of the Brad Stevens era, the Celtics have basically melted in LeBron James’ presence. Heading into yesterday they were 1-8, consistently falling to a Cleveland star at the peak of his powers.

But that’s what is funny about this year’s Celtics.

“We have a lot of guys that really just don’t care,” said Marcus Smart. “Our whole life we’ve been fighting. Bigger opponents than us, and playing LeBron and that Cavs team is great — they’ve been here for a reason. We have talent as well — we’re fearless.”

There was a lot of money on the end of that bench in street clothes, including $48.9 million just between Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. But as the Celtics have shown repeatedly this season, no one has spent a lot of time worrying about all of those untapped funds.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE BOSTON HERALD

 
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NHL ECF: Capitals Heading Home with Commanding 2-0 Series Lead Over Lightning

[ PHOTO: USA TODAY ]
May 14, 2018
Matthew Paras, The Washington Times


TAMPA — The Capitals could have blamed a lousy call from the referees, or even used Nicklas Backstrom’s hand injury as an excuse. On Sunday, there were plenty of moments when it might have been understandable if Washington had allowed the Tampa Bay Lightning back into the series.

But these Capitals didn’t let up. They didn’t relax. And now, with a 6-2 win in Game 2, they return to the District with a commanding 2-0 series lead — halfway to moving on to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Sunday’s contest turned late in the second period when Lars Eller scored from the slot to put the Capitals up 3-2.

Seconds later, Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was called for tripping forward Andre Burakovsky, and — like Alex Ovechkin’s one-timer in Game 1 — the Capitals took advantage of a penalty with time winding down. This time it was center Evgeny Kuznetsov who fired a shot at the net that deflected off Vasilevskiy and slipped under the goalie and into the net.


CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE WASHINGTON TIMES

 

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Mark Reynolds Goes Yard Twice in Washington Debut as Nats Sweep D-Backs Aside

[ PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON TIMES ]
May 14, 2018
Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic


Torey Lovullo isn’t usually the overly nostalgic type, but the seventh inning on Sunday brought back memories for the Diamondbacks manager. It harkened him back to a simpler time, an era when his offense could score and his team could win.

“Yeah, the good old days,” Lovullo said, a half-smile on his face. “You know, of 10 days ago.”

The Diamondbacks lost for the fifth consecutive time on Sunday evening, dropping a 6-4 decision to the Washington Nationals, who, one day after becoming the first team to win a series this season against the Diamondbacks, became the first to sweep them, doing so over four games at Chase Field.


CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC


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deGrom Exits Early, Mets Bullpen can't get Job Done Against Phillies

[ PHOTO: THE BERGEN RECORD ]
[ PHOTO: THE BERGEN RECORD ]
May 14, 2018
Tim Healey, Newsday



PHILADELPHIA — Mickey Callaway needed nearly a complete game from his bullpen Sunday, and he got it. It just wasn’t a very good game.

In the Mets’ 4-2 loss to the Phillies, four relievers combined to allow four runs, four walks and eight hits in seven innings after Jacob deGrom lasted only one.

Paul Sewald (0-3) coughed up the lead in the sixth on a three-run homer by Nick Williams. Jeurys Familia allowed Carlos Santana’s solo shot to center in the eighth.

“It was the wrong pitch in the wrong location,” Sewald said. “Down and in to a lefty is not where it’s supposed to be. I wasn’t tired or anything like that.”
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Braves Top Sinking Fish 4-3

[ PHOTO: MIAMI HERALD ]
May 14, 2018
Field Level Media, Gwinnett Daily Post


Sean Newcomb pitched six scoreless innings and Ender Inciarte slugged a two-run homer as the Atlanta Braves held on to beat the Miami Marlins 4-3 on Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park.

Miami had just one hit -- a double by Brian Anderson -- entering the ninth. But after singles by Starlin Castro and J.B. Shuck, Justin Bour hit his third pinch-hit homer of the season, cutting Atlanta's lead to 4-3.

Braves reliever Jesse Biddle allowed the two singles before making way for Arodys Vizcaino, who gave up the upper-deck homer by Bour. However, Vizcaino retired Miami's final three batters to pick up his seventh save of the season.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE GWINNETT DAILY POST


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Red Sox Hold off Blue Jays to Stay Tied for First

[ PHOTO: BOSTON HERALD ]
May 14, 2018
Peter Abraham, The Boston Globe


TORONTO — Red Sox manager Alex Cora knew before Sunday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays that he would not have Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith available out of the bullpen.

Kimbrel had pitched in three of the previous four games, Smith in five of the last six. And the Sox don’t have a scheduled day off until May 21.
What was a small problem became a big one when starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz couldn’t get an out in the fifth inning and was pulled after 103 extra-tedious pitches.

The Sox had a one-run lead and limited means to protect it.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE


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Orioles Stay Hot, Rout Rays 17-1

[ PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST ]
May 14, 2018
Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun


The Orioles’ early-season tumble to the worst record in the major leagues was predicated by a bunch of patchwork lineups that were necessitated by injuries and inconsistency.

Now, just seven games into this nine-game homestand, the Orioles have put together their best stretch of baseball this season. Yes, it’s a reflection of how poorly this club played before this stretch, but out of nowhere, the Orioles are scoring runs in bunches and finally look more like their complete selves, and their 17-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays was an example of that.

The club has unquestionably benefited from the return of middle-of-the-order bats Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo. But it is also now suddenly a team that is better able to put its pieces where they belong, and it’s resulted in recent wins.
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Stanton's 4-for-4 Day Leads Yanks Over A's on Soggy Mother's Day at the Stadium

[ PHOTO: NEWSDAY ]
May 14, 2018
Peter Solari


Once the rain finally subsided on Mother's Day, the Yankees brought the thunder!

After a nearly three hour rain delay at Yankee Stadium, Giancarlo Stanton went 4-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs, as the Yankees rolled to a 6-2 victory over the struggling Oakland A's Sunday to complete a 7-2 home-stand. New York has now won seven straight series', and remains tied with the rival Red Sox for the best record in baseball at 28-12.

"I'm really excited where we're at, but it's a long, long way to go," manager Aaron Boone said of his Yankees, after the game.

Coming up with the bases loaded in the first inning, Stanton got his day started by delivering a two-RBI single off Oakland starter Brett Anderson, scoring Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge. Aaron Hicks added his first of two RBIs on the day with a single later in the inning, giving the Yankees an early 3-0 lead.

[ VIDEO CREDIT: YES NETWORK ]

After adding a second single in the third inning, Stanton launched his 10th homer of the season into the bullpen in right-center field in the fifth, making this the first time in the Yankees' historic history that four players have have at least 10 home runs in the first 40 games. Only the 2003 Texas Rangers, with Juan Gonzalez, Carl Everett, Alex Rodriguez. and Rafael Palmeiro, had accomplished that feat until now. Judge, Didi Gregorius, and Gary Sanchez are the other Yankees with double-digit home runs this season.


[ VIDEO CREDIT: YES NETWORK ]

Staff ace Luis Severino continued his winning ways by battling through six tough innings, striking out seven and surrendering just one run on five hits, to improve to 6-1 and tie the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, Corey Kluber of the Indians, for the league lead in wins.

"Talk about grinding through it," Boone said of his starter. "Proud of his effort on not necessarily his best day. That's why he's become a really special pitcher."

Stanton capped his day in the seventh inning by slugging a double into left field for the 999th hit of his career, leaving him one short of a milestone. The Bronx Bombers' key offseason acquisition is now batting .252 with 10 homers, 26 RBIs, and a .339 OBP in his first season in the Bronx, much of which has been a struggle for him.

Judge's RBI single in the eighth, which scored Miguel Andujar, accounted for the rest of New York's scoring.

For the A's. who have now lost five of six, a Jed Lowrie RBI single off Severino in the fifth, and a late Mark Canha home run off Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve, were all the runs they could muster.

After a day off on Monday, the Yankees will return to action Tuesday when they open an eight game road trip in our nation's capital against Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals. Here are the expected pitching matchups for the two-game series in DC:

Tuesday May 15, 2018, 7:05 PM, Nationals Park, Washington, DC
NYY: Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.66 ERA) @ WSH: Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 2.22 ERA)


Wednesday May 16, 2018, 7:05 PM, Nationals Park, Washington, DC
NYY: CC Sabathia (2-0, 2.23 ERA) @ Max Scherzer (7-1, 1.61 ERA)

BONUS:

Watch Dellin Betances channel his inner-ninja with an amazing behind-the-back stab to rob a hit in the eighth inning on Sunday. Video courtesy of the YES Network.


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13 May, 2018

The Monday Morning Quarterback

Hamilton Cruises to Victory in Spanish Grand Prix as Mercedes Finishes One-Two

[ PHOTO: THE GUARDIAN ]
May 13, 2018
Associated Press



Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton easily won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday for his second straight Formula One victory, increasing his championship lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

Valtteri Bottas secured a one-two for Mercedes at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, while Max Verstappen completed the podium despite finishing the race with a broken front wing on his Red Bull.
Vettel, who now trails Hamilton by 17 points in the drivers' standings, was only fourth after a change in strategy didn't pay off.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

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08 May, 2018

The Monday Morning Quarterback

Golden Knights' Cinderella Story Continues with Trip to Conference Final

[ PHOTO: THE OKLAHOMAN ]
May 8, 2018
Kevin Allen, USA Today

  
If you placed a $100 bet on the expansion Vegas Golden Knights when they were listed at 500/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, you'd have no confusion about who to root for in the NHL playoffs.

The Golden Knights moved a step closer to this unlikely occurrence when they knocked off the San Jose Sharks 3-0 in Game 6 Sunday night to win their second-round series and earn a trip to the Western Conference final. They even caught a break Sunday when Nate Schmidt was awarded a goal that originally was missed by on-ice officials but was caught after the fact on replay.

Vegas will face the winner of the Winnipeg Jets-Nashville Predators series, which the Jets lead 3-2 heading into Monday's Game 6 in Winnipeg.

Even if you have no money riding on the Golden Knights, here are five reasons why you should root for them to win the Stanley Cup:

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM USA TODAY

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The Monday Morning Quarterback

Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Capitals-Lightning

[ PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST ]
May 8, 2018
Roger Mooney, Tampa Bay Times
It was fitting the Capitals, tormented for so long by the Penguins, were the team to put an end to the Penguins' Stanley Cup reign.

Their reward: A date with the top-seeded Lightning in the Eastern Conference final.

The best-of-seven series will be the third postseason meeting between the two teams. The Lightning won both, taking the 2003 Eastern Conference quarterfinal in six games and the 2011 conference semifinal in four.

History, however, means little to the Caps, who snapped a streak of seven-straight postseason series losses to the Penguins that dated back to the 1995 conference quarterfinal. Not this year, anyway.

The Caps advance to their third conference finals. They beat the Sabres in six in 1998 before being swept by the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals. In 1990, the Caps were swept by the Bruins in the ECF.

The Caps reached this round after beating the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins on Monday in Pittsburgh 2-1 on an overtime goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE TAMPA BAY TIMES

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Caps Eliminate Pens, Move on to East Finals

[ PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON TIMES ]
May 8, 2018
Will Graves, Associated Press


PITTSBURGH (AP) — A cathartic celebration 20 years in the making began with a poke of Evgeny Kuznetsov's stick. It built as the puck that Kuznetsov tapped away from Sidney Crosby made its way to Washington Capitals teammate Alexander Ovechkin.

It neared its crescendo as Ovechkin flipped it back to Kuznetsov, who at this point had split two Penguins and was streaking toward the Pittsburgh net. And it culminated jubilantly and unexpectedly in the corner moments later, with the puck in the net and Kuznetsov's teammates mobbing him after he ended two decades of frustration with a flick of the Russian's wrist.

The ghosts of past playoff failures, many of them at the hands of the Penguins, were gone. Dispatched over the course of six games of grit and guile, the last a 2-1 overtime win in Game 6 on Monday night that gave Washington a 4-2 series victory and a spot in the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay.

"It's pretty emotional," Kuznetsov said after his seventh goal of the playoffs 5:27 into overtime pushed the Capitals into the NHL's final four for just the third time in franchise history. "I don't really have a word for it."

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY FROM THE NEW JERSEY HERALD

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