Trending Topics: With home ice squandered, Capitals face tough questions

The morbid beatdown the Bruins administered in Games 1 and 2 is a kind of heartbreaking that comes at you early and leaves you demoralized, but I don’t think it’s quite what the question-asker had in mind.

What’s happening to the Capitals very much is.

In Game 1, the Caps went up 2-0, cheap official nfl jerseys blew that lead, went ahead again early in the third period, blew that lead on a bad penalty, and lost early in overtime on a what-can-you-do goal from a star talent.

In Game 2, they went up 2-0 and then 3-1, blew that lead, scored a late game-tying goal, then lost midway through the first overtime period on a bang-bang play.

That’s two home games in which the Caps either held a third-period lead or scored a late equalizer to give the fans hope, only to snatch it away in overtime in consecutive games. This is, however, nothing all that new. In the Barry Trotz era, the Caps are 6-9 in overtimes, which is a lot of overtimes to play in six-plus rounds over four seasons. And fully half of those wins came in last year’s seven-game series against the Leafs, during which five of the six games went to OT.

After blowing home ice and heading to Columbus for Tuesday’s Game 3, the Caps’ problems beyond making their fans type “I want to die” into various social media text as a sort of rite of spring are coming into clearer focus. It is, in fact, the same old tune played by the same old band.218

To look at the Caps’ underlying numbers, you understand that they are great. Basically every non-goal 5-on-5 percentage is between 53 and 55, despite trailing for just 12 minutes in this series so far (and by the way, they’re 0-2 despite trailing for 12 minutes). But also, they’ve only scored two goals at full strength to the Blue Jackets’ five, all from at least middle-danger parts of the ice.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Caps don’t seem to cheap nfl jerseys cheap shipping be able to convert even the large amount of high-danger scoring chances they generate into actual goals on the scoreboard. They’ve taken 22 shot attempts from in close to the goaltender, and allowed just eight. The conversion rates there? A stunning 37.5 percent from the Jets (three goals on eight attempts) versus a not-so-stunning-if-you-watch-them-in-any-playoffs 0 percent for the Caps (zero on 22).


Manchester City Reportedly Avoid Transfer Ban After Benjamin Garre Investigation

Manchester City have reportedly avoided a two-window transfer ban following an investigation into the signing of Benjamin Garre.

As reported by James Ducker of the Daily Telegraph, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has been looking into the acquisition. Argentinian club Velez Sarsfield complained that City tried to lure Garre, now 17, away from them when he was 15 before signing him days after his 16th birthday.

However, according to Matt Lawton and Jack cheap nfl jerseys Gaughan of the Daily Mail, City will not be sanctioned after CAS gave the Premier League champions indication on Tuesday that the case will be thrown out.

If CAS had ruled in favour of Velez, then City would’ve been unable to register players for their squad for the next two windows.

“FIFA had upheld City’s argument that Garre was free to join them after his 16th birthday because he holds an Italian passport, but Velez alleged that FIFA rules only allow players under 18 to move between clubs in European countries,” added Ducker. “Velez also took the world governing body to CAS after they rejected an initial complaint from the South American club in September 2016.”170

Ducker noted that all parties involved were expecting an outcome in the case by March, although the complex nature of the deal means a verdict has been delayed.

As noted by Soccerway, Garre has made 13 appearances for City in Premier League 2 this season, scoring three goals.

According to Lawton and Gaughan, manager Pep Guardiola is keen to add two or three new players to his squad this summer after the team clinched the Premier League title last weekend.

And despite some fears about a two-window transfer ban,cheap nfl authentic jerseys it appears as though City will be able to strengthen their title-winning squad once again.

In recent years, other massive clubs have been hit with transfer bans by FIFA. Barcelona were the first major side to face one, as they were unable to register new players in January 2015 and the following summer.


Dez Bryant Cut by Cowboys in Meeting with Jerry Jones

The Dallas Cowboys reportedly released wide receiver Dez Bryant on Friday.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Todd Archer reported Friday that the Cowboys planned to part ways with Bryant barring a “change of heart” following a meeting between nfl jersey free shipping the wideout and team owner Jerry Jones. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport later reported Bryant had been released and noted the meeting was short.

The 29-year-old originally signed his five-year, $70 million contract after the 2014 season, which featured a first-team All-Pro selection and an NFL-best 16 touchdowns. He produced 41 total touchdowns from 2012-14 while averaging 1,312 receiving yards per season.

His production hasn’t been the same over the past three years, however, averaging just 678 yards per season. He missed 10 games due to injury during this stretch and totaled just 17 touchdowns.

This caused plenty of speculation about Bryant’s future with the team considering his exorbitant cap hit.

The Cowboys added receivers Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson in the offseason, and while the team said at the time they weren’t replacing Bryant, per David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, it appeared to be the beginning of the end for him.

“We’re going to be grinding it out and trying to determine what is in the best interest of our business,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said of the receiver in February, per Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram.

Even while Jones acknowledged he wanted Bryant to remain with the team, he also said he needed to have a conversation with the receiver about his contract, per Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram.

It seems the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, so the three-time Pro Bowler will enter free agency.

There should be a sizable market for Bryant, who, wholesale nfl jerseys free shipping even with his recent struggles, is still a game-changing player in the red zone. A short-term contract to rebuild his reputation could certainly be possible.


Reuben Foster Won’t Participate in Offseason Workouts

The San Francisco 49ers will hold linebacker Reuben Foster out of offseason team activities, the team announced Sunday.

“[Foster] will not participate in team activities as he is tending to his legal matters,” 49ers CEO Jed York, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan said in a statement, nfl jerseys cheap china free shipping per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. “As previously stated, his future with the team will be determined by the information revealed during the legal process.”

Police arrested Foster in February on allegations of domestic violence, and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday it was bringing charges, including felony domestic violence, against him.

In an official statement, the district attorney’s office said Foster’s live-in girlfriend was bruised and suffered a ruptured eardrum. The girlfriend also told authorities Foster “dragged her by her hair, physically threw her out of the house, and punched her in the head eight to 10 times.”

Shortly after the charges were announced, the 49ers said they had been made aware of Foster’s situation but indicated he’d remain with the team. Foster’s status with San Francisco “will depend on what is learned through the legal process,” according to the 49ers (h/t Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports).

NFL Network’s Jim Trotter reported the NFL wouldn’t place Foster on the commissioner’s exempt list until the league wraps up is own investigation into the allegations. As a result, nfl jersey free shipping it was up to the 49ers as to whether he would participate in any offseason workouts.


Cristiano Ronaldo joy, Gianluigi Buffon woe define wild night in Madrid

One crazy minute, at the end of an incredible Champions League quarterfinal second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, perfectly summed up the contrasting fortunes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gianluigi Buffon in club football’s most prestigious competition.

Buffon, the perennial Champions League fall guy, the Juventus veteran with three runners-up medals making his 117th and last appearance in the competition,nfl jerseys cheap shop is sent off by referee Michael Oliver for protesting against the awarding of a stoppage-time penalty. And Ronaldo, the man with four Champions League winners medals in his pocket, is given the chance to not only mark his 150th appearance with his 120th goal from the penalty spot but also to salvage a place in the semifinals for Real Madrid by extinguishing Juventus’s sensational fight-back.

Buffon, who angrily confronted Oliver after he penalised Mehdi Benatia for a clumsy shove on Lucas Vazquez, was off the pitch and down the Bernabeu tunnel by the time Ronaldo guided his spot-kick beyond helpless substitute goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to make it 4-3 on aggregate to Real in the dying seconds.

It was brutal on Juventus, who had stunned the European champions by cancelling out the 3-0 first-leg lead built up by Real in Turin just eight days ago. Massimiliano Allegri’s team had seemingly pulled it out of the fire with two goals from Mario Mandzukic and one from Blaise Matuidi to level the aggregate score. From there, Juve were looking strong enough to go the distance by winning the tie in extra time. But along came Ronaldo, the ultimate glory boy, to cast Buffon into retirement with his one last chance of Champions League glory snuffed out in the most dramatic and cruel circumstances.

This was in the impregnable Bernabeu, and Juve should have had no chance. Yet the Italian champions were 2-0 up on the night by half-time thanks to Mandzukic’s double and Real were awful.

Gareth Bale, making a rare start for Zidane’s team, was substituted at the break due to his anonymous first-half display, one that may signal the beginning of the end for the Wales international in Madrid. But Bale was not alone in not being able to put one foot in front of the other for the Spanish giants. nfl shop free shipping All of Zidane’s players, Ronaldo included, produced their worst performance for months or maybe even years as Juventus won every challenge and created every chance.


Ideal Opponent: Oklahoma City Thunder

Though the Thunder own a 1-1 split with the Rockets this season (they’ll meet for the third and final time on Saturday), this is still a matchup Houston should be hoping it gets.

No potential Western Conference playoff team allows a higher percentage of opponents’ shots to come from beyond the arc than the Thunder, according to Cleaning the Glass.nfl nike jerseys stitched And if you’ve paid attention to the 2017-18 season for more than five seconds, you’re probably aware that the Rockets like to get those threes up.

Houston is on pace to set an NBA record by taking more than half of its attempts from deep.

Maybe Paul George gives the Thunder a fighting chance against James Harden in one-on-one matchups, and maybe Steven Adams can help slow down Clint Capela’s roll game. But the Thunder have been horrible at defending the exact shots the Rockets love.

Unless OKC completely changes its personnel and schemes—a list of to-do items would include playing smaller, removing Carmelo Anthony from the starting and closing units, and convincing Russell Westbrook to defend more than once every five possessions—this feels like a three-fest Houston is destined to win easily.

We won’t do this for everyone, but there are sure to be “why not Team X?!” cries in light of Houston’s excellent marks against just about everybody in the West. The Rockets are 4-0 against both the Jazz and Wolves, for example.

But three of those wins against the Jazz came before Rudy Gobert spurred Utah’s dominant run in late January, so we can’t fairly judge Houston against this version of the Jazz. And we’re going to say some bleak things about the Wolves in a bit, so they catch a break by ducking mention here.

From a pure matchup perspective, there are lots of pushover opponents for the Rockets. nike authentic nfl jerseys cheap That’s what happens when you’re the best team in the league. Oklahoma City just happens to feature a particular weakness that plays into the Rockets’ hands.


Barcelona’s slow start, sloppiness vs. Sevilla can provide hope for Roma in UCL

The 53 seconds between Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi’s goals in Seville on Saturday managed to disguise what had happened during the previous 87 minutes.

With less than three minutes to go at the Sanchez Pizjuan, Barcelona were two goals down against Sevilla and were about to lose their first league game of the season. discount authentic nfl jerseys By the time the match clock read 88:12, though, they were level. Suarez had bundled home from a corner and a half-fit Messi, brought on with half an hour to play with his side two behind, curled home from outside the box.

It was that crazy minute which deservedly took the headlines as Barca remained on track to become the first-ever side to go through a top-flight season in Spain unbeaten. But it was the previous 87 minutes which will give the Catalan side’s Champions League rivals hope.

Solid would be the standout word on a word cloud visualising Barca’s season (maybe only behind Messi) so far but they were anything but that against Sevilla. After an even opening first half an hour, they were exposed time and time again at the back, through the middle and on the counterattack.

Sevilla ended the game with 21 shots and only sloppy finishing prevented them from killing the match off at 2-0 as they created chance after chance. Their expected goals (xG) at the end of the game was 2.95. Barca’s was 1.79.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde pretty much admitted his side got lucky.

“We don’t concede many but conceding the second goal so soon [after half-time] affected us,” he said in his postgame news conference. “We weren’t able to control their counter-attacks. That’s not happened to us before this season. That unbalanced us, we had problems.”

Valverde’s job before Wednesday’s game against Roma is to find out why his side looked so off colour. They’ve only conceded 15 goals in 30 league games this season (including the Sevilla match) and just two in their eight Champions League outings, but Saturday’s performance was a throwback to last season’s heavy European defeats against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.


It could just have been a hangover from the international break, although there are other theories, too. Tiredness, being one, with key players rarely rested in a season discount nike nfl jerseys which has already seen Barca play 48 games including the Spanish Super Cup. Sergio Busquets and Messi (until the hour mark) were also missing and centre-backs Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti were not at their best.


‘Mad at the world’: David Price hopes he’ll never have another season like 2017

As David Price left Vanderbilt in 2007, lured by a $5.6 million signing bonus after being drafted first overall by Tampa Bay, his college pitching coach offered a few parting words.

“The thing I said to him that I really meant was, ‘You never need to change the way that you play this game,’” nfl jerseys for cheap Derek Johnson recalled recently. “He played it like a little kid, and it was easily, by far and away, the most beautiful thing about him.”

For the better part of the next nine years, Price heeded that advice. He boiled over with glove-smacking joy after hurling high-90s heat past helpless hitters. He challenged fellow pitchers to goofy contests such as the “perfect sit,” in which they found a spot on the bench and tried not to get up, not even to use the bathroom, for nine innings. When he played for the Detroit Tigers, Price rode an electric scooter to and from home games. With the Toronto Blue Jays, he gifted monogrammed blue bathrobes to his teammates.

Then came last year. In his second season with the Boston Red Sox after signing a $217 million contract, Price’s behavior changed. He berated a reporter after a game at Yankee Stadium, stopped talking to the Boston media except after he pitched, and confronted Dennis Eckersley on the team plane over an innocuous comment made by the Hall of Famer as part of his job as a television analyst.

Price’s perma-smile turned into a frozen scowl, his personality morphed from childlike to churlish, setting a negative tone for a young Red Sox team seeking veteran leadership in the aftermath of David Ortiz’s retirement.

Looking back, Price traces most of what happened to a spring-training elbow injury.cheap nfl jerseys He didn’t make his first start until Memorial Day, returned to the disabled list in July and made only 11 starts. For the first time in his career, he was scared for his health, and the anxiety seemed to get the best of him.


Jim Irsay should feel confident Andrew Luck’s shoulder has ‘turned the corner’

It’s understandable if there is some hesitation to fully believe what Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said about quarterback Andrew Luck during the NFL’s owners meetings on Monday in Orlando, Florida.

Irsay told reporters that “all indicators are healing is going really well” in nfl jerseys for cheap Luck’s continued rehabilitation from his January 2017 right shoulder surgery.

“We feel optimistic that he’s turned the corner and has a full decade ahead of him of excellence,” Irsay added.

That’s where the hesitation with Irsay comes.

Remember, Irsay said on more than one occasion in 2017 that he thought Luck would be fine. The owner said shortly after the surgery that his franchise quarterback would be ready for the start of last season. Irsay talked about the topic again during the owners meetings at this time last year, and during an event at Butler University in June 2017 he referred to Luck’s surgery as a “simple labrum repair.” He even went as far as saying, just nine days prior to the start of the regular season, that he hoped Luck would play in Week 1 — despite the quarterback’s not having practiced in more than eight months. Luck ended up missing the entire 2017 season.

You know what?

Irsay and the rest of the Colts organization should “feel optimistic” that Luck has “turned the corner” in his rehab. Irsay, a person who can be over the top in his optimism at times, was being positive last year and saying what he hoped would happen with his quarterback’s rehab.

This year is different because there’s a firm belief throughout the organization that Luck will be ready for the 2018 season.cheap nfl jerseys The optimism increased once Luck returned from his six-week trip to the Netherlands to rehab his shoulder and went to southern California to work with throwing experts.

Colts GM Chris Ballard, who you can argue has been the most cautious when talking about Luck’s health status, said during the NFL scouting combine that he has no doubt that Luck will play in the coming season. It was also during the combine that Ballard said Luck will participate in the team’s offseason workouts, which start April 9.


Cubs front office gets last laugh in prank war with Tommy La Stella

The Chicago Cubs’ front office may have just had the last laugh in an ongoing prank war with back-up infielder Tommy La Stella after team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer had first baseman Anthony Rizzo record a wholesale nfl jerseys message that was played on the video board during the Cubs’ sold-out spring game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.

Rizzo implored the crowd to help find a “life partner” for La Stella while making fun of him for not being very social and having poor hygiene.

“Tommy is really, really lonely,” Rizzo said. “It’s really kind of sad. He’s desperate and really needs to find a life partner. We want to help Tommy find love.”

The front office got the last laugh by showing a graphic of La Stella’s real cell phone number minus the last two digits. They ended the video with a lasting message.

The prank war began early in spring when La Stella parked in Epstein and Hoyer’s private parking spots at the Cubs’ practice facility, then escalated when the front office replaced La Stella’s uniform with office attire. La Stella was forced to wear khaki pants during infield drills one day. nfl jerseys from china He promptly cut the pants with scissors to give him more room in the crotch area.

A few days later La Stella had a bouncy house for kids blown up and put in the execs’ parking spots before the front office retaliated on Friday.