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TORONTO — If the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to have success against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they will have to keep Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak under control.

Game 1 is at TD Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, NESN).

“Heck of a unit, one of the top ones,” Maple Leafs defenseman Ron Hainsey said. “What I struggle with about them is they know where each other are without looking for each other. They have these automatic plays. You think they might do one thing and it’s a no-look pass instead of a one-timer, and it can end up in your net in a hurry. They’re really, really dangerous with that when you can’t predict.”
[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Maple Leafs series coverage]
Hainsey, defense partner Morgan Rielly, and forwards Patrick Marleau, Nazem Kadri and Mitchell Marner, are likely to draw the assignment on most occasions. Hainsey knows that shutting them down will require defensive awareness from everyone.

“Best-case scenario is to keep them out of our zone as much as possible,” Hainsey said. “That’s easier said than done. They’re going to get in our zone sometimes and get some time to make plays but the better we are at using all five guys on the ice to limit the time in our zone, the better we’ll be. If they get time and space, they have the ability to make plays against whoever it is. They’ve proven that over the last couple of years.”

Kadri said Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak each bring a different skill set to the line. Though each player excels in one area, they can all play different roles and that makes them harder to defend.
NHL Tonight: Bruins-Leafs Preview
03:14 • April 9th, 2018

“They have components at all three positions, they all work, their work ethic is great,” Kadri said. “Bergeron does some dirty work and plays with skill. Marchand is a bit of the playmaker with shiftiness and elusiveness, and Pastrnak is the shooter and goal scorer. The thing is though, they all can do each thing, which makes them more dangerous.”

Bergeron and Pasternak each had four points (two goals, two assists) in four games, and Marchand three points (two goals, one assist) in three games, against the Maple Leafs during the regular season. To make his point about their unpredictability, Hainsey referenced a goal Bergeron scored during Toronto’s 3-2 overtime win Nov. 10

Marchand got the puck in the corner at the goal line and carried it along the boards to the hash marks, finding Bergeron with a short pass to the top of the circle for a one-timer. Hainsey said he thought he was close enough to Bergeron to prevent the pass.
Bergeron’s blast opens scoring
00:59 • November 11th, 2017

“I just didn’t think Marchand would put the puck there, but he did and it was in,” Hainsey said.

Hainsey was also victimized on a goal during the Maple Leafs’ 4-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on April 7. Unlike Bergeron’s goal that caught Hainsey by surprise, he read the play properly and knew what was coming.
Petry’s fortuitous PPG
01:00 • April 8th, 2018

“I saw [Canadiens defenseman] Jeff Petry look for the guy at the back door, so I moved my stick there to break up the pass,” Hainsey said. “I ended up knocking it in the net. It was a pretty nice tip for them but that’s beside the point. The (Bergeron line) doesn’t do that. I don’t know where they’re going a lot of the time and it makes it very challenging.”

Kadri did not hesitate to share his strategy to try and contain the Bruins’ top line.

“Aggressive every time,” Kadri said. “Those guys are too good to give them space. There are times where you are going to be a little more passive because you don’t want to get beat one on one, or you don’t want them to spin off you, but there are certain areas of the ice where you can have some forgiveness of that. But usually, it’s about being as aggressive as possible.”

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — No matter what, Yuli Gurriel will not be with the Houston Astros on Opening Day. But the first baseman might not be on the disabled list, either.

After several days of soft-toss batting practice sessions, Gurriel was scheduled to swing against a pitching machine on Sunday.

“These next two days of hitting off the high-velocity machine will be a big test for him because that’s where the resistance will increase and so will his speed,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.

The 33-year-old Gurriel underwent surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand on Feb 28.

Gurriel will remain in West Palm Beach when the rest of his Astros teammates break camp on Sunday. If he continues to progress, he could see time in minor league games in the coming days before rejoining the major league club.

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“It’s the decision of the front office, but I feel pretty good, and the doctors have said my recuperation is going better than expected,” Gurriel said.
Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel underwent surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand on Feb 28. Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
The World Series champion Astros open the season Thursday at Texas.

A .299 hitter who drove in 75 runs last season during his first full year in the majors, Gurriel’s 2018 would have started later than his teammates’ regardless of the injury. Major League Baseball suspended Gurriel for the first five games of this season for his inappropriate gesture directed at Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during the World Series.

Gurriel’s surgery was the only real hiccup in a relatively quiet spring in which Houston went 19-9.

“We didn’t have a perfect camp, but we did have a healthy camp,” Hinch said.

The Astros didn’t appear to lose any momentum in camp.

“We take a lot of pride in the way we play,” shortstop Carlos Correa said. “When we go out there, we try to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spring training game or a regular-season game. We go out there and try to perform to the best of our abilities, and the outcome of that is going to be winning ballgames.”

Houston doesn’t have to officially announce its major league roster until Thursday, but the Astros effectively did so over the weekend by optioning Tony Kemp and Tyler White to the minor leagues and telling J.D. Davis that he will be a member of the Opening Day roster.

“I was close to tearing up over it,” Davis said.

After electing to keep Max Stassi with the major league club, Houston will roster three catchers, but Evan Gattis is expected to serve primarily as Houston’s designated hitter.

“I think when you add the guys we added with the guys we’re bringing back and the experience we all gained from last year, we feel as a team we got better,” catcher Brian McCann said.

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LOS ANGELES — The game was looking scary for the Los Angeles Clippers, a team hanging on to a final playoff spot by the thinnest of margins.

The Orlando Magic, owners of the worst record in the Eastern Conference, led the Clippers by nine points midway in the third quarter. The Clippers, though, had a final push, controlling the fourth quarter and going on to a 113-105 victory over the Magic on Saturday night.

“Tonight was a struggle, you could just see it,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We hung in there long enough, but then in the fourth quarter we got enough stops.”

Lou Williams scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth, including consecutive 3-pointers that finally gave the Clippers some room. Williams leads the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring (7.7 per game).

“Lou made some great plays down the end,” Orlando’s Shelvin Mack said. “He’s very aggressive. He’s my good friend. I play with him all the time. He can go 0 for 20 and he still thinks he’s going to make the next one. He just kept firing.”

The Clippers outscored the Magic 26-16 in the fourth quarter to finally pull away. Tobias Harris added 21 points for the Clippers, and DeAndre Jordan had 15 rebounds and Milos Teodosic added 15 points and seven assists.

“They played lights out,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “You’ve got to tip your cap to them, they’re playing very well. Offensively, we couldn’t stop them during that (fourth-quarter) stretch.”

The Clippers have won four of their last five, while the Magic have lost 11 of their last 13. Orlando fell to 20-47 with the loss.

“People look at the records in the NBA and think, `Oh, you’re going to win,” Rivers said. “It just doesn’t happen. You have to play well to win an NBA game. And we played just well enough.

“Give Orlando credit. They’re out of the playoffs, but they’re making you play hard and not just rolling over.”

The Clippers moved a half-game ahead of Denver and Utah in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot with the win.

TIP-INS

Magic: With F Aaron Gordon out for a second game with concussion symptoms, rookie Jonathan Isaac again started. Some of his teammates want to see him be more aggressive with open shots. “We call them rhythm pass-ups,” Vogel said. “If you execute your offense, the defense is going to react to it, the ball is going to swing and it creates a rhythm shot. If you pass that up, it leads to a worse shot and a one-on-one situation.”
Clippers: Williams leads the team in scoring, mostly as a bench player, but the man Rivers called “lethal” offensively, had oddly hit only 11 of his last 20 free throws entering Saturday. “He’s human,” Rivers said. “It won’t last. I can guarantee that. And one guy who is not worried about it is Lou. I’ve never seen a more lethal, relaxed scorer than him. I mean, nothing fazes him. That’s probably why he’s good.” … The team announced it would return to Hawaii next summer for training camp.

THEODOSIC GOES BIG

The 30-year-old rookie from Europe did not start, but played 31 minutes and helped push the Clippers to victory.

“The thing I love about Milos is, he’s a winner,” Rivers said. “You can feel it. He’s competitive. And in games like these, that’s when he’s at his best. We needed someone to be competitive tonight, and I thought Milos was that.”

UP NEXT

Magic: complete a five-game trip Tuesday in San Antonio.

Clippers: open three-game trip in Chicago on Tuesday.

More AP NBA: www.apnews.com/tags/NBAbasketball

Check out the team sites for the Orlando Magic and the LA Clippers for more game coverage.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Leonard Fournette had one of the best seasons by a rookie running back in Jacksonville Jaguars history. His task in 2018 is to do something that two of the best backs the team has had were unable to do: improve on his rookie season.

Fournette’s 1,040 yards rushing was the second-most by a rookie in Jaguars history — trailing only Fred Taylor’s 1,223 yards in 1998 — and he reached that total despite missing three games. Topping that could be hard, but as the Jaguars’ clear No. 1 back, Fournette has an advantage that Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t.

The Jaguars released Chris Ivory last week, and T.J. Yeldon, Corey Grant and fullback Tommy Bohanon are the only other backs on the active roster who have carried the ball in a game. Barring injury, Fournette is pretty much a lock to hit 250 carries and most likely will top the 268 he had in 2017.

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But if Fournette is going to at least equal his rookie season, there are three things he must do.

Stay healthy: Fournette missed two games because of injury (he was benched for the other because of disciplinary reasons) and battled through a right ankle sprain for almost the entire second half of the season. He topped 69 rushing yards just two times and twice ran for fewer than 35 yards on double-digit carries during those final seven games.

Fournette battled a left ankle injury in his final season at LSU, so he hasn’t played a completely healthy season since 2015.

Have a better understanding of the offense: Fournette said late in the season that his study habits and knowledge of the offense had improved significantly from the early part of the season. It was evident throughout the season that he wasn’t completely sure of what he was supposed to do at times because quarterback Blake Bortles repeatedly had to line him up correctly in the backfield.

See the field better: Fournette is a big (6 feet, 228 pounds), physical back and thrives on contact. Sometimes that cost him additional yards, though, because he seemed reluctant to bounce things outside or cut back instead of just pounding the ball into the line of scrimmage.

There also were times when he missed the hole or tried a spin move that resulted in his turning into the pursuit.

This is related to his transition to the NFL. Everything he tried at LSU worked because he was more talented than the majority of defensive players he faced. He has to adjust his style a bit, especially in terms of the amount of contact he gets, and that takes time.

A year in the offseason conditioning program and going through organized team activities and minicamp in the same offense should help Fournette with all three of those areas. Even so, it’s tough for backs to repeat a 1,000-yard season.

Taylor ran for 14 touchdowns and caught 44 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns in addition to those 1,223 yards during his rookie campaign. A hamstring injury cost him six games the following season, and he finished with nearly 500 fewer rushing yards and caught 34 fewer passes while splitting time with James Stewart.

Jones-Drew ran for 941 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 46 passes for 436 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie in 2006. His stats didn’t dip significantly — he ran for 173 fewer yards and four fewer touchdowns (on one more carry than he had in ’06) and caught six fewer passes — and that’s mainly because Taylor had his only Pro Bowl season (1,202 yards rushing) and he was sharing time.

Taylor and Jones-Drew went on to become the top two rushers in franchise history. Until Fournette, they were the only Jaguars players to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Fournette has gotten off to a good start, but he needs to become a more consistent player in 2018 and beyond to be grouped with those two.,

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This offseason featured many pickups for the Rockies. Especially in the bullpen, as they netted both Bryan Shaw and Wade Davis, two big time players. Now, people are saying (and rightly so), that this bullpen could be one of the best in the league. But, the best piece to this bullpen could be a guy that everyone is forgetting about, and that is Chris Rusin.

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Rusin, at age 31, can do just about everything that a bullpen could need from a reliever. He can get a save if necessary, and he has shown that he can enter the ballgame for any situation, and give his team a chance to win. Not to mention his stats were great last season, as he produced a 2.65 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 85 innings. With a bullpen that looks very strong, they will need that glue guy who is going to piece games together in those bridge innings, and Rusin has shown his capability for this in countless occasions.

Not to forget that he can go for long periods, as he used to be a starter not more than two years ago. He has also caused some deception with hitters due to his varied leg-lifts on his pitches.

He may not be the flashy name, or have the flashy reliever jobs, but he will still be one of the keys to this new and improved bullpen.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Rockies may have transformed themselves into a team that is not going to solely rely on scoring runs this year. This bullpen has a chance to do great things this season, and although he might not be the biggest name, Chris Rusin will definitely have a vital role in it.

NEXT: The Rockies youth could push DJ LeMahieu out after this season
If he can continue the success that he had from last season, teams will have no wiggle room when facing this Rockies bullpen.

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DALLAS — Dennis Smith Jr. scored his first points on a 360-degree dunk before the rookie Dallas guard focused more on the bigger task: trying to slow the high-scoring Washington duo of Bradley Beal and John Wall.

The Mavericks did that Monday night, holding the Wizards guards to 28 percent shooting in a 98-75 victory that completed a two-game season sweep of the Eastern Conference playoff contenders while easing Dallas’ slide back toward to the bottom in the West.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle didn’t want to give his players too much credit, though.

“I thought the defense certainly looks good on paper, but there were an awful lot of missed shots,” Carlisle said. “They had a lot of looks where we weren’t in the best position possible.”

Washington coach Scott Brooks agreed.

“We couldn’t make a wide-open shot, couldn’t make a layup, and we couldn’t even make non-contested free throws,” Brooks said. “It was one of those nights.”

Harrison Barnes had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Smith scored 17 and the Mavericks stopped their second three-game losing streak since the beginning of January.

Barnes, who scored a season-best 31 points in a 113-99 win at Washington in November, was 9 of 16 from the field.

Beal scored 18 and Wall had 11 — the only double-digit scorers for the Wizards — as the guards combined to go 8 of 29 from the field. Beal was 7 of 12 on free throws, and the Wizards were just 16 of 27 from the line.

Wall, who was a game-time decision because of a migraine, missed all four of his 3-point attempts as Washington went 7 of 32 from long range (22 percent) and shot 31 percent overall. The Wizards had their second-lowest point total behind a 116-69 loss at Utah in December.

“It was a little difficult trying to play through it, but there is no excuse for the way we played or how we got our tails whooped,” Wall said.

Dirk Nowitzki had just two points when he converted a four-point play to start the fourth quarter to give Dallas its biggest lead to that point at 75-54.

Nowitzki, who finished with eight points and nine rebounds, hit his 3 before the foul by Mike Scott from the same left corner where Yogi Ferrell connected at the third-quarter buzzer. Ferrell scored 14 points along with Wesley Matthews, who was 4 of 8 from 3-point range.

TIP-INS

Wizards: F Markieff Morris and Brooks got technicals in the first half. Morris was complaining about no-calls on fouls after he was called for one when he knocked the ball loose as Smith was going up for a dunk on a 3-on-1 break. Brooks got his in the final seconds of the half, not long after Morris was called for an offensive foul. … Porter left with a right hip strain and didn’t return.

Mavericks: C Salah Mejri was ejected after getting two technicals when he kept arguing with official David Guthrie despite Matthews trying to push him away. … G Devin Harris is in the concussion protocol and missed the game. He was injured in Saturday’s loss at Portland. … The Mavericks held an opponent to season lows in points in the first half (37) and the game.

UNFRIENDLY WORDS

Dallas guard J.J. Barea got a technical in the second half when he and Wall exchanged words after Barea fouled him in the fourth quarter. Asked about it afterward, Wall said, “It was cool. It was funny. Just a little midget trying to get mad out there. I paid him no mind.”

At first, Barea shrugged off the “midget” comment, but he got slightly more agitated the more he talked about it after the game. “When they ask me who I don’t like in the NBA, I got a guy now,” Barea said. “Nothing new to him. I don’t think even his teammates like him.”

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Smith and Beal ended up with their arms locked after a whistle, and stayed that way for several seconds. It led to a brief exchange, and wasn’t the only time they could be seen talking during the game. “He’s just like all rookies, they hate being called rook from the get-go,” Beal said. “He wasn’t having it, but at the end of the day, that’s the title. We all went through the process at one point.”

UP NEXT

Wizards: At Oklahoma City on Thursday in fourth game of five-game trip, tied for their longest of the season. The teams will finish the two-game season series five days later in Washington.

Mavericks: Host Houston on Wednesday.

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Check out the team sites for the Washington Wizards and the Dallas Mavericks for more game coverage.

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The Jacksonville Jaguars won the AFC South and dominated our postseason awards, but our voters were split: Deshaun Watson or Leonard Fournette for rookie of the year? Here’s how NFL Nation AFC South reporters Sarah Barshop (Texans), Michael DiRocco (Jaguars), Mike Wells (Colts) and Cameron Wolfe (Titans) voted for their division awards:

Coach of the year: Doug Marrone, Jaguars

NFL Nation Division Awards
Division awards NFL Nation reporters vote for the top offensive and defensive player, rookie and coach of the year.

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Marrone took a franchise that had won just 17 games from 2012-16 and guided the Jaguars to 10 victories and the first division title since 1999. He did it with most of the players from last year’s 3-13 team, too (16 of the 22 starters). All season long, players have talked about how Marrone changed the culture inside the building by making winning the top priority. That sounds strange, but former coach Gus Bradley’s philosophy was to emphasize the process over the result; if players worked to be their best, victories would follow. Marrone also believed the team lacked some toughness, so he subjected his players to a mentally and physically exhausting training camp that they initially grumbled about — until the season began with a 29-7 rout of Houston. The Jaguars beat seven teams by more than 20 points (no other team did that more than four times), led the NFL in rushing and pass defense, and finished second in scoring defense, takeaways and sacks. — DiRocco

Offensive player of the year: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

The Texans’ season crashed after Watson suffered a torn ACL in early November, but Hopkins still put up eye-popping numbers. He led the NFL with 13 touchdowns catches and finished fourth with 1,378 receiving yards. His 91.8 receiving yards per game were second only to the Steelers’ Antonio Brown. Hopkins did all this with Watson playing only seven games (six starts). Hopkins may have challenged for the NFL’s receiving title if the rookie quarterback had not been injured. Hopkins’ eight-catch, 224-yard performance in Watson’s last game of the 2017 season showed their potential as a tandem. The good news for Hopkins is Watson should be back in 2018. Hopkins edged out Fournette, who was the consistent focal point of the AFC South champion Jaguars offense but didn’t make the splash that Hopkins had this season. — Wolfe
Despite missing three games, Leonard Fournette ranked eighth in rushing yards (1,040). Logan Bowles/Getty Images
Rookie of the year: Deshaun Watson and Leonard Fournette

Watson was having a historic season before his knee injury during an early November practice. In seven games, six of which he started, Watson threw for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns. At the time of his injury, he was tied with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz for most touchdown passes in the NFL, and he was on pace to shatter the rookie record for TD passes. Although the Texans were just 3-3 in games that Watson started, Houston scored 71 combined points in two games, both losses, against the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. After Watson’s injury, the Texans went 1-8.

 

The Jaguars entered the season expecting to lean heavily on Fournette after deciding to go with quarterback Blake Bortles for at least another year. For most of the season, the Jaguars’ offense went through Fournette, although he dealt with injuries down the stretch and his production dipped. Even though Fournette missed three games with injuries and a suspension, he still finished the season ranked eighth in rushing yards, second only to Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt among rookies. Fournette finished the season with 268 carries for 1,040 yards and nine rushing touchdowns, and he had five games with at least 100 yards on the ground. — Barshop

Defensive player of the year: Calais Campbell, DE, Jaguars

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Campbell showed he was worth the four-year, $60 million contract the Jaguars gave him to leave the Arizona Cardinals by spearheading the NFL’s second-best defense. Campbell finished second in the league in sacks with a career-high 14.5. This season was the first that Campbell reached double digits in sacks in his 10-year career. “You have to stay balanced and be aggressive with him if you expect to have a chance,” an opposing offensive lineman said about Campbell in a recent ESPN story. “If you’re leaning, he’s already got you beat.” The Colts and Texans felt Campbell’s wrath more than any other teams in the league. He had six sacks in two games against the Texans and three against the Colts. Campbell’s presence allowed for cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, arguably the best cornerback duo in the league, to be aggressive in the secondary because they knew the quarterback wouldn’t be able to hold the ball in the pocket for an extended period of time. Also making Campbell’s season impressive is that he had his career year at the age of 31, when players are supposed to be on the decline. — W

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PITTSBURGH – The Bruins are looking forward to their league-mandated, five-day bye week. But they know they have some business to take care of tonight in Pittsburgh before they get to settle in for some much-needed R&R.

“We have five days off after this, leaving on a high note – you don’t want to be thinking about a game that you let slip away for the next five days,” Riley Nash said following an optional morning skate at PPG Paints Arena. “Just sticking with it, doing what we’ve been doing. We’ve been playing well, all the lines have been playing hard.”

The Black & Gold will be attempting to extend their points streak (8-0-2) to 11 games when they take the ice against the Penguins on Sunday night. But the players don’t seem worried about the bye week throwing a wrench into their torrid stretch.

“I think everyone needs the rest. You can look at it anyway you want,” said Nash, who tallied his fifth goal of the season in the B’s 7-1 win over Carolina on Saturday night. “If a team is struggling, it comes at a good time, if you’re doing well it comes at a bad time. It’s just the way you look at it. All in all, I think we can keep it up.

“Over the Christmas break we obviously came back and still played good hockey. I think we’ve shown that after a couple days off we can do it.”
The bye week will be the second of three extended breaks for the Bruins within a month’s span. Boston also had three days off for the holiday break and will have three more at the All-Star break later this month (Jan. 26-28).

“It’s always good to get rest in the middle of the year,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “It’s going to be the second of three in a short period of time. I think for me, it they’re spaced out a little better it’s probably more effective for the players. But it is what it is.

“We’re going to get on feeling good about our game. That’s the good news. And hopefully come back re-energized because we’ve got a lot of hockey. We’re a little behind with our schedule.

“Again, hopefully the guys do take it for what it’s worth and come back ready to go.”

Opposing View

Boston took the first matchup with the Penguins the day after Thanksgiving with a 4-3 victory at TD Garden. David Pastrnak potted the winner five minutes into the third on a breakaway.

Pittsburgh has been up and down since that meeting, posting a 10-9-0 record. The Pens are 5-5-0 over their last 10 and sit 1 point behind Carolina for the East’s second wild card spot.

Cassidy noted the two-time defending champions’ potent special teams as the focus for the B’s this evening. Pittsburgh is first in the league on the power play (25.8%) and 11th on the penalty kill (82.1%).

“Very good special teams. You think of their power play all the time, but their penalty kill is pretty good too,” said Cassidy. “If you can keep it to a 5-on-5 game it plays into our benefit because I think we’re very strong there, our special teams are good as well.

“We’re not going to shy away from that. I think that would be more to their strengths, so hopefully we have the discipline to stay out of the box, check with our feet, good sticks and see where it leads us.”

Question Mark Up Front

Bruce Cassidy said there is one question mark among the forward group, which will be a game-time decision. Cassidy did not specify which player he was referring to, but Ryan Spooner missed the second half of Saturday night’s third period.

“He went off. He missed probably the last 10 minutes. I have no update. I don’t know if I would keep him out of the lineup tomorrow,” Cassidy said following the win over the Hurricanes.

Pasta Snaps Skid

David Pastrnak snapped his 10-game scoreless streak on Saturday night with a one-time power-play blast off a feed from Patrice Bergeron. The 21-year-old winger also notched two assists.

“Obviously it’s nice,” said Pastrnak. “It was a good PP and good battles there and a nice play by Bergy, so it felt nice to get it in…I wasn’t thinking about it until you guys told me – I had no idea. Obviously it’s been a while, but those things happen and it’s normal. It was a lot of help that we were playing really good.”

Wait, There’s More

Tuukka Rask will make the start between the pipes. He is 11-0-1 over his last 12 games.
The Bruins held an optional pregame skate on Sunday morning. Bergeron and Spooner were among a small contingent that took the ice.
Boston’s five-goal first period against Carolina was their first such period since a five-goal third against Philadelphia in 2011.
Kevan Miller posted a plus-4 rating on Saturday night, while notching an assist on Riley Nash’s fifth of the year early in the first period. The blue liner was on the ice for three of Bergeron’s four goals.
Sean Kuraly won 10 of 11 faceoffs against the Hurricanes.

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry stood among the coaches during a third-quarter timeout pleading his case to keep playing, and Steve Kerr relented — after a brief chat with the training staff, of course.

And who could blame Curry? He was feeling it after waiting weeks to get back on the floor, even missing the marquee Christmas Day matchup against LeBron James and the Cavs.

“Third quarter, it was a quick look to him and I literally said `no way, no way,” the two-time MVP said. “… It felt like the first day of school again, for real.”

Curry made a sensational return from injury by scoring 38 points with a season-high 10 3-pointers, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies 141-128 on Saturday night with an energy and spirit that had been missing much of this month without him.

Curry shot 13 for 17 and 10 of 13 from deep in just shy of 26 minutes for his ninth 30-point game this season after missing 11 games with a sprained right ankle. His mere presence brought an energy to the Warriors and all of Oracle Arena, and he spent much of the fourth quarter pacing, gesturing in delight while cheering his teammates with a towel draped over his head.

Kevin Durant added 20 points, nine assists and five rebounds, and Klay Thompson scored 21 points as the Warriors wrapped up nearly three weeks at home in California. Zaza Pachulia scored a season-best 17 points and also had eight rebounds and six assists.

“It wasn’t just him,” Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Curry. “You look up and they’ve got guys that can make shots all over the floor. They were making shots that were contested.”

Marc Gasol led six Memphis players in double figures with 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting.

With his parents, wife and two daughters in attendance, Curry got his first points on a layup at 10:27 that put the Warriors out front 7-0 and led to a Memphis timeout. He hit a 3-pointer at 9:52 before Memphis scored its first points.

Curry received roars from the sellout crowd during pregame introductions, and Durant threw his right arm into the air to cheer his pal’s comeback.

In the game’s closing minutes, Curry hit a 3-pointer, held his follow-through and jubilantly hopped up and down on his left foot. At other moments, he pounded his chest. This marked Curry’s ninth career game with 10 or more 3s, most by any player in NBA history.

“I was feeling pretty good. I think me and him had an understanding where the minutes would kind of fall as the game would go on and I would give him feedback how my body was feeling, and I felt amazing and it was me just saying that, I really did,” Curry said of convincing Kerr he could stay in. “He gave me that extra minute and a half and I made a shot, so it paid off.”

Curry was all smiles during pregame warmups. He hoisted his signature tunnel shot, signed a few quick autographs when daughter Riley arrived to greet him and briefly held his arm around her before turning around to do his customary hallway sprint. His little girl cleared the way, and off her dad went to the locker room.

He’s healthy at last — and it showed immediately.

Kerr had hoped to play his star 20-25 minutes, and Curry hit another 3 just 30 seconds after conferring with the coaching staff during that timeout with 4:36 left in the third.

“Everything just looks better,” Kerr said. “The food in there is going to taste better tonight. My wife’s going to be even better looking than she already is. My kids are going to be happy. Steph, he has that impact.”

Memphis lost here 97-84 on Dec. 20, then watched the Warriors match their season high for points in a half this season by leading 78-67 at the break to the delight of the fired-up crowd.

“The energy was amazing tonight honestly, probably it was because of Steph,” Pachulia said. “Tonight was a total difference, so I guess they were waiting for Steph to come back.”

GREEN GETS TOSSED

Draymond Green was ejected with 9:45 left in the second quarter after a second technical foul in a 43-second span. Both were for arguing.

The emotional forward has been ejected twice this season.

Green had five assists and three points in 10 minutes.

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: The Grizzlies’ 67 first-half points were their most in any half this season, while Golden State’s 78 matched the most points ever allowed in any half by Memphis — with Golden State also scoring 78 on March 24, 2010, on its home floor. … The Grizzlies are one of two teams along with San Antonio to own a winning regular-season record vs. the Warriors since the start of the 2011-12 season at 13-12. … Memphis completed a strange stretch in which it played at Golden State on Dec. 20, at Phoenix the following night, home on Dec. 23, back to Phoenix on Tuesday, in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Wednesday then returned to Oracle Arena on Saturday.

 

Warriors: The Warriors’ 141 points are the most scored against the Grizzlies ever by any opponent. … Golden State’s 14 first-quarter assists — for 40 points — were one shy of the franchise record of 15, done three times. … The Warriors improved to 8-0 after a loss this season. Golden State is 40-7 since 2014-15 following a defeat. … The Warriors went 13-2 in December and finished 5-2 on this season-long homestand. The 13 December victories match the franchise’s most wins in the month during their West Coast Era, also done last season.

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: At Sacramento on Sunday.

Warriors: At Dallas on Wednesday after playing seven games at home over the past 11 days.

Authentic NFL Washington Redskins Hoodies Youth Cheap

The Washington Redskins’ final two 2018 opponents added to their schedule include one team with a top quarterback coming off an injury and another team that might have a new coach.

Every team has 14 games already locked in place and only two are based on where a team finishes. The Redskins’ final two spots included the common place finisher in the NFC West and the NFC North.

Therefore, the Redskins will play at Arizona and host Green Bay. The latter is a tricky opponent because the Packers likely would not have finished third had Aaron Rodgers not missed nine games because of an injury. Otherwise, Washington would have hosted Detroit, who may or may not be playing for a new coach. The Packers and Lions play in the season finale and could actually end up tied. But Detroit won the first meeting and owns the better division record and would therefore finish second regardless of the outcome.

As for Arizona, the Cardinals also might have a new coach. Even if Bruce Arians returns, Arizona might need a new quarterback. Carson Palmer turns 38 on Wednesday and will be coming off an injury. So there are questions about the direction of the organization. It’s best that Washington faces Arizona rather than the other three teams in the NFC West. The 49ers, with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, are a hot team and could be much improved in 2018. But they’ll end up in last place this season.

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The Redskins’ other 2018 home opponents: Dallas, Philadelphia, New York Giants, Carolina, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Houston.

Their other road opponents: Dallas, Philadelphia, New York Giants, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Tampa Bay.

As of right now, the Redskins’ 2018 opponents have a combined record of 120-120. Five have four wins or less; five have 10 wins or more. But the true strength of schedule comes as the games unfold and not months before the season begins.