TAMPA Steelers Game Jerseys , Fla. — Four games into the Eastern Conference final, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals are tied 2-2, but getting there hasn’t been anything as expected.
The road team has won all four games, with Washington dominating its way to a 2-0 lead in Tampa, only to see the Lightning pull back even with two road wins themselves.
The Capitals are 7-1 on the road and 3-5 at home in the playoffs, so do the Lightning really have an advantage with two of the remaining three games at Amalie Arena?
“It seems like in this series, the pressure shifts on the home team,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, whose team is 5-1 on the road in the playoffs against the New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins and Capitals. “The big, glaring 0-4 is staring at you. Home-ice advantage has been a disadvantage in this series. Having said that, I’d rather have Game 5 at home. I believe we’ll be a different team than we showed up in Games 1 and 2.”
In a battle of division winners Glover Quin Jersey , the Lightning are in the conference final for the third time in four years and the Capitals are here for the first time in 20 years.
Which will be the advantage to push one team to the Stanley Cup final?
Capitals forward Tom Wilson said the advantages of home ice are lessened in the playoffs, when both teams have ample energy and intensity because of what’s on the line.
“It doesn’t really matter this time of year, whether you’re home or away,” Wilson said after the Game 4 loss. “Every game is huge and the emotion is going to be there. Road, home, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to go after it and hopefully get the next one.”
Special teams have been at the center of Tampa Bay’s turnaround, as well as stellar play in net from Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning have gone 6 of 14 on their power play in the series, improving on the success rate for what was the NHL’s best power play in the regular season.
Even more impressively, Tampa Bay’s penalty kill, which ranked in the bottom five of the league in the regular season, went 7 of 7 on killing off Capitals power plays in the last two games. Three of those came in the final eight minutes of the first period Thursday night, as Tampa Bay held onto a 2-1 lead.
Steven Stamkos has dominated on the power play — six of his seven postseason goals and six of his nine postseason assists have come on that unit http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/darren-woodson-jersey , matching Nikita Kucherov for the team scoring lead with 16 total points each.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin both have 10 goals to pace the Capitals, who now have the confidence that comes with playing on the road.
Tampa Bay tied for the NHL lead with 25 road wins in the regular season, but it will need to win a home game to win this series. Overall in the playoffs, road teams are 40-34, on pace to challenge the NHL record for most postseason wins by a road team — 47 in 2012.
For fans of the Minnesota Vikings, at least the ones old enough to drive, there’s a score to be settled with the New Orleans Saints.
Eight years ago, the last Minnesota team considered a strong Super Bowl contender was on the verge of victory in New Orleans in the NFC championship game despite four earlier turnovers inside the raucous Superdome.
That was until the infamous 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty with 19 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter pushed the Vikings out of field goal range and preceded Brett Favre’s ill-fated throw across his body that was intercepted by Tracy Porter to force overtime and steer the Saints toward the franchise’s only title. The bitterness in Minnesota toward the team in black and gold only increased two years later when an NFL investigation concluded then-New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams encouraged a bounty system designed to financially reward players for hitting and injuring Favre.
There’s only one player, defensive end Brian Robison, who’s still around from that season, however. That painful stumble at the end of the most important game the Vikings have played in almost two decades doesn’t mean much at all to the guys on the 2017 roster.
”We just have to come out and play our game, regardless of who’s mad at who for whatever reason http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-sebastian-janikowski-jersey ,” wide receiver Jarius Wright said.
Head coach Mike Zimmer was actually sitting in the seats that evening, with his defensive coordinator duties for Cincinnati on break with the Bengals already eliminated from the playoffs. His son, Adam Zimmer, was an assistant linebackers coach for New Orleans that year.
”I was just sitting there observing. I wasn’t really rooting for anybody or anything like that,” Zimmer said, before revealing his drink of choice on Bourbon Street that day: ”I had some of those hurricanes.”
For these Vikings, the Saints simply represent their first obstacle to being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its home stadium. They had to wait until the very end of their bye week to find out who they would be facing in the divisional round game, with the Saints topping the Carolina Panthers 31-26 in New Orleans on Sunday night.
”I think they understand the magnitude of where we’re at in the playoffs and that New Orleans is a heck of a football team,” Zimmer said on Monday afternoon, when the Vikings reconvened for preparation.
The Vikings beat the Saints 29-19 in the season opener , when Sam Bradford was their quarterback and Dalvin Cook was the running back for an offense that took full advantage of a young defense trying to get set. The Saints also still had Adrian Peterson in their backfield then, before trading him to the Arizona Cardinals and clearing space for rookie Alvin Kamara to elevate his role next to Mark Ingram.
”From the first time we played them to now http://www.jaguarscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-blake-bortles-jersey , it’s totally different,” Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes said.
For both teams, really. September was so long ago.
”I would expect that they’ve kind of grown into their own identity now,” Saints linebacker Manti Te’o said. ”I don’t expect to see the same team that we saw Week 1, and I know they don’t expect to see the same team they saw in Week 1, too.”
Bradford has resumed practicing, but he likely will remain on injured reserve this week with Teddy Bridgewater backing up Case Keenum at quarterback.
”We’ll just take our time,” Zimmer said of Bradford’s status, ”and see how it goes.”
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