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It sure looked as if Alex Ovechkin was slowing down http://www.jetsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-chris-herndon-jersey , at least by his standards.
This time a year ago, Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals were limping away from another early playoff exit. His 16 even-strength goals in the regular season tied for the lowest of his career. Injuries limited him to five goals in 13 playoff games.
Then a funny thing happened. Coach Barry Trotz took time from visiting his son in Russia to meet with Ovechkin and talk about changing and evolving his game at age 32. Time doesn’t stop, not even for the greatest goal-scorer of his generation. Trotz and general manager Brian MacLellan wanted more goals, better foot speed and for their cornerstone player to take care of his body to be able to handle more time on the ice.
”That’s just life: You have to change, you have to grow,” Trotz said. ”He was motivated to show everybody that he still is a great player in this league.”
Ovechkin led the NHL with 49 goals in the regular season, 15 more in the playoffs as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner and showed in his 13th season he could lead his team to the Stanley Cup. Ordinarily a team would be running out the clock on the final three seasons of a 13-year deal with a player of his age, but now Ovechkin is a Stanley Cup champion and there is no telling how much more the big forward can do in his NHL career.
”Was tough time, but we fight through it and we get result,” Ovechkin said. ”It’s just something special. I don’t know. I’m just very excited and I’m very happy right now.”
Hours after the Russian superstar lifted the Cup on the ice in Las Vegas http://www.texansauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jordan-akins-jersey , President Donald Trump devoted his first tweet of the morning to Ovechkin and the Capitals.
”Congratulations to the Washington Capitals on their GREAT play and winning the Stanley Cup Championship,” Trump tweeted . ”Alex Ovechkin, the team captain, was spectacular – a true Superstar! D.C. is popping, in many ways. What a time!”
Ovechkin likely hadn’t gone to sleep when the tweet was delivered at 4:12 a.m. Las Vegas time and he retweeted it. Next week, Ovechkin will be the star in a parade down Constitution Avenue six months after Trump on inauguration day and this summer will take the Cup back home to Moscow.
After that, the next challenge starts. Ovechkin last summer adjusted his training methods in Russia, and he seemed rejuvenated when came back to the Washington area.
Now he has to do it all over again with a happily shorter summer.
”As you’re getting older, we’re going to have to train a little different so you become the athlete you always have been, because these young kids can absolutely fly http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jalyn-holmes-jersey ,” Trotz said.
Ovechkin looked like he was flying all season, from seven goals in his first two games to one on the power play Thursday night in the Cup clincher against the Vegas Golden Knights. But goal-scorers don’t typically keep up this pace – Ovechkin was already the oldest player to finish first in goals since Phil Esposito in 1974-75.
”He was very comfortable and he was very confident,” longtime teammate Nicklas Backstrom said. ”He was really calm. Everything was really good. It’s impressive the way he scores goals and the way he worked out there. He was just a machine there in the playoffs.”
Owner Ted Leonsis said recently his only regret about signing Ovechkin to a $124 million, 13-year deal is that it wasn’t longer. With three years left at a salary-cap hit over $9.5 million, Ovechkin has already exceeded the expectations of that monster contract with three Hart Trophies, seven Maurice ”Rocket” Richard Trophies and now the playoff success that had long eluded him.
”We worked so hard through all the years and we were together,” Ovechkin said. ”It’s just like a dream.”
More Stanley Cup coverage: Lance McCullers pitched seven strong innings, Jake Marisnick homered and the Houston Astros beat the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 on Thursday night to tie a franchise record with their 11th straight road win.
McCullers (9-3) gave up three hits while striking out seven. The Astros have won his last six starts and have won 18 of 21 overall. Their 11th straight road win matched the club record set last May 14-June 5 on the way to winning the franchise’s first World Series title.
The Rays, who had won five straight overall and eight straight at home, had runners on first and third with none out in the eighth against reliever Chris Devenski http://www.chiefsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-derrick-nnadi-jersey , but Matt Duffy lined into a double play and Jake Bauers grounded out.
Hector Rondon pitched the ninth for his fifth save in seven opportunities.
Marisnick’s homer in the fifth came off Ryan Yarbrough (7-4) and was his seventh of the season. It ended the Rays’ streak of 26 scoreless innings, the second-longest in franchise history.
RED SOX 4, ANGELS 2
BOSTON (AP) – Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run homer and Rafael Devers had a solo shot to help Boston beat Los Angeles.
Boston completed a season sweep of the Angels for the first time since they joined the American League as an expansion club in 1961.
The Red Sox have won four straight and six of seven as they head to New York to open three-game series between the rivals on Friday night with first place in the AL East on the line.
Hector Velazquez (6-0) pitched two scoreless innings of relief. Craig Kimbrel earned his 24th save with a scoreless ninth inning.
Andrelton Simmons hit a solo homer and Albert Pujols had an RBI single for the Angels, who have lost six straight. Los Angeles was up 1-0 until Devers led off the fifth with his 13th homer, to center off of Jamie Barria (5-4).
DODGERS 11, CUBS 5
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Anthony Rizzo’s three-run double and Addison Russell’s two-run homer highlighted a seven-run seventh inning as Chicago broke loose after Los Angeles starter Clayton Kershaw exited.
The Cubs pounded out 15 hits, including four by Rizzo. Russell drove in four runs in the final regular-season meeting between the teams that played each other in the NL Championship Series the last two years.
They met seven times in 10 days, with the Cubs winning four games over the two series.
The Dodgers staked Kershaw to a 3-1 lead before he departed after five innings because of a pitch limit.
The Cubs jumped on reliever Walker Buehler (4-2), who arrived earlier in the morning from Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he had been set for a rehab assignment. Albert Almora Jr. homered on Buehler’s second pitch and Russell’s sacrifice fly tied it at 3 in the sixth.
Steve Cishek (2-0) got the win with 1 2/3 innings of relief.
ROCKIES 9 http://www.texansauthorizedshops.com/authentic-justin-reid-jersey , GIANTS 8
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – DJ LeMahieu hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning and set a career best with five RBIs, rallying Colorado past San Francisco.
Nolan Arenado hit his 19th home run, tying him for the NL lead with Washington’s Bryce Harper. Trevor Story added three hits for Colorado, which had lost four straight at San Francisco.
The Rockies blew leads of 5-2 and 7-5 and were down 8-7 before scoring twice off closer Sam Dyson (2-2) to avoid a series sweep.
Adam Ottavino (4-1) gave up two runs but retired three batters to win. Wade Davis pitched the ninth for his 22nd save.
DIAMONDBACKS 4, MARLINS 0
MIAMI (AP) – Zack Greinke pitched seven innings and was an offensive dynamo, too, helping Arizona beat Miami.
Greinke singled twice, drove in a run, stole a base and scored. He leads Arizona pitchers this year with four RBIs and four runs, raised his season average to .300 Ryan McMahon Colorado Rockies Jersey , and is now 7 for 7 lifetime in steal attempts.
As for pitching, Greinke (8-5) won for the fifth time in his past six starts.
Paul Goldschmidt continued his recent tear with three hits, and Nick Ahmed added two hits. Each scored and drove in a run.
Trevor Richards (2-5) allowed three runs in four innings. Miami rookie Brian Anderson went 0 for 4 to end his 24-game on-base streak, which had been the longest active string in the National League.
PHILLIES 4, NATIONALS 3
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Aaron Nola pitched into the eighth inning to win his 10th game of the season, Rhys Hoskins homered again and Philadelphia started a pivotal division series by beating Washington.
Hoskins hit a two-run shot in the seventh inning for his 13th home run of the year and a 4-1 lead that propelled the Phillies within two games of idle Atlanta for first place the NL East. Both the Phillies and Nationals entered this four-game set within striking distance of the Braves.
Nola (10-2) struck out eight and walked only two over 114 pitches and 7 2/3 innings. He has won seven straight decisions at home dating to last season.
Tommy Hunter allowed two runs in the ninth before Seranthony Dominguez got the final two outs for his sixth save.
Tanner Roark (3-9) struck out five over seven innings for the Nationals, who fell to 4-12 since June 9.
BREWERS 6, REDS 4
CINCINNATI (AP) – Eric Thames hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning and Milwaukee slowed Cincinnati’s best surge of the season.
The game included a benches-clearing incident in the third inning as Cincinnati’s Joey Votto exchanged words with Brewers catcher Erik Kratz.
Thames gave the Brewers a 5-4 lead when he homered in the seventh inning off reliever Amir Garrett (0-1).
Eric Sogard added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Junior Guerra (4-5) gave up Jose Peraza’s second career leadoff homer and Jesse Winker’s two-run shot while .
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