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    but they do the little things that
    The sight of Evgeni Malkin on the ice brought a smile to many in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ locker room.

    Even knowing they wouldn’t have him in the lineup for Game 1 of their second-round series against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night Cheap Lamar Jackson Jersey , the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champions could glean some optimism that the skilled Russian center won’t be out long with his apparent leg injury.

    ”It’s always nice to see a guy like him out there,” winger Bryan Rust said Thursday after an optional morning skate.

    ”He’s a guy who’s obviously really important to our team and brings so much. Just to see him out there and see him getting closer is nice.”

    Coach Mike Sullivan said Malkin skating ”means he’s that much closer” to playing, even if the 31-year-old was wearing a white no-contact jersey. Malkin traveling with the team to Washington plus the progress he appears to be making could put him in line to return as soon as Game 2 Sunday afternoon.

    ”It’s great for our team, great for Geno that he’s on the ice and skating,” Sullivan said. ”He’s a big part of this team. He’s a difference-maker and not an easy guy to replace.”

    Pittsburgh beat Philadelphia in Game 6 without Malkin, who was injured in Game 5 on April 20 and hadn’t practiced since. Absent the 2009 Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP, the Penguins rely more heavily on superstar Sidney Crosby and fellow centers Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan and Tom Kuhnhackl.

    ”We have the depth on our roster,” Kuhnhackl said. ”We’ve showed that before. At the end http://www.brownsauthorizedshops.com/aut...ard-jersey , it doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup and who’s out. Everyone’s capable of playing the right way.”

    Few in the NHL can play like Malkin, who has three goals and two assists in five playoff games so far. General manager Jim Rutherford acquiring Brassard at the trade deadline certainly helps Pittsburgh’s depth down the middle, but it takes more than one or two players to fill the void without Malkin.

    ”One of the best players in the world, almost 100 points this year,” Brassard said. ”You can’t really replace a guy who scored 40 goals, but I think as a team we can do a better job and are trying to do a better job.”



    For a team that entered the season thinking it was ready to win 50 games and reach the Eastern Conference finals, John Wall’s Washington Wizards sure did lose a lot of games against teams that didn’t even make the playoffs.

    And everything revealed by those defeats against the likes of the Hawks and Magic, or the Mavericks and Suns, or the Nets and Bulls – a lack of consistency Harold Landry Color Rush Jersey , for example, or an inability to close out opponents – were the same sorts of problems that failed the Wizards in their first-round exit as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

    ”We had some great moments. Then we showed bad moments,” Wall said Saturday, the day after a 102-92 loss in Game 6 against the No. 1 seed Toronto Raptors ended Washington’s season. ”Just kind of not respecting some of the opponents that we went against.”

    Asked why that happened, forward Markieff Morris said: ”Sometimes it felt like it was immaturity. … Not coming in and doing our job.”

    The issue might have been as much a detriment as missing Wall for 41 regular-season games because of health problems – they were 23-18 with him, 20-21 without – or a mediocre reserve unit.

    ”I guess the one thing about the Wizards (is) you never know who you’re going to expect today,” center Marcin Gortat said. ”You might get a team that’s going to lose to the worst team in the league – or can beat the best team in the league.”

    Shooting guard Bradley Beal, who joined Wall as an All-Star for the first time, agreed with others that the Wizards had a problem taking for granted games against foes with losing records.

    ”There were a lot of times that we would just show up and think we were just going to win the game Paul Worrilow Color Rush Jersey ,” Beal said. ”You can’t do that. You have to respect everybody.”

    Wall and Beal – the two leading scorers – are both playing under long-term, maximum-money contracts, as is third option Otto Porter Jr.

    And coach Scott Brooks has three years left on his deal.

    So the assumption is that this will be the core moving forward. Wall said it’s clear that Washington needs some new parts, more than once describing what’s lacking are players ”that really want to be here.”

    Now the question becomes whether that trio of players and their coach can finally take a step forward next year. Wall and Beal have yet to get past the second round of the playoffs.

    ”Going into the season,” Brooks said, ”we definitely had some high expectations.”

    They weren’t met.

    Here are other things to know about the Wizards as their offseason begins:

    CHEMISTRY MAJORS

    There was a lot of speculation about whether there was shaky locker room chemistry, and while reserve Mike Scott and Gortat were eager to dismiss that notion, others weren’t so clear that it was a non-factor.

    ”I feel like we might not have identified the real issues,” backup center Ian Mahinmi said. ”Unless we can honestly and genuinely talk and find solution Kevin Hogan Color Rush Jersey , we (are) going to continue the trend that’s going right now.”

    He mentioned ”miscommunication” and added: ”I don’t think we had a genuine approach with everything.”

    Said Wall: ”When things are going well, everybody’s happy, everybody wants to be here. But when things get rough, that’s when you really figure out who’s your brother.”

    WALL AND BEAL

    Beal carried the club while Wall was out and played in all 82 games for the first time. As for chatter about breaking up the duo, Beal says he’s not interested. ”They have trusted us, to build around us,” Beal said. ”I’m not really a fan of change and starting over again. Hopefully (owner Ted Leonsis and team president Ernie Grunfeld) won’t give me the boot – or give either of us the boot.”

    SMALL BALL?

    With two back-to-the-basket and screen-setting centers in Gortat and Mahinmi, the Wizards could try to figure out a way to make a change to that part of the roster.

    ”We don’t really have an athletic big. I mean, Ian is older. (Gortat) is older http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/au...ker-jersey ,” Wall said. ”They’re not athletic guys, but they do the little things that permit their game to help as much as possible.”

    Brooks would love his big men to shoot 3s, but Gortat flatly ruled out trying to work on that aspect of his game.

    ”I hate small ball,” Gortat said. ”Small ball basketball in this league is just trash.”



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    10.08.2018 10:12
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