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NEWARK http://www.sabresshoponline.com/authentic-johan-larsson-jersey , N.J. (AP) For the first time since spending $340 million to buy the New Jersey Devils in the summer of 2013, Josh Harris and David Blitzer are getting a chance to see the team play some meaningful games in the final months of the NHL season.Following Saturday’s 2-1 comeback win over the New York Islanders, the Devils hold a five-point lead over Columbus in the race for the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, and a seven-point edge over the Islanders for the second wild-card spot with 20 games left in the regular season.While it is still too early to start celebrating, the Devils’ five-year playoff drought might be ending.”Yeah, I hope we’re going to the playoffs and long run, we’ve said consistently that we want to be an elite Stanley Cup contender year in, year out and there are no shortcuts to that,” Harris said Saturday night in a rare interview after taking part in the ceremony to retire the No. 26 jersey of Patrik Elias, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.What makes this turnaround remarkable is that the Devils had their worst season in three decades in 2016-17, finishing last in the conference with 70 points.Their win over the Islanders on Saturday night gave them 72 points this season.”We have always said we were going to do things step by step to build long-run winners Authentic Justin Bailey Jersey ,” Harris said. ”Sometimes everyone gets impatient and we get impatient. Last year wasn’t great to be me. It’s very exciting to be in the hunt, but we are not done.”Much of the credit for the turnaround has to go to general manager Ray Shero, who came on board in the offseason in 2015. He has revamped the roster with the latest addition being the acquisition of 25-goal scorer Michael Grabner from the Rangers on Thursday in the first deal between the area rivals since the Devils came to New Jersey in 1982.It was just the latest deal by Shero who has acquired forwards Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and Marcus Johansson, defensemen Sami Vatanen and Mirco Mueller and goaltender Eddie Lack in trades and signed free agents John Moore, Brian Boyle, Ben Lovejoy, Will Butcher, Jimmy Hayes and Drew Stafford.Hall is having a career season with 26 goals and 40 assists. His 66 points are 25 more than any player on the team.The bad season last year also helped earn the Devils the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. They got a winner with 19-year-old Nico Hischier, who is centering the top line.”Look when Ray came in in 2015 I still remember him saying things won’t necessarily change overnight, but we’re going to move this in the right direction and that’s all across the organization http://www.sabresshoponline.com/authentic-kyle-okposo-jersey ,” Blitzer said. ”What he has been able to do over the last 2 years, and I think as we look at the future, it has been incredible.”New Jersey still faces an immediate obstacle in its playoff push. Nine of its next 12 games are on the road, including eight with teams in playoff positions heading into Sunday’s games.Blitzer believes the Devils are going to finish what they started this season.”Certain things happen that you plan and certain things happen that you don’t necessarily plan,” he said. ”We got some really interesting pieces that you could not predict at the beginning of the summer. Will Butcher; for Nico to come and do what he is doing. Taylor Hall to turn over what he is doing this season and the leadership he is showing.”It’s just been incredible,” he added. ”I just think you see a team really gelling. It’s also a team not just built for today. This is a team that is built for the future and that’s what makes it so exciting.”— WASHINGTON (AP) The Stanley Cup Final is a block party for the Washington Capitals.For all of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s points on offense and Braden Holtby’s saves in net, the Capitals are one win away from blocking their way to the Cup. They’ve gotten in front of almost a third of the Vegas Golden Knights’ shots, blocking with enough smarts and precision to take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 Thursday.”There’s more to blocking shots than just going out there and trying to get hit,” Holtby said. ”We’re doing a great job of creating the right layers, guys going out there strategically to know which lane I’m picking for sight lines and they’re taking away the other half and making big blocks.”Washington is blocking in quantity and quality in the final, 86 total Rasmus Ristolainen Jersey , in limiting Vegas to 124 shots on Holtby – many of which he’s seeing and stopping . Even star captain Alex Ovechkin is blocking shots as he gets closer to tasting his first championship.”You see `O’ jumping in front of shots, it makes everyone on the team want to do the same,” winger Devante Smith-Pelly said.Blocking shots is a team-wide commitment right now and comes from a season’s worth of skaters, goaltending coach Scott Murray, Holtby and Philipp Grubauer getting on the same page. The goalies have worked on making sure they can see past blocks to give players the confidence to get in front of pucks.And in return, Capitals players study opponents’ tendencies and consciously decide when to try to block a shot and not so Holtby isn’t at a disadvantage.”You obviously don’t want to cross in front of him,” center Jay Beagle said. ”You don’t want to become a screen. So if you miss the block, which happens, guys are good at shooting pucks and stuff, you want it still so from your standpoint you didn’t hinder Holts’ view.”Defensemen have an understanding of which half of the net is their responsibility and which half is Holtby’s. Forwards closer to the blue line have to react quickly, take the right angle and get to the shooter.”If guys have time and space Greg Pateryn Jersey Womens , they’re going to be able to sift one through,” Smith-Pelly said. ”For the forwards, it’s just going out there pretty hard and just getting in the way.”The amount of shots the Capitals have blocked through four games seems to be getting in the Golden Knights’ heads. They’re struggling to get quality shots through and resorting to settling for lower-danger scoring chances.”If you’re going to take shots, make sure they pay a price for blocking those shots,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. ”Shoot it harder.”Capitals coach Barry Trotz doesn’t want his players thinking too much about blocking shots or hesitating. He doesn’t care much about Ovechkin’s blocking form or the philosophy of shot-blocking as long as it keeps the puck out of the net.”If you’re positionally sound, if you’re in shot lanes, block the shot,” Trotz said. ”It’s all about will.”And that will can turn into skill. Washington has been comfortable and confident enough in the final to push the puck up ice quickly, and a well-timed block shot can set the table for an odd-man rush.”The less shots they have, the more opportunities we’re gonna have in offensive zone,” defenseman Dmitry Orlov said. ”Sometimes when you block it Womens Luke Kunin Jersey , you get quicker pass and you jump on the rush and you got 3-on-2 or 4-on-3.”The Golden Knights by this point are well-aware of that. But they don’t really have a solution.”You just have to – I don’t know – defensemen, puck fake, maybe move around, or maybe look for a guy off to the side, or put it off the end wall,” forward Alex Tuch said. ”There are a bunch of different plays that could happen and when they’re blocking shots they’re getting momentum from it, and if they’re blocking shots and having odd-man rushes that’s even worse. ”In addition to a suffocating neutral-zone trap that’s not easy to play but has frustrated opponents for four rounds, the Capitals have embraced a shot-blocking-when-it-matters mentality.”It’s not exactly fun, but you got to do if you really want to win,” Smith-Pelly said. ”Everyone is on board with doing those things.”—More Stanley Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/StanleyCupFinals

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