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What should be the main uniform plan (Post)"We love the powder blue," Chargers president of business operations A.G. Spanos told the team's website. "It is obviously a color our fans identify with and is an important part of the Chargers' rich history. It has worked out well that we can still wear the powder blue for certain games during the year, especially during special occasions like honoring our alumni. The current system has Fred Biletnikoff Womens Jersey worked out great." Chargers chairman Dean Spanos has said in the past he's open to the possibility of rebranding. NFL rules allow teams to change their uniforms only once in a five-year period. The last time the Chargers made any changes to their uniforms was in 2012. Along with wearing the powder blue uniforms at home on Sunday, the Chargers also will wear them on the road against the Dallas Cowboys for a Week 13 contest on Thanksgiving Day. First reappearing in 1994, the Chargers have worn their alternate powder blue uniforms 32 times, posting a 16-16 record. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the pregame protest of racial oppression and inequality in the United States last season by sitting Fred Biletnikoff Womens Jersey during the national anthem before a preseason game, then kneeling during the anthem throughout the season. Oakland Raiders: Marshawn Lynch sat at the beginning of the national anthem before Sunday's game against the Chargers, as he has since the preseason began. He was standing, however, during a moment of silence for the victims of the North Bay fires, before which former Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch, who lost his home in Santa Rosa, announced the Raiders were donating $1 million to the relief effort. Lynch has not said why he has remained seated during the national anthem since joining the Raiders. He wore a T-shirt before the team's Week 4 game that read "EVERYBODY -VS- TRUMP." -- Paul Gutierrez Indianapolis Colts: The Colts wore their black T-shirts with the words “We will” on the front and “Stand for equality, justice, unity, respect, dialogue, opportunity” on the back during pregame warmups for the third straight week. And just like the past two weeks, the players stood with their arms locked during the national anthem in Nashville. -- Mike Wells Tennessee Titans: Wide receiver Rishard Matthews remained in the locker room during the anthem on Monday night for the third consecutive week. The rest of the team stood. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard and defensive lineman Jurrell Casey raised a right fist after the anthem. -- Cameron Wolfe Los Angeles Chargers: Left tackle Russell Okung stood with the rest of his teammates during the national anthem, raising his right fist. Okung wrote an open letter to other NFL players on The Players' Tribune on Friday, with the goal of overcoming "uncharted territory" by opening a line of communication and responding with "one voice" as players. -- Eric D. Williams Kansas City Chiefs: All players stood during the national anthem before the Chiefs' game against the Steelers, except for cornerback Marcus Peters and linebacker Ukeme Eligwe, who knelt. Peters has yet to stand for the anthem during the 2017 regular season. -- Adam Teicher Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins as a team stood for the national anthem on the sideline before Sunday's game against the Falcons. Receiver Kenny Stills, safety Michael Thomas Fred Biletnikoff Womens Jersey and tight end Julius Thomas, however, remained in the tunnel or locker room until the anthem was complete. All three players knelt before the Week game against the Saints in London. -- James Walker
Russell Wilson hasn't missed a start since he was drafted in 2012, so we haven't (Post)seen what the Seahawks' offense looks like without him over the course of a full game. Chances are, it wouldn't be pretty. That isn't a reflection on Austin Davis so much as it is the offensive line that would be protecting him. Davis has some experience with 10 career starts, and he won the backup job in large part because he was much more reliable than Trevone Boykin over the summer. The Seahawks could count on Davis to make sound decisions, but so much of their offense depends on Wilson avoiding sacks and making plays on the move, and Davis just doesn't have the mobility to mitigate Seattle's limitations in pass protection the way Wilson does. -- Brady Henderson Kevin Hogan was given a chance to start against Houston last week after starter DeShone Kizer struggled through the first five weeks. Hogan threw three interceptions, had one safety, was sacked four times, had numerous overthrows and passed for just 140 yards. He has looked capable in relief roles, but given the starting spot for a game, he struggled, and the team was blown out. -- Pat McManamon If Andrew Luck were healthy right now, the Colts might have the NFL's second-best backup quarterback in Jacoby Brissett. But with Luck's outlook still uncertain, Brissett is the starter, leaving Scott Tolzien as the No. 2. That means their backup situation looks bleak. Tolzien was ineffective in his lone start, throwing two pick-sixes in an ugly 46-9 loss to the Rams in Week 1. He hasn't shown enough in four starts over seven NFL seasons to inspire confidence that he can handle filling in for the starter. -- Mike Wells Bryce Petty beat Christian Hackenberg for the No. 2 job, but he isn't considered the heir apparent. He can come off the bench to finish a game, but he has yet to prove he can win in the league. He played poorly and went 1-3 in four meaningless starts at the end of last season, completing only two of those games due to injuries. Petty is a fiery leader and ultra-competitive, but his ability to read defenses isn't where it needs to be. His future with the Jets beyond 2017 is up in the air. -- Rich Cimini completing only two of those games due to injuries. Petty is a fiery leader and ultra-competitive, but his ability to read defenses isn't where it needs to be. His future with the Jets beyond 2017 is up in the air. -- Rich Cimini Six quarters of Matt Cassel were enough to see that the Titans don't have a backup quarterback who can move the offense along and win games without Marcus Mariota. Tennessee chose familiarity and veteran presence in Cassel, who led the Titans to 212 total yards in his six quarters of action this season. Cassel, 35, is a great mentor Aqib Talib Jersey for Mariota, but he can't make all the throws anymore, and the offense becomes limited with him under center. It's clearly an area to seek improvement this offseason and hope that Mariota remains healthy for the rest of the season. -- Cameron Wolfe COSTA MESA, Calif. -- One of the best looking and most recognizable uniforms in sports, the Los Angeles Chargers' powder blue alternate uniforms will be worn for the first time this season for a Sunday contest against the Denver Broncos (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS). And in a battle to win more fans in Los Angeles, the Chargers should make the powder blues their permanent home uniform. It makes no sense to have one of the most iconic uniforms in the sports world and Aqib Talib Jersey only wear them a couple times a season. The powder blue uniforms got their start in Los Angeles when the team began as a franchise in 1960, so the Chargers would be re-establishing a tradition in Los Angeles. ESPN's Paul Lukas provides a good history of the powder blue uniforms.
The Cowboys believe they're in good shape with Kellen Moore (Post)knowledge of the offense, but he has played in just three Jake Guentzel Womens Jersey games in his career, with four touchdown passes and six interceptions. There is no question that he knows what offensive coordinator Scott Linehan wants, given that they have been together since their days with the Lions. Moore can't do all that Dak Prescott can do, but the Cowboys believe they can get by with him. Undrafted rookie Cooper Rush opened eyes in the preseason to earn a roster spot, but he has been inactive every game. If Prescott is gone for an extended amount, the Cowboys might go to Rush. -- Todd Archer Jake Rudock has looked decent in the preseason, but he has yet to take a regular-season snap in his career. The second-year pro improved his arm strength in the offseason and has the intelligence to be a starter in the league. He played for Big Ten schools Iowa and Michigan, so he has been in big atmospheres before, but there is legitimately no way to know how he would do in a game that matters. Anyone who says otherwise is just taking a guess. -- Michael Rothstein We're about to find out if this should be upgraded or downgraded. Brett Hundley will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Saints. He didn't get much done after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone last Sunday, but now he has a full week to prepare. Although he played lights-out in his rookie preseason, he hasn't done much in the two-plus years since then. His backup, Joe Callahan, was undrafted and has never taken a snap in a regular-season game. -- Rob Demovsky Sean Mannion, a third-round pick out of Oregon State in 2015, has thrown 14 regular-season passes in three NFL seasons. The Rams' current coaching staff has seen him throw only one of them. He went from third string to backup after 2016, so Mannion saw extended preseason action this summer, completing 64.5 percent of his passes for 490 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions He's also getting a lot more practice snaps. But the 25-year-old Mannion simply hasn't had enough exposure to games that count. He has elite-level arm strength but has shown that he needs to work on his touch. -- Alden Gonzalez Kyle Sloter was a stud during the preseason, and the Vikings clearly see potential, otherwise they wouldn't have fought so hard to land him on the practice squad and then elevate him to the 53-man roster when Sam Bradford's knee became an issue. Sloter hasn't taken a single snap with Minnesota, so there's a lot unknown about how he can orchestrate the offense should he need to step in for backup-turned-starter Case Keenum. The Vikings need another backup other than Sloter, which could be a way to ease Teddy Bridgewater in before he takes his job back. Bridgewater returns to practice for the first time in 14 months on Wednesday. -- Courtney Cronin Geno Smith is the Giants backup quarterback. And there is a lot of unknown right now with Geno Smith. This is his first year with the team in Ben Jake Guentzel Womens Jersey McAdoo's system and he's started just one game in the past three years. He hasn't taken a snap yet this season. Adding to the unknown is that Smith had an up-and-down summer and, once upon a time, did flash ability to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. The threw for over 3,000 yards as a rookie with the Jets in 2013. -- Jordan Raanan Patrick Mahomes II showed his ability during training camp and the preseason, but he has never taken a snap in a regular-season game, so how he would play is anyone's guess. The Chiefs would trim some calls from the playbook and tailor the ones that remain Jake Guentzel Womens Jersey to his skills to try to help ease his transition. But as Mahomes showed over the summer, he might be at his best after a play breaks down. His vision and ability to throw on the move are excellent. -- Adam Teicher
Foles could hold down the fort if called upon. -- Tim McManus (Post)Landry Jones has been in the Steelers' system for five seasons, and though he isn't an accomplished or flashy backup, the Steelers feel he's better than most. That's why they re-signed him to a two-year deal as soon as free agency started. With a good ground game, the Steelers feel they could win games with Jones if necessary. -- Fowler Brian Hoyer was just benched in favor of rookie C.J. Beathard for a reason. As the starter, Hoyer wasn't getting the job done. But that doesn't mean Hoyer isn't a good option to have as a backup. Keeping in mind that it's all relative when it comes to backup quarterbacks, you could do a lot worse than a steady veteran presence who has complete knowledge and understanding of coach Kyle Shanahan's offense. If you were to rank starters, Hoyer would be near the bottom of the league. But you'd be hard-pressed to find a backup with as much experience (37 career starts in more than eight seasons) and production (9,853 passing yards and 48 touchdown passes) as Hoyer. -- Nick Wagoner The Bucs got a good look at their backup quarterback situation last week against the Cardinals, when starter Jameis Winston suffered a right shoulder sprain and left in the second quarter. Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdowns and led four Womens Whitney Mercilus Jersey scoring drives in the second half, overcoming a 31-0 deficit and almost pulling off a win. But he also threw two interceptions, which is the biggest reason for concern. He takes a lot of risks, and sometimes Womens Whitney Mercilus Jerseythey don't pay off. His 3.2 percent interception rate is the highest in the NFL since 2013. There's a good chance the Bucs have to use him again this week against the Bills. -- Jenna Laine Colt McCoy knows the offense well, having played in Womens Whitney Mercilus Jersey it for four seasons now. Coach Jay Gruden is a big fan of McCoy's because he not only knows the offense well but also plays with a little swagger. McCoy has started 34 games in his career and understands that the perception is that he's just a backup. But McCoy's confidence has increased in recent years, and he says his arm strength has improved after working in recent offseasons with Tom House. McCoy says the shoulder he hurt in his last game at Texas finally feels back to normal. He's smart, he studies, and he has the respect of the players. -- John Keim Ryan Mallett has been a major question mark during his limited action with the Ravens. He showed his potential when he led Baltimore to an upset win over the rival Steelers in 2015, but he has been wildly inconsistent since then. In filling in for the injured Joe Flacco, Mallett threw countless interceptions during training camp. He has also never had a season in which he threw more touchdowns than interceptions. -- Jamison Hensley Rookie fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman leapfrogged veteran T.J. Yates on the depth chart during training camp to become the Bills' top backup to Tyrod Taylor. Peterman's preseason stat line was pedestrian -- he completed 54 percent of his passes for a 75.6 passer rating -- but the rookie outperformed Taylor in August to generate some buzz among fans that he should get a crack at the starting job. It'll most likely take an injury to Taylor for Peterman to see his first meaningful NFL playing time this season, and if he does, it's anyone's guess as to how he will perform. -- Mike Womens Whitney Mercilus Jersey Rodak
Anderson consistently is considered one of the better backups in the NFL (Post)Derek Anderson is a former Pro Bowler who has proven he can step in and replace starter Cam Newton, at least for a few games. Anderson was 2-0 as the starter for Newton during the 2014 season, albeit both wins came against a not-so-good Tampa Bay team. Because of his experience and ability to efficiently run the offense, Anderson consistently is considered one of the better backups in the NFL. -- David Newton Brock Osweiler helped the Broncos get to the Super Bowl in 2015, when he made seven starts for the injured Peyton Manning. Manning replaced Osweiler in the regular-season finale that year and started all of the team's postseason games en route to the Super Bowl 50 victory. The Broncos believed they were signing that quarterback just before the regular season -- not the quarterback who went on to struggle with the Texans and Browns before ending up back in Denver. Osweiler knows Mike McCoy's offense and has shown decisiveness as well as the arm the Broncos remember in practices, and they believe he could get them wins they would need if Trevor Simian were injured. The Broncos also have former first-round pick Paxton Lynch on the roster, but he is still working his way back from a preseason shoulder injury. -- Jeff Legwold Chad Henne has played in two games and thrown just two passes since being benched for Blake Bortles at halftime of Week 3 in 2014. However, he has started 53 games in his career and played in 66 and has 58 touchdown passes and 63 interceptions, so he at least he has significant experience. Coach Doug Marrone opened up the competition for a week during the preseason, but Bortles held on to the job. That shows that Marrone has enough confidence in Henne to make a change if Bortles really struggles. -- DiRocco Kellen Clemens has been the backup for Philip Rivers for four seasons and knows the offense well. The University of Oregon product is 8-13 as a starter and could get the Chargers through a rough patch if Rivers were unavailable for a few games. -- Eric Williams Matt Moore replaced injured starter Ryan Tannehill in 2016 and won two of Miami's final three games to get to the playoffs. Some Dolphins fans are clamoring for Moore to replace current starter Jay Cutler, but the team isn't budging. -- James Walker Chase Daniel hasn't been able to establish himself as a starter in his nine NFL seasons, but he has been a coveted backup in three spots. The 31-year-old spent his first four seasons in New Calle Jarnkrok Jersey Orleans before he branched out to Kansas City and Philadelphia, even making two starts with the Chiefs. When Daniel was available again this offseason, the Saints re-signed him because they considered him an upgrade to another solid veteran backup, Luke McCown. -- Mike Triplett The Raiders have already taken a test ride with EJ Manuel. Now, this is not to suggest Manuel is the second coming of Jim Plunkett, who came off the bench to lead the Raiders to a title in Super Bowl XV after Dan Pastorini went down, but Manuel was serviceable against the Ravens in Week 5, completing 13 of 26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown without an interception. Plus, he has already been a starter in the NFL. -- Paul Gutierrez The Eagles know Nick Foles has the ability to be a competent starter because they've seen him do it. They drafted him in the third round of the 2012 draft and watched him put together an improbable 2013 season (27 touchdowns and two interceptions) before coming back down to earth. He ended up Calle Jarnkrok Jersey as a backup in Kansas City under his old coach Andy Reid, operating in a system similar to the one Doug Pederson employs. He knows Philly, and he knows the offense.
Hundley will likely start Green Bay's remaining 10 games. (Post)Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley was thrust into the spotlight when Aaron Rodgers -- who could miss the rest of the season -- went down with a broken collarbone on Sunday. What would happen if your team's starting QB had to miss time? Would the team be in good hands? NFL Nation reporters rated all 32 teams' backup QB situations. Everyone knows the Cardinals backup is Drew Stanton, and he'll continue to have that role as long as Bruce Arians is the head coach. Stanton is 6-3 since coming to Arizona in 2013, but he has seen just a handful of snaps the past two seasons, save for one start in 2016 when starter Carson Palmer was out with a concussion. Stanton might know Arizona's complex offense better than anyone because he was in Indianapolis with Arians in 2012. He might not be the long-term answer if Palmer were to go down early in a season, but he's capable of getting the Cardinals through a difficult stretch. -- Josh Weinfuss The Texans clearly think highly of Tom Savage because he entered the regular season as their starting quarterback. Now they've seen that Deshaun Watson is better, but if the Texans had to rely on Delano Hill Jersey Savage, they would be in good shape -- especially with an improved offensive line. -- Sarah Barshop If there were a category for "best in the NFL," the Patriots might qualify. Jimmy Garoppolo has shown almost every sign the team would need to see to indicate that he's a capable starting quarterback, with maybe the only question being his durability. This is why the Patriots didn't entertain trade offers for Garoppolo in the offseason: If a team with Super Bowl hopes doesn't have its backup quarterback situation accounted for, it puts the entire team and any Super Bowl hopes at risk. The position and Garoppolo were more valuable to the Patriots than anything they could've received in return. -- Mike Reiss Matt Schaub, Delano Hill Jersey 36, is a Delano Hill Jersey veteran of 14 NFL seasons and made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2012 with the Texans. That's not to say Schaub still plays at a Pro Bowl-caliber level, but he has been there and done that. He knows how to run an offense and has seen many defenses. If forced into a starting role, Schaub knows he wouldn't have to force the issue passing the ball with Delano Hill Jersey a dynamic running back tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Having big-play wide receiver Julio Jones as a threat to throw to would help any quarterback pressed into action. -- Vaughn McClure Second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky has shown flashes of being the real deal. Barring something unforeseen, Trubisky should be Chicago's quarterback for the next six to eight years -- minimum. For the first time seemingly in forever, the Bears might have found an actual solution at quarterback. But they can't have too much confidence in backup Mike Glennon, who turned the ball over eight times before losing his starting job to Trubisky. -- Jeff Dickerson The Bengals got to see what they had in AJ McCarron during the 2015 season, when he started three games and the AFC wild-card game after Andy Dalton broke his thumb. Although McCarron had a passer rating of 68.3 in his lone playoff start, he led a potential game-winning touchdown drive. Although events out of McCarron's control prevented his team from winning that game, the Bengals came out of it with a lot of confidence in their backup -- enough for him to be the subject of several trade rumors the following offseason. -- Katherine Terrell
The key player in the spotlight -- and on the spot -- for each team (Post)Boston Bruins: Charlie McAvoy. This kid is great. He's 19, so I'm Womens Josh Bellamy Jersey going future here. It's a lot harder to be a young defenseman in the NHL than to be a young forward. But I think he will be the next Ray Bourque for the Boston Bruins. Montreal Canadiens: Carey Price. This team can't score, so Price is going to have to win games for it. He'll have to be the best goaltender in the world for Montreal to have any chance of making the playoffs. The Canadiens have started the season slowly, so if his save percentage and goals-against average aren't the best, the Habs will have a tough, tough year. Buffalo Sabres: Jack Eichel. He is the key. He just signed a big, new deal. As the old saying goes, "The more God gives you, the more God expects." Eichel has been given a lot. There was talk that there was trouble between him and [former Sabres coach] Dan Bylsma. I don't know about that. But it's very clear that this is Eichel's team now. It's different now, with this contract and the pressure that he's under. If the team struggles, Eichel will take some heat. New Jersey Devils: Nico Hischier. I know his numbers so far don't show it, but he's a heck of a player. I've been very impressed with him. It would be easy to say Jesper Bratt; I really like him, too. Bratt's a diamond in the rough that the Devils have found. But I think this Hischier kid will turn out to be a heck of a pick and a heck of a player. Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby. He's the best leader in hockey. He's already won three Cups. The guy just He and the Penguins Womens Josh Bellamy Jersey won without Kris Letang in the lineup last season. It's amazing what his teams have accomplished, both internationally and with the Penguins. He's the best. Washington Capitals: It's Ovi. [Alex Ovechkin] gets too much of the blame. But it's a lot like Jack Eichel's situation. You're one of the highest-paid players in the league. You're one of the most talented men in the world. You've had a good supporting cast, but you haven't won. So you have to take some of the blame. Columbus Blue Jackets: Zach Werenski, for a lot of the same reasons I mentioned about Charlie McAvoy. This kid is great. He's a special defenseman. To play the way he did last season at his age (19), for a team that made the playoffs, was very impressive. The Blue Jackets have other good players, depth players. But I think Werenski is the guy who'll end up being the real leader of this group. Philadelphia Flyers: It's still Claude Giroux. I know he had a bad year last season, but as he goes, the Flyers go. He needs to rebound and become Claude Giroux again and play the way Claude Giroux can. If he does regain that form, I think the Flyers are going to be a tough to play against. Carolina Hurricanes: Jeff Skinner. If you look at last season, when the Hurricanes got things going in the second half, Skinner was the guy. He got really hot and scored a ton of goals. He's an elite scorer. He plays hard. The Hurricanes have a great, young defense. But when the going gets tough, they look to Skinner to put Womens Josh Bellamy Jersey puck in the net. New York Islanders: John Tavares. I don't know for how long. This will be a story we're gonna follow the whole season. The Islanders have to get a new building. They can't let this guy go. But they have to get him signed. So they're fighting a three-front battle: they have to win, they have to get a rink and they have to keep Tavares. New York Rangers: It's still Henrik Lundqvist. But the window is closing for Hank. He's great, but he hasn't pushed them over the top. You look at the other goaltenders who have won Stanley Cups -- Corey Crawford, Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Murray, Jonathan Quick. Hank hasn't. You never want to be on the list of the best goaltenders who never won a Stanley Cup. Hank would probably be the leader of that group right now.
buzz around town, which is always a win for hockey (Post)Chris Peters: A lot of different things have really surprised me this season. The Vegas Golden Knights are certainly near the top of that list, but expansion teams are so unpredictable to begin with. You should almost expect the unexpected. So that brings me to the New Jersey Devils, who were expected to be right next to the Golden Knights in the NHL's cellar, but are off to a 4-1-0 start. However, there is an even bigger surprise within the surprise. That would be Jesper Bratt, the 19-year-old rookie winger from Sweden, only a year removed from being selected 162nd overall in the sixth round. Bratt was on pretty much nobody's radar coming into this season. Why should he have been? It is near impossible for a sixth-rounder to make an NHL roster as a teenager. In fact, no player drafted in the sixth round or later has made the NHL as a teenager since 1995-96 (via's Play Index). Most teams are merely hoping a few of their late picks over several years pan out. Bratt spent last season playing in Sweden's second division with AIK and had a respectable, but not earth-shattering, 22 points in 46 games. It appeared he was destined to join the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights for 2017-18. Then he started turning heads during a rookie tournament and kept excelling in Devils' training camp. Now the kid has three goals and three assists through New Jersey's first five games and has hovered between 16 and 17 minutes of ice time. By the way, of the 28 late draft picks that made the NHL as teenagers, only one scored more than three goals in his rookie season and two had more than six points. By that measure, Bratt is already off to one of the best seasons among his unique draft peers, just five games in. We asked ESPN analyst Barry Melrose to go coast-to-coast and name the most important player for each team this season. Who will be on the spot -- and in the spotlight -- for each squad? The former NHL coach and defenseman dished out some surprises -- and even coined a new superlative for Connor McDavid. Here's Ricky Nolasco Youth jersey Melrose's take on who will be each franchise's difference-maker over the next six months. Tampa Bay Lightning: Victor Hedman. The Lightning have great forwards who can score goals. But the Nashville Predators showed us last season Ricky Nolasco Youth jersey that a good defense can almost win you a Stanley Cup. And Tampa Bay's defense will be better than Nashville's was. If Hedman is not the best defenseman in the world, he's in the top two. Detroit Red Wings: The sad part is, it's Ricky Nolasco Youth jersey still Henrik Zetterberg. And that's why Detroit is struggling. The Red Wings have to find young players who can become the leaders of that team, and someone else to be that go-to guy. They haven't been able to do that yet. Ottawa Senators: Erik Karlsson. If Hedman is not the best defenseman in the world, it's this guy. You saw how, in the playoffs last season, on a bad ankle, he almost single-handedly got Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Final. They lost in overtime in a Game 7. He's great, no doubt about it. Florida Panthers: I think it's Aleksander Barkov. He was drafted second overall in 2013, so the expectations are high. The Panthers have some good, young players. But Barkov is going to to be the guy who changes Florida's fortunes. Boston Bruins: Charlie McAvoy. This kid is great. He's 19, so I'm going future here. It's a lot harder to be a young defenseman in the NHL than to be a young forward. But I think he will Ricky Nolasco Jersey be the next Ray Bourque for the Boston Bruins.
What has been the biggest surprise so far (Post)Greg Wyshynski: "Plan the parade" has, over the years, become a running joke between Toronto Maple Leafs fans and the rest of the hockey universe -- a shared laugh over the delusional hubris that's inherent to Leafs fandom, and really the only thing that's spared them from a descent into complete nihilism through decades of futility. So if the question is, "What is the biggest surprise for me so far?" then the answer would have to be that "plan the parade" has lost its irony. The Maple Leafs are actually good, they're ahead of schedule as Stanley Cup contenders and Auston Matthews actually has a chance to thwart Connor McDavid's predestined second straight Hart Trophy win, should the Leafs make the playoffs again. (OK, maybe not a total surprise: I picked the Leafs to win the Atlantic, although admittedly that was by default.) Simply put, Matthews has been the most impressive player in the NHL through five games. His stats (five goals, three assists) are identical to those of his rookie season, although four of those goals last season came on opening night. But what we're seeing from Matthews in 2017-18 is domination against tougher line matches, better play on the defensive end, clutch scoring with two overtime goals already and a general sense that magic can happen every time he touches the puck. That first goal against the Montreal Canadiens over the weekend? Sickness, to the point where one expected a swarm of doctors in Hazmat suits to hit the ice in an effort to contain it. One of my Leafs fan friends was recently pondering whether Matthews -- 20 years old, 87 games into his career -- is the best Toronto player of the past 40 years, ahead of Hall of Fame names Gilmour and Sundin and Sittler. Much like "plan the parade," it's a statement that normally would draw snorts and groans about Toronto exceptionalism -- the kind of Womens Robert Horry Jersey thing you'd typically hear Don Cherry warble if Matthews was from Stouffville, Ontario, instead of the American desert. But watching the 4-1-0 Leafs, seeing their depth, acknowledging the brilliant minds Womens Robert Horry Jersey that Brendan Shanahan has assembled and witnessing Matthews' undeniable trajectory as a megastar, it's entirely possible the Maple Leafs could be your 2017-18 Stanley Cup champions, Womens Robert Horry Jersey or at the very least your Eastern Conference ones. And I'm as surprised as you are. After an offseason of change, the Blackhawks have started 4-1-1 -- beginning with a wacky but dominant 10-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins -- proving concern over a decline was premature. Brandon Saad (six goals, Womens Robert Horry Jersey two assists) hasn't missed a beat. Patrick Kane (two goals, six assists) is just fine without Artemi Panarin opposite him at wing. Corey Crawford (.960 save percentage, 1.39 goals-against average) leads the way-too-early Vezina conversation, while new faces (Alex DeBrincat, Ryan Hartman, John Hayden and Nick Schmaltz, when he's healthy again) are ready to make the jump as the next wave of homegrown stars. Chicago is the team to beat in the Central, if not the West. But more important: the Blackhawks stay relevant in their city's greater sports landscape. I've lived in Chicago for close to two years, and here's what I'll tell you about the pro sports scene: for the better part of this decade, the Blackhawks have run the show. After decades of ineptitude -- both on the ice and on the business side -- the Blackhawks have been this city's darling since winning the Cup in 2010 (and, of course, again in 2013 and again in 2015). Well, what has happened in the last year? The Cubs aren't just lovable losers, they're lovable winners. The Bears might still be ways away from winning, but they finally have a quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, meaning they're relevant. The Blackhawks' commanding start keeps them on the local newscasts and in the
I'm a huge fan of Gary. I don't know when it was, but I told him (Post)NEW YORK -- Even before Gary Sanchez failed to handle Didi Gregorius' short-hop relay throw on the final play of Game 2 in the American League Championship Series, he was under some scrutiny for his shortcomings behind the Brandon Williams Jersey plate. Scouts, media members and even New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi have weighed in on Sanchez's strengths and flaws and debated the need for improvement for a while now. Amid the praise and the criticism, the most forceful recent endorsement of Sanchez has come from the man he displaced as Yankees catcher 15 months ago -- which tells you everything you need to know about Brian McCann. McCann, in his first season as the Houston Astros' catcher, has been asked about Sanchez multiple times during the ALCS. He unfailingly responds with glowing reviews of Sanchez's skills as a hitter -- something everybody can agree upon -- and also his progress as a defender. "I think he's done an amazing job behind the plate," McCann said. "This isn't easy, putting the gear on every day, Brandon Williams Jersey learning hitters' tendencies and weaknesses and studying [the game]. It's hard, and especially hard in New York. I think he's done exceptionally well. I want to look up in 10 or 15 years and see you continue this success, continue on the grind.' Because there aren't many guys that are willing to put the gear on that can swing the bat like he can." When McCann and outfielder Carlos Beltran suit up for the Astros in Game 3 on Monday night, the baseball world will see two classy, respected veterans who still find a way to contribute when their numbers aren't what they used to be. The Yankees, who know from experience, see Brandon Williams Jersey two avuncular types whose influence lingers in the Bronx long after they've left the premises. Beltran, 40, is in the final stages of a career that will make the Hall of Fame electorate think long and hard about his candidacy for Cooperstown. He passed Billy Williams, Mike Piazza, Cal Ripken Jr., Andruw Jones and Juan Gonzalez on MLB's career home run list with 435 this season, and his 1,078 extra-base hits place him second in baseball history Brandon Williams Jersey to Eddie Murray, who has 1,099. Three of Beltran's 20 seasons came in the Bronx, where he watched Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Starlin Castro, Gregorius and pave the way for a new era of Yankees baseball. Beltran set an example for his teammates with his professionalism, and he felt energized by the atmosphere and the pinstripes. "It's the history of playing with an organization that has had so many great players," Beltran said. "You go to spring training and you're around Jackson and all the old-timers there. That was fun. Or the Old-Timers' Games at Yankee Stadium. I'm a baseball fan, and I saw some of those guys play. When you get close to them, it's an opportunity to learn something." The numbers reflect Beltran's decline and the harsh reality that he's nearing the end. Beltran logged a .231/.283/.383 slash line and a wins above replacement of minus-1.1 as Houston's principal DH this season. That tied him with Philadelphia's Tommy Joseph for third worst in the majors among positional regulars behind Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo.