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    August 8, 2018 11:52 PM PDT
    Dmitry Orlov scoring on Sergei Bobrovsky is a popular clip at a bar in their hometown in southwestern Siberia.

    ”They always show my goal to him http://www.chargersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-uchenna-nwosu-jersey ,” Orlov said. ”My friends said that.”

    Orlov and Bobrovsky are good friends going back to their time growing up together and have played together on the Russian national team with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Artemi Panarin. They’re split on opposite sides of a first-round series between Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov’s Washington Capitals and Bobrovsky and Panarin’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Game 1 is Thursday night in Washington.

    ”They’re good players, obviously, and we need to work (against) them,” Orlov said. ”Panarin have good skill so we need to not give him a lot of space and Bob we need to put more shots, more traffic on him. If we win, it will be nice.”

    Perhaps not since the Detroit Red Wings’ Russian Five has a Stanley Cup playoff series had so many prominent players from Russia, with all eyes on those them as potential X-factors. It starts with Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender who aims to rebound from starting his NHL playoff career 3-10 with a 3.63 goals-against average and .887 save percentage.

    ”He’s going to rise to the occasion http://www.broncosauthorizedshops.com/authentic-josey-jewell-jersey ,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. ”He has every time he’s been challenged. If I had to pick anybody in the league to go into the playoffs with it would be him, and I think he’s pretty confident about the team in front of him.”

    The team in front of Bobrovsky is led by Panarin, whose 82 points are 25 more than the second-closest Columbus player.

    ”The Blue Jackets have added a guy like Panarin, I think he’s a little bit of that difference make, just like we have some difference makers,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. ”They can do some things that they maybe didn’t have in the past. He’s an exceptional player. We’ve got some exceptional players. Sometimes in those tight series, those exceptional players can be the difference.”

    Ovechkin has made a difference all year, leading the NHL with 49 goals and scoring 19.1 percent of the Capitals’ total over the course of the 82-game regular season. Kuznetsov caught fire late, recording 11 goals and 17 assists in the final 18 games of the regular season.

    ”I would say he is mature, understands the game Ronnie Harrison Color Rush Jersey ,” Ovechkin said of Kuznetsov. ”Everybody knew he would be a very good, solid player, a talent, and you can see how he plays right now.”

    Some things to watch when Columbus and Washington meet in the playoffs for the first time:

    GRUBAUER HOUR

    Backup Philipp Grubauer got the nod to start Game 1 for the Capitals over 2016 Vezina winner and longtime No. 1 goaltender Braden Holtby. The 26-year-old German started a playoff game in place of Holtby in 2015 because of an illness, but he earned the starting job this time around by closing out the season 7-3-0 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. Holtby went into a slump in February and March, opening the door for Grubauer to seize the opportunity. But Trotz only named Grubauer his starter for Game 1 and said he’ll take the decision game by game.

    TORTORELLA TIME

    Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella will face the Capitals in a playoff series for the sixth time after going 3-2 with the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers. Tortorella has beaten – and lost to – Washington this time of year with less-talented teams than he has right now, particularly after the addition of winger Thomas Vanek and defenseman Ian Cole at the trade deadline made Columbus a high-scoring machine.

    ”I think we’re playing some of our best hockey, both as a group and certainly the individuals,” Tortorella said. ”I think with them and the additions at the deadline, I think our group feels really good about itself.”

    ACTIVE D

    Washington’s John Carlson led all NHL defenseman with 68 points in the regular season and yet still might not be the best on the blue line in this series. Columbus has Norris Trophy dark horse Seth Jones http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-kendall-wright-jersey , who along with Zack Werenski give the Blue Jackets some serious offense.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    One area the Capitals have a huge advantage is on the power play and penalty kill, where they’re ranked seventh and 15th in the league. The Blue Jackets are 15th on the power play and 26th on the penalty kill. Since the trade deadline, though, Columbus has scored on 25 percent of its power plays.

    AP Sports Writer Mitch Stacy in Columbus, Ohio, contributed.

     

    HOUSTON — With shortstop Carlos Correa battling what was described as back stiffness, Astros manager A.J. Hinch opted to keep Correa out of the lineup Tuesday against Toronto.

    Correa, batting .268 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs, missed his eighth game of the season. Hinch is an advocate of resting his primary regulars and with Houston playing a day game Wednesday following their 7-0 victory Tuesday night, he opted to give Correa a break with the club also facing a grueling stretch of play over the coming weeks.

    “We’re playing 23 out of 24 days. We’re in the midst of the grind of the season before the All-Star break and I’m always looking for a day off Authentic Rasmus Dahlin Jersey ,” Hinch said. “We’ve talked about rest for the better part of the last couple of weeks. There’s another day coming probably for him and there’s probably another day off for George (Springer), maybe even one for Jose (Altuve) before the break. All of that added up, it made for an easy (decision) not to play him.”

    Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-8, 3.90 ERA) will start the series finale for the Astros (53-28).

    Keuchel posted his second consecutive start without allowing an earned run on June 22 against the Kansas City Royals, surrendering six hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings. He is 3-0 with a 3.62 ERA over four career starts against the Blue Jays, last facing Toronto on May 15, 2015, and allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks over six innings in an 8-4 home victory.

    Right-hander Marco Estrada (4-7, 4.48 ERA) will start the rubber match for Toronto (37-42). Estrada has pitched exceptionally this month, going 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA and 26 strikeouts over four starts and 25 2/3 innings while limiting opposing batters to a .510 OPS. He is 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA over 12 career appearances (six starts) against Houston.

    Blue Jays All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson experienced a setback while rehabbing the left calf injury that landed him on the 10-day disabled list May 29. Donaldson was preparing to play in a rehab game in Florida and sustained an injury while taking ground balls. An MRI revealed an acute strain of the left calf Russell Bodine Color Rush Jersey , and Donaldson will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

    Donaldson was trending toward a return to action, perhaps as soon as this weekend against the Detroit Tigers. He has suffered through a largely lost season, logging 36 games with five home runs and 16 RBIs. Donaldson missed his 25th consecutive game Tuesday and 43rd overall this season, with the Blue Jays dropping to 21-22 without him in their lineup.

    Donaldson, a free agent following the season, could be a trade chip at the non-waiver deadline next month, but his injury situation leaves that immediate future murky at best.

    “The previous week we thought there was a chance,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He was moving along fine and then something happened. What are you going to do?

    “It’s been a frustrating year for him. He’s actually hanging in there OK considering. But he’s frustrated.”

    .