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 Post subject: Western Conference
PostPosted: 24 Jan 2019, 04:03 
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SAO PAULO - Landon Donovan says the United States will head to the World Cup with its most experienced group of players, giving the Americans a "real chance" to do well at this years tournament. As the U.S. finishes a week-and-a-half training camp in the host country, Donovan said American players have enough confidence and experience to confront more traditional World Cup teams heading into a first round that includes matches against Germany, Portugal and Ghana. "I think the experience that we have now far exceeds the experience that we ever had with any team, and that lines up to give us a real chance," Donovan said Thursday. "We are confident in how we play. We are confident in what we do. Our guys have had enough experiences against all of these players, against teams like Ghana, Portugal, Germany. ... We feel confident that we can get results against them, and thats a nice feeling going into a World Cup." The U.S. opens against Ghana on June 16, plays Cristiano Ronaldos Portugal six days later and closes the group stage against Germany on June 26. The Americans will be playing in their seventh straight World Cup, and Donovan is heading to his fourth. "Theres never been competition for places like there is in our team now," the midfielder said during a news conference. "You can really make a case for probably 35 or 40 guys to be a part of a 23-man roster, and thats never been the case. Its really up for grabs in a lot of positions, and that in itself obviously creates competition, which makes the team better." Donovan, who turns 32 in March, said the U.S. team is more respected by opponents. "The reason its the group of death is because we are in it," he said. "In the past, it would have been a relatively easier group for Germany or Ghana or Portugal because they had us in it. But now, because we are in it, it makes it one of the most difficult groups in the tournament." Donovan said the first goal remains to reach the knockout stage of the 32-nation tournament. "Our expectations, like most teams, are to get out of the group," he said. "We are aware that we have a difficult group, but the expectation is that we can do it and we are going to try to get out of our group, just like most teams in this World Cup. That is the objective. That is the goal. But we feel good about where we are at." German coach Jurgen Klinsmann brought 26 players to this training camp get acclimated to the teams World Cup base in South Americas biggest city. The team, mostly with players from Major League Soccer, will play an exhibition against South Korea on Feb. 1 at Carson, Calif. "Weve been very lucky to have two weeks here in Sao Paulo," Donovan said. "Its been very nice to have a couple of weeks to adapt to what its going to be like this summer. When we come back we have a comfort level. We know the people, the club, the training facilities. It makes it a lot easier. You get a feeling for what its like here, and it helps a lot." Klinsmann is expected to visit the Arena da Amazonia on Friday in the jungle city of Manaus, where the U.S. will play Portugal. . The alley-oop looked easy -- just like everything else after halftime for the Miami Heat. James scored 32 points, Wade added 22 points and eight assists, and the Heat trailed by 11 early in the second half before running away to a 107-88 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night. . Both sides came closest to scoring in the first half, when Roma had a goal from Mattia Destro waved off for offside and Inters Rodrigo Palacio headed high. "A draw was a fair result. Neither squad had many chances," Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic said. .com) - They didnt meet in the regular season, so Sam Houston State might be saying it won the de facto title game between the two Southland Conference co-champions Saturday. .com) - Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett is active for Sundays matchup with the Miami Dolphins. . Pistorius denied the allegation that he said to the close friend of the girlfriend he killed: "How can you sleep at night?" The accusation by Kim Myers provided a bizarre twist during the trial of the world-famous double-amputee Olympian, who is facing 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder for shooting dead Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, at his home last year.The Anaheim Ducks open the playoffs as the Wests top seed and hope to get a quick start on Wednesday when they host the Dallas Stars at the Honda Center for Game 1 of a best-of-seven series. You can catch all of the action live on TSN with coverage beginning at 9:30pm et/6:30pm pt. Few teams looked as unbeatable as the Ducks at the start of the season. But after a dominating effort for a good part of the season, Anaheim started to slip a bit heading into the Olympic break and had posted a mark of just 14-12-3 during a 29-game span from Jan. 17-April 6. The Ducks then capped the regular season with four straight victories, but presumed playoff starter Jonas Hiller was not in net for any of those games. Hiller, in fact, did not play in seven of Anaheims final eight games and has not won since March 26. Still, head coach Bruce Boudreau is likely to go with Hiller over the inexperienced Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, neither of whom have ever played in an NHL playoff game. Hillers postseason numbers are not terrible, with the 32-year-old pending free agent having gone 10-10 with a 2.31 goals against average, .935 save percentage and three shutouts in 20 games. Given the fact that the Ducks led the NHL with 3.21 goals per game this season, Boudreau may be able to roll the dice with Hiller and hope the netminder can recapture the form that saw him post a club-record 14-game winning streak from Dec. 6-Jan. 12. Forward Corey Perry was second in the league with 43 goals to go along with a plus-32 rating, while center Ryan Getzlaf finished fifth in the NHL with 56 assists and second to only Pittsburghs Sidney Crosby in points with 87. Ducks winger Teemu Selanne is expected to retire at seasons end and the 43- year-old could have some extra juice for this postseason. He comes into the series having totaled 42 goals and 82 points in 118 career playoff games. "This is the best time for hockey players," Selanne said. "Youve got to enjoy every day and every moment. Every little thing matters. Even a little thing can turn the whole series around." The Stars overhauled their identity this past offseason in an effort to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008. It worked. Under the guidance of first-year coach Lindy Ruff and offensive threat Tyler Seguin, the Stars claimed the Western Conferences second wild card position. Sure, they got some help from a slumping Phoenix Coyotes club, which had lost seven straight before beating the Stars in a meaningless regular-season finale, and Dallas did just enough by going 3-4-0 down the stretch, but the results are in the bottom line. And what a line it was for Seguin, who the Stars acquired this past offseason from the Boston Bruins. The 22-year-old brought rumors of immaturity with him to Dallas, but with the Stars all he did was show the skill that led to him being the second overall pick of the 2010 draft. Seguin led Dallas across the board with 37 goals, 47 assists and 84 points -- all career highs -- andd now brings 42 games of playoff experience to the Stars.dddddddddddd Seguin has six goals and 12 assists in the postseason and was part of the Cup- winning 2010-11 Bruins club. His presence also helped Stars captain Jamie Benn soar to new heights. The winger set new career highs with 34 goals, 45 assists and 79 points in 81 games, and the duo of Seguin and Benn was a big reason that the Stars finished 10th in the NHL with 2.82 goals per game. Six other Dallas skaters reached double figures in goals, including Ryan Garbutt (17 goals) and Cody Eakin and Erik Cole, who had 16 goals apiece. Rookies Valeri Nichushkin (10th overall pick of the 2010 draft) and Alex Chiasson also were steady contributors and Dallas has veteran depth in Ray Whitney and Shawn Horcoff. Defensively, Alex Goligoski had an excellent campaign, with his 42 points a career high and his best total since logging 37 points with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009-10. However, inexperience could be an issue in net with No. 1 Kari Lehtonen, who owns just two career playoff games to his resume and none since 2006-07 with the Atlanta Thrashers. He was solid this regular season, going 33-20-10 with a 2.41 goals against average and .919 save percentage. Should Lehtonen struggle early, Ruff will have the option of going to veteran Tim Thomas, acquired at this years trade deadline. Thomas didnt wow in eight games with Dallas, but has outstanding playoff numbers at 29-21 with a 2.07 GAA, .933 save percentage and six shutouts. Of course, he also won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy with Boston in 2011. The Stars won two of their three meetings with the Ducks this season, with the clubs exchanging 6-3 home victories before Dallas claimed a 2-0 win at Anaheim on Feb. 1. Lehtonen did not face the Ducks this season and is 9-7-3 with a 2.41 GAA against them in 19 career meetings. Hiller went 0-2 with a 3.91 GAA in three meetings this season, pulled in the first meeting in Anaheim back on Oct. 20. "We know them well and we?ve had some success against them," said Goligoski. "Theyre fast and theyre a bigger team, and they obviously had a great season. Were looking forward to the challenge." This marks the third all-time playoff meeting between these clubs and first since the Stars bested the Ducks in six games during the 2008 Western Conference quarterfinals. That avenged a six-game series loss to Anaheim in the 2003 semifinals. Anaheim also will host Game 2 of this series on Friday. The Ducks were 29-8-4 as the home team this season, while Dallas was just 17-20-4 as the visitors. Projected Ducks Lines Beleskey - Getzlaf - PerryWinnik - Bonino - PalmieriCogliano - Koivu - SilfverbergMaroon - Perrault - Selanne Lindholm - BeaucheminFowler - Lovejoy Allen - Robidas Anderson starts Projected Stars Lines Benn - Seguin - NichushkinRoussel - Eakin - GarbuttCole - Fiddler - SceviourWhitney - Horcoff - Chiasson Goligoski - DaleyNemoth - BennRome - Gonchar Lehtonen starts ' ' '


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