Subiect: Frankie Montas

Jon Cooper searched for adequate words to describe the feeling of coming within one victory of playing for the Stanley Cup.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have done it twice in the past three years. And it hurts.

”It’s everything from agonizing to angry to disappointed to shock Zack Martin Jersey ,” the coach said Thursday, less than 24 hours after one of the most successful seasons in franchise history came to a screeching halt with a 4-0 loss to Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.

”I’m sure that’s going to turn into proud and happy for our group,” he added. ”There are so many good emotions about coaching this team … but the emotions of how it ended is tough.”

After compiling the best record in the Eastern Conference during the regular season, eliminating the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins in the first two rounds of the playoffs, and rebounding from losing the first games of the conference final to take a 3-2 series lead, the Lightning truly believed this was their year.

Now, general manager Steve Yzerman and Cooper face decisions about what needs to be tweaked.

The Lightning won Game 7 of the conference final against the Rangers in 2015, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in franchise history. They made it back to the East final, only to lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games two years ago.

”If anybody sits and says it was an unsuccessful season, I have to question that. You look back at this team. All the accomplishments of the regular season, and then to be one game away from getting to the Stanley Cup Final,” Cooper said, his voice trailing off.

”Now it’s just solving that piece of the puzzle,” the coach added, ”getting over the top.”

With a talented roster that’s both deep and fairly young, there won’t be wholesale changes.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy Thurman Thomas Jersey , a Vezina Trophy finalist in his first full season as a starter, is just 23 years old.

Leading scorer Nikita Kucherov is 24, Norris Trophy finalist Victor Hedman is 27, and emerging star Brayden Point is just 22.

Even captain Steven Stamkos, completing his 10th NHL season, is only 28.

”What were we missing? A couple of goals in Game 7,” Cooper said. ”You can sit here and pick apart all you want of what went wrong, it was one game. We didn’t score and we lost the game. They were opportunistic and scored, and they advanced. … It’s razor-thin how close this league is.”

Yzerman said there are a number of areas where the Lightning need to get better moving forward, including defensively.

The GM, however, rejected the notion that somehow the season was a failure because a team with such high expectations didn’t get back to the championship round.

”It’s really difficult to win the Stanley Cup, and if you’re going to measure every year strictly on it’s a failure if we win or not, I don’t think I look at it that way,” Yzerman said.

”There’s a process and there’s no definitive timeline for it. Just continue to improve, continue to hang around Mark Walton Jersey , I guess, and we’re going to win one of these things,” the GM added. ”It’s not a failure. It’s a disappointment at this stage, but we’re not sitting here saying we’re the best team by a mile. We realize there’s a bunch of good teams out there, a group of teams that could win the Stanley Cup.”

Cooper said one thing it’s important to not do this summer is over-react.

”It’s hard to explain just how hard it is to get here,” the coach said. ”There are 30 teams who are going to get Monday morning quarterbacked, and one team that is not. You just have to build on your strengths and keep getting better and come back next year stronger than ever.”

Summer play is a grind for the Miami Heat.

They like it that way.

Miami is one of eight teams doubling up on summer leagues this year, and when the biggest one in NBA history opens on Friday in Las Vegas – all 30 franchises are sending a club to the primary summer league for the first time – the Heat think that getting three games under their belt already will be a big help.

The first summer league hosted by the Sacramento Kings, the California Classic, came to a close Thursday. Golden State beat the Los Angeles Lakers 77-71, and Miami topped Sacramento 86-76.

Play in the Utah Jazz Summer League also wrapped up Thursday, with San Antonio beating Memphis 94-87 and Utah beating Atlanta 92-87 in the finale – the memorable moment there being when Jazz guard Grayson Allen and Hawks guard Trae Young scuffled briefly in the third quarter .

It was much ado about very little; Allen and Young both earned technical fouls.

But it does speak to how seriously the players take the games at this time of year.

The Heat flew cross-country for their summer league training camp in Sacramento, doing so because playing in the second league ensures that the team will appear in at least eight summer games instead of the five that are guaranteed to teams who play only in Las Vegas.

And they saw players get better in the three Sacramento games, perhaps giving them – and the other seven clubs that played in the early leagues – a leg up on competition they’ll see in Vegas.

”I’m not interested in playing guys five minutes one game, five minutes the next game,” Heat summer league coach Eric Glass said. ”I’d rather play a guy 15 minutes in one game and sit him in the next game so we can get a rhythm. And you can get better in the gym by yourself Kelvin Benjamin Jersey , but playing organized basketball is the best way to improve and these guys get three weeks of that.”

Starting Friday, every summer game left on the NBA schedule happens on two courts at UNLV. Unlike the Sacramento and Utah leagues, there’s a true playoff system in Las Vegas and a champion will be crowned on July 17.

For all eight teams that have played this week, it’s a quick turnaround to get ready for Las Vegas. Most of the eight teams get Friday off, the lone exception being Golden State – which meets the Los Angeles Clippers in the 10th and final game on the Las Vegas opening-day slate.

The main attraction on Day 1 in Las Vegas is the 9:30 p.m. EDT game between Phoenix and Dallas. The Suns have No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton set to make his debut, though it’s almost certain that Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic – the No. 3 pick and whose European pro season ended just days before the draft – will not play in his team’s summer opener.

Ayton will likely see a few NBA stars when he gets to Vegas. He’s already been blown away by a WNBA star – Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi.

When he met her, with Taurasi walking over to greet him as he went through a weight-room session, even the NBA’s No. 1 pick was star struck.

”She is the Michael Jordan of the WNBA,” Ayton said.

Doncic still hasn’t gotten the clearance to sign his contract and hasn’t participated in a live practice with Dallas’ summer club yet.

”We’re getting close to getting those things done, but we’re not there yet,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. ”But he will be in Vegas. He is going to continue to ramp up his workload.”

Thursday’s recaps:

WARRIORS 77, LAKERS 71

Marcus Derrickson led the way for Golden State (3-0) with 24 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Omari Johnson scored 15 and Gian Clavell added 10 for the Warriors, who gave Damian Jones and Jordan Bell the day off.

Xavier Rathan-Mayes scored 14 points and handed out eight assists for the Lakers. Moe Wagner scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Nick King also scored 13 and Jeffrey Carroll added 11 for the Lakers.

HEAT 86, KINGS 76

Derrick Jones Jr. had 19 points for Miami (2-1) Ndamukong Suh Jersey , which got 14 from Bam Adebayo, 12 – all on 3-pointers – from Duncan Robinson and 10 points and seven assists from Derrick Walton Jr.

Justin Jackson scored 26 for Sacramento (1-2). Harry Giles and Cam Reynolds each had 11 points for the Kings.

SPURS 94, GRIZZLIES 87

Derrick White made five 3-pointers and finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists for San Antonio (2-1). Lonnie Walker IV added 14 for the Spurs, who led by as many as 18 in the second half.

Wayne Selden led the Grizzlies (2-1) with 26 points, shooting 6 for 7 from 3-point range.

JAZZ 92, HAWKS 87

The shooting numbers for Young and Allen might have added to their frustration.

Young shot 3 for 16, 1 for 8 from 3-point range – meaning in his three games at Utah, he was 12 for 52 from the floor, 3 for 24 from beyond the arc. Allen’s shooting numbers were even worse: He was 6 for 29 in in two games during the event, including 2 for 13 on Thursday.

Stanton Kidd, Georges Niang and Tony Bradley all finished with 15 points for Utah (2-1). Allen had eight assists and Bradley grabbed 12 rebounds.

Tyler Dorsey scored 17 and Antonius Cleveland and Jaylen Morris each added 14 for the Hawks (0-3). Young had seven assists and Omari Spellman had 10 rebounds.

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