Carter's strange journey puts him on Game 2 throne

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Carter's strange journey puts him on Game 2 throne

NEWARK, N.J. Every life has its strange, tumultuous twists. Jeff Carters had plenty of his own in just one year, one in which he went from Philadelphia to Columbus to Los Angeles.

So when the good moments come, theyre savored. And after scoring one of the biggest goals of his career on Saturday night, Carter gets the chance to do that now.

Carter scored his first career overtime playoff goal as the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Kings take a 2-0 lead in the series and have now won 10 straight road playoff games. Theyve won 12 in a row dating back to last postseason.

For Carter, it was especially sweet. A year of tumult and team moves landed him in Los Angeles, where he could get a fresh start and the Kings could get an offensive boost. Its worked out for both, and Carter came through with a big one on Saturday night.

You just want to put it on net as much as you can. (Dustin Penner) did a great job to get in front of Marty (Brodeur). I dont know if he saw the shot, Carter said. Its a pretty special moment. Obviously any time you play in the finals its exciting. But scoring an overtime goal to get up 2-0 is pretty special.

Drew Doughty put the Kings up in the first period, darting through the Devils on a move that was highlight-reel worthy. But Ryan Carter redirected a Marek Zidlicky shot to tie in the third period, setting up overtime. The Kings outshot the Devils 11-3 in the extra frame. On the game-winner, Carter came from behind the net and circled wide as the Devils converged down in front. It looked like Carter was going to pass it off at first but instead took the shot, which beat Brodeur low, stick side.

Our defensemen were open, too. But you could tell he wanted to shoot that, and hes got a great shot. Beauty shot, low blocker and found a hole, Jarret Stoll said. Hes been in the media a lot, lot of story lines, but hes been a great addition to our team. Hes solidified our lineup and made us a lot better. Thats a big goal, a huge goal for him.

Carter now has 10 points this postseason.

That was a huge effort on that goal, defenseman Matt Greene said. Its good to get a guy like him going. He scores in bunches. Hopefully he gets hot and we ride him a little bit.

Carter has found a good niche with the Kings. He scored, arguably, the biggest goal of his career on Saturday night. And hes gotten the Kings that much closer to their ultimate goal.

I think this is by far the biggest for sure, Carter said of his goal. Its a huge one, a big one for the team. We get this to where we wanted it to be.

LeBron James breaks Michael Jordan's record by becoming NBA's all-time leading playoff scorer

LeBron James breaks Michael Jordan's record by becoming NBA's all-time leading playoff scorer

The LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate tends to heat up around playoff time, and The King fueled the fire Thursday with his latest accomplishment.

After sinking a 3-pointer in the third quarter of Game 5 against the Boston Celtics, the four-time NBA MVP surpassed Jordan for most postseason points in league history with 5,989. Jordan scored 5,987 points in 179 games while it took James 212 to surpass that mark.

Before the game, James said that chasing Jordan has been a personal goal of his and left the debate to media members.

The SportsTalk Live panel talked about those comments, and joined in on the debate in the video above.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.