Ex-Hawk Fraser helps Kings take Game 1

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Ex-Hawk Fraser helps Kings take Game 1

NEWARK, N.J. Colin Fraser likes to joke around with his L.A. Kings teammates about his goal-scoring ability. The former Blackhawks forwards timing on getting his first postseason one couldnt have been better.

Fraser scored the first goal of his NHL playoff career on Wednesday night, and Anze Kopitar had the breakaway winner in overtime as the Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night. It was another road victory for the Kings, who are a perfect 9-0 away from home during these playoffs.

And it was a chance for Fraser, who was with the Blackhawks organization from 2004 to 2010, to score that infrequent goal at a critical time.

It feels like it was a long time coming, Fraser said afterward. Its not my No.-1 role but we all want to chip in when we can. Im not going to change the way I play but hopefully Ill get another one.

Frasers first was a big one, a wrister he tallied after Jordan Nolan forced a turnover to give the Kings a 1-0 lead midway through the first period.

I just tried to find an open area high, Fraser said. He hit me high and I was just trying to get it off as fast as I could. Nolan was the guy who forced the turnover and did the work.

Fraser got the finish but he didnt get the puck. Still, the work he and fellow fourth liners Nolan and Brad Richardson did boosted the Kings in the early going.

They probably had one of the best games in the playoffs so far, said Kopitar. They had some good ones before, but tonight they capped it off with a nice goal and that definitely got us going in the first period. We came out slower than we wanted to, and the way they established the forecheck gave us a huge boost.

Jonathan Quick did the rest for the Kings, stopping 17 of 18. But it wasnt a night of big shots for either team. The Devils had just five shots in the first period, didnt get their first of the second period until about halfway through it. Yet they tied the game at 1-1 when Anton Volchenkovs shot went off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and past Quick.

Martin Brodeur showed his vintage side a few times in Game 1, including on a stellar pad save late in the third period. But the Kings were relentless in their pursuit, and it paid off in overtime. Justin Williams backhanded a pass to Kopitar, who skated wide open down the middle and wristed one off a sprawling Brodeur to clinch Game 1.

I saw (Williams) on the boards battling and I wanted to make sure I went through the middle, Kopitar said. I yelled for the puck and he threw it perfect, right on my tape. I was able to finish it off.

The Kings have gotten to this point for a few reasons, Quicks work throughout certainly being one of them. But its also about everyone contributing. Scoring isnt Frasers strong suit. But it suited him just fine in Game 1.

I always joke around, Fraser said. Its not my No. 1 thing, (scoring), but I always give it to the boys about how Im going to score one tonight. I was lucky to get one tonight. Hopefully Ill get more in the future.

Raiders' move to Las Vegas approved by NFL owners: When's Bears' first trip to Sin City?

Raiders' move to Las Vegas approved by NFL owners: When's Bears' first trip to Sin City?

The Oakland Raiders won't be the Oaklnad Raiders for much longer.

NFL owners approved by a 31-1 vote Monday the Raiders' move to Las Vegas, meaning Sin City will soon have its own NFL team.

With the Raiders playing in the AFC, the move doesn't affect the Bears much. But there eventually will be a road trip to Nevada.

When's the first time the Bears could play in Vegas?

Now, that's contingent on a couple things.

First, the NFL needs to keep its current scheduling model, which pits certain divisions against one another every few seasons.

Second, will the Raiders even be playing in Vegas by 2019?

A new stadium needs to be built, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday that the Raiders will stay in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, potentially getting to Vegas for the 2019 season — when the Bears could play there in the team's inaugural campaign in the desert. But a new stadium might not be done by then, keeping the Raiders in Vegas another season. Or, maybe the Raiders could play where UNLV plays.

Whether it's two years down the road or more, there will one day be a Bears road trip to Vegas, one it's fairly certain Chicago fans will be interested in joining.

Archie Miller a good hire at Indiana, but his promotion to the big time comes with big-time expectations

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USA TODAY

Archie Miller a good hire at Indiana, but his promotion to the big time comes with big-time expectations

Archie Miller is the new Indiana head basketball coach, and while that gives Indiana the big splash it wanted for Tom Crean's successor, it remains to be seen whether it will please the Indiana fan base and its monster-sized expectations.

Miller is a great get for the Hoosiers, a guy who's taken the Dayton Flyers to four straight NCAA tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2014, a round the Hoosiers themselves haven't reached in 15 years. Miller has Big Ten experience, a former Thad Matta assistant at Ohio State, and he has experience recruiting in Big Ten Country.

He's been in line for a promotion from the A-10 to a major-conference program for a couple years now, and he was one of the biggest names at that level that Indiana or any other major-conference program looking for a new coach could have snagged.

But weren't Indiana fans expecting Steve Alford to come back to Bloomington?

Keeping in line with the enormous expectations this fan base always seems to have for this program, the internet was hoping athletics director Fred Glass could woo the former Indiana star back to his alma mater, pry him away from the most tradition-rich program in the country to spearhead a rebuilding effort for the team that finished tied for 10th in the Big Ten standings this season.

Those hopes seemed pretty unrealistic from the beginning — though it is difficult to argue with the immense financial attractiveness any Big Ten program has — but a perfect example of the kind of expectations that await Miller.

Marquette is plenty of distance up the college-basketball ladder from Dayton, but it was Crean, too, who made a career leap to the Hoosiers almost a decade ago. Crean's nine-year tenure featured some program-saving digging out from the horrendous spot Kelvin Sampson left things in. It also featured two outright Big Ten championships and three seasons of 27 or more wins. But all that couldn't keep the crushing expectations off Crean's shoulders, and one season after he won a conference title in one of the toughest conference's in college hoops, he was out.

Crean's kind of success wasn't good enough at Indiana. Will Miller's be?

Of course there was inconsistency that accompanied Crean's winning. The Hoosiers were just two wins above .500 this season, the same thing that was true a season after Indiana earned a No. 1 seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament. The two winningest seasons during Crean's tenure were followed by years in which Indiana didn't make the NCAA tournament. Not the kind of trajectory a program expecting a national championship wants to see, hence his firing.

But that goes to show how tough the task is in Bloomington, not necessarily when it comes to building a winner but when it comes to pleasing the folks in this basketball-loving state.

That's Miller's job now, and there likely won't be too long of a honeymoon period. Miller won at the lower levels of college basketball, winning 102 games over the past four seasons, but the Big Ten is a different animal. Another former Matta assistant, John Groce, found that out over his five seasons at Illinois. After getting hired off a Sweet Sixteen run at Ohio, Groce made the NCAA tournament just once in his five seasons in Champaign, the reason for the Big Ten's other coaching change this offseason.

Miller comes to Indiana with a better resume than Groce brought to Illinois — the A-10 is a much better league on an annual basis than the MAC, and Miller did more consistent winning over a longer stretch — but with a similar challenge ahead of him. Illini fans soured on Groce relatively quick, with questions about his job status lingering for a couple of years before he was fired earlier this month. Certainly Crean was never free from questions about his job status during his time in Bloomington, not even getting them to go away with a Big Ten championship last season. Will Hoosier fans treat Miller any differently if a deep tournament run doesn't come in one of Miller's first few seasons?

Of course, that all comes with the territory of being a college basketball coach, and Miller knows that well from his time as a major-conference assistant and with his brother the head coach at Arizona. But now he has to live it every day.

Miller is a great hire by Glass. It's time to find out if Indiana and its sky-high expectations make for a great landing spot for Miller.