With every game that Washington wins, that magical 6-3 matchup is starting to look less and less appealing. I was all for playing the Southeast Division “Champs” when that meant playing the Winnipeg Jets. But Adam Oates’ system finally seems to have clicked with these players, and the Caps are looking unbeatable. Washington is 9-0-1 in their last 10; everyone is healthy; and it doesn’t need saying since everyone is saying it, but Ovechkin is looking like one of the best players in the world again.
At least Ottawa gets to play the Caps twice in their last seven games of the season. This should give everyone a good idea of how they line up against one another. I can imagine the scrappy Sens giving a finesse team like the Caps fits around their own net, which would be a welcome change given the Senators’ playoff history. But I never thought I would say this: as the Caps keep pumping and the Habs start falling apart, that 7-2 matchup against the suddenly terrible Carey Price and the Habs’ porous defense is starting to look good. Although, at the rate they’re playing, they won’t hold down the number two seed for too long. It’ll be Boston.
Erik Karlsson’s Unearthly Return
The night following Erik Karlsson’s gruesome injury, I wrote a tearful entry about how devastating it was to this team—not just to their playoff chances, and not just to the prospect of watching fun hockey, but to the notion that a unique player may not ever be the same. That was a worst-case scenario, to be sure, but the number of people in Ottawa reading about Achilles lacerations that week must have been astounding, and we all read the same things—four-six months recovery, then hardcore rehab; the whole season was lost, and the offseason, and maybe even the start of next season.
Now, just two months later, Karlsson is skating with full gear on, and Bryan Murray is saying in interviews that he could be back in time for the playoffs – which are about a half-dozen games away. That’s just unreal.
I don’t have a unique perspective on this one, except to say how awesome it is, and how special Karlsson’s work ethic (and healing power) has to be for this to be true. There are always a number of worthy candidates for the Masterton trophy (awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance) – Josh Harding comes to mind – but you have to think Karlsson will be on the shortlist this year if he comes back.
2014 Outdoor Game
Ottawa gets an outdoor game against Vancouver, and I find myself wondering how all of these relatively warm weather locales are going to host outdoor winter games. I lived in Vancouver for a while; I remember the winters being very wet and maybe reaching -5C. Apparently this is a small fish problem because there’s also going to be an outdoor game in Los Angeles? Am I missing something here? Has outdoor water-freezing technology taken leaps and bounds in the last couple of years?
My second question is immediately and most importantly: does Ottawa dig out the barber pole jerseys for this game? Between those and the classically ugly Canucks jerseys of yesteryear, we could have a Make Your Eyeballs Bleed Matchup