Wednesday Roundup/Gamenight: 'Canes @ Caps

[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview - Official Game Day Thread]

Strap yourselves in for tonight's game four of the Caps five-game mini-series with the Whalers Candycanes. To recap, the Caps took the first two games in Hartford Raleigh, then dropped the third in OT. Now it's back to the Verizon for some home cookin'. One hopes that the intensity of Monday night carries over to tonight, but one also hopes that the rebounds and poor defensive coverage do not.

Speaking of poor coverage, how about this from the Raleigh News & Observer:
But [Mark Recchi, Ray Whitney and Doug Weight] were brought aboard to do more than score, something Weight showed during the second period. After Washington's Jeff Friesen fought Staal, Weight invited Friesen to fight when he returned from the penalty box, even though the two are friends.
...and even though Friesen was traded to Anaheim nearly a month ago? Don't newspapers have editors anymore, or is this just a Southern thing? [Thanks to Netsy for the RNO link, and if the rest of you aren't checking out his previews at the top of the Official Game Day Threads, you're really missing out on some great humor and information, as well as perhaps the best avatar you'll ever see.]

Back to the game at hand, twenty-five years ago tonight, Dennis Maruk potted a hat trick to become the first Capital to score 50 goals in a season. Could the Caps induct a new member into the 50-goal club tonight? Regardless of if/when Alex Ovechkin reaches that milestone, Martin Brodeur says the young Russian "will easily win the Calder." But I'm on to you, Marty. Your Jedi mind tricks won't work in these parts, and just for that, I am positive that you'll get a shutout tonight against Pittsburgh. You're impenetrable. Unbeatable. Shutout, shutout, shutout.

And while we're talking about the Calder Trophy and Penguins getting shutout (man, I'm on fire with the segues today), how does Sidney Crosby feel about winning the Rookie of the Year? Apparently he can do without it. Which is good. Because he'll have to. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's article all but conceding the rookie scoring race (newsflash!) intimates that Ovechkin is a selfish, shot-happy puck hog while Crosby is a selfless playmaker, and to back up that implication the article notes that Sid's shooting percentage is a whopping 1 percent higher (13.7% to 12.7%) and that Crosby has more assists (51 to 47 in one additional game played). Maybe Sid is the better distributor. Or maybe he's been playing with much better players all year. You can decide for yourself, but on your way to doing so, consider that Ziggy Palffy - who retired in mid-January - would still be third on the Caps in scoring this year.

Today's Roundup has been all over the road, so I'll tidily wrap it up with the local coverage, an article from the WTimes on AO's impending milestones (the WaPo doesn't have any new Caps coverage online, which is fine - just leave that Kornheiser article on the front page of the Caps coverage for another day. That'd be great. Thanks.) and leave you to ponder this quote from the WTimes' article:
When he's not causing headaches for opposing goalies, Alex Ovechkin always seems to be planning some sort of mischief. He often tips his hand with a not-to-subtle glance in the direction of a potential victim. He hides his moods with the finesse of a leprechaun.
What the hell does that mean?

Thread of the Day: 'Canes Living, Skating Proof That New NHL Works (not everyone is sold, however)

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
  • Here's a great stat to get you in the mood for the playoffs: Martin Brodeur has 9,000 career minutes played in the playoffs while the rest of the starting goalies for the current Eastern Conference playoff teams have a combined total of 165 playoff minutes (145 minutes for John Grahame and 20 minutes for Baby Food from back in 2003, which means that five Eastern Conference goalies will likely be making their playoff debuts). So don't count the Devils out quite yet... (thanks to fjc33 for the stat)
  • Who was the NHL's most clutch skater in March? I'll give you a hint: his name is Alexander Ovechkin.
  • Ray Emery is your Rookie of the Month for March, beating out the forementioned AO. Why might this be a good thing for Ovechkin? Here's the theory: the better Emery does down the stretch, the more votes he splinters off from fellow goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who is AO's biggest competition for Rookie of the Year - if voters are thinking of casting their ballot for a netminder, their decision is made all the more difficult the more acclaim Emery gets, although Lundqvist's numbers on the season are much, much better. It may be a stretch, but losing the Rookie of the Month to Emery could actually help AO in the Calder race.
  • New to the blog roll is Mr. Irrelevant's Sports Blog. A highly complimentary link to The Rink while listening to The Flaming Lips will get you on the roll just about every time.
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