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Friday Roundup/Gamenight 'Canes @ Caps

[AP Preview - Preview - Official Game Day Thread]

The Caps and 'Canes finally wrap up the season series tonight with their fifth game in two weeks and third straight Southeast Division battle. The Caps are 3-2-2 against the 'Canes on the campaign while the 'Canes are 4-3-0 against the Caps. In other words, the 'Canes have won four of the seven matches but the Caps have taken away the same number of standings points (eight) as Carolina from those tilts. That makes a ton of sense, NHL. Nothing here needs tweaking. These aren't the droids we're looking for. You can go about your business. Move along.

After that brief detour into geekdom, we return to another form of sci-fi/fantasy: the Alexander Semin saga. In today's "I'll believe it when I see it" installment, the WaPo claims that:
The Washington Capitals are expecting highly touted prospect Alexander Semin to rejoin the team next season as negotiations to end his nearly two-year hiatus from the NHL enter their final stages. A deal is expected to be announced next week, according to a source.
If this does, indeed happen, it is, of course, great news as Semin is widely considered one of the very best hockey players not currently playing in the NHL and adding him to next year's team will be like adding another top-five pick in this year's draft to the one the Caps will almost certainly already have. But remember - this is Alex Semin. If Semin proves to be half as elusive on the ice as off it, Caps fans will be in for a treat for years to come. Oh, and he'll need a nickname too (especially with a name like that), so put your thinking caps on. Too bad "Alexander the Pretty Damn Good" doesn't roll of the tongue.

As for Alexander the Gr8, there are a couple of new AO love pieces floating around the internets, notably here and here. The former of the two includes a great quote from Caps' majority owner Ted Leonsis:
He's kind of out of central casting. If you're going to write: "We're going to rebuild our team post the lockout," then out of the computer would come a description of Alexander Ovechkin. And the key thing is we're not going to let him down and not build the team around him. We have a personality again, we're a tough team to play against. We have a great player, and we're going to keep adding to that.
The second of the two articles (from the always-astute Barry Melrose) makes a similar point to one we made here recently:
Ovechkin is closing in on the 50-goal, 100-point plateau (as of Thursday, he was two goals and two points away), and what impresses me is that he's doing it without a supporting cast. At least Sidney Crosby had talent around him in Pittsburgh (Mario Lemieux at the beginning, Zigmund Palffy, Sergei Gonchar and John LeClair). Who has Ovechkin had? Dainius Zubrus!
I'm not crazy about the dig on Zubie, but the point is obviously more than valid.

Finally, a number of Caps visited the Pentagon yesterday. I guess head coach Glen Hanlon will try anything to strengthen the team's defense.

Thread of the Day: This Time Next Year - What is Possible?

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Sean Burke (29 saves on 31 shots against in shootout win over Atlanta that likely locked up a playoff spot for Tampa and eliminated Atlanta in this crucial Eastern Conference game)
  • Ross: Jonathan Cheechoo, Yanic Perreault, Alexei Kovalev, Stu Barnes (3 points each)
  • Norris: Kimmo Timonen (Game-winning goal, assist)
  • Vezina: Manny Fernandez (32 saves on 33 shots in shootout win)
  • Richard: Jonathan Cheechoo, Niko Kapanen, Martin Straka (2 goals each)
  • Calder: Christopher Higgins (Game-winning goal, assist, +1 at Ottawa for the recent Rink Calder regular)
  • Aiken: Los Angeles Kings (Four points out of a playoff spot, they muster all of 14 shots on goal for the game and just three in a third period they entered down only 2-0 en route to a 5-0 loss at home against San Jose)