1. Karl Alzner had a rough season and a rough start to this year’s playoffs. So, while you never like to see a guy have to miss games due to injury, it could have reasonably been expected to help the team:
Feel for Alzner, but I don't hate this result at all... https://t.co/xeu5oApUke— Japers' Rink (@JapersRink) April 17, 2017
Sorry, that data was before last night. Schmidt took a gigantic 2% drop in Game Six. Also one more goal-for, the overtime game-winner. pic.twitter.com/9Xoq2DLcae— Good Tweet Pete (@peterhassett) April 24, 2017
There’s context missing there (including, most notably, easier assignments), but as we wrote at the beginning of the month while bemoaning Barry Trotz’s use of Alzner in a “shutdown” role, context may help to explain bad results, but the bottom line here is the bad results, not the context - if Alzner’s getting buried against top competition, maybe he shouldn’t be facing top competition.
Anyway, enter Nate Schmidt, and exit John Carlson and Schmidt facing Auston Matthews. The result?
Once Barry got Carlson away from Matthews <strike> and Alzner </strike>, he had a very good series, overall. https://t.co/79NwBznQ4B— Japers' Rink (@JapersRink) April 24, 2017
All of which brings us to today, and Isabelle Khurshudyan’s must-read on Alzner and his future, both short- and long-term:
On this maybe being Karl Alzner's last run w/ Caps, the groin injury that's nagged him all year and what happens now https://t.co/y1AHVxfA2E— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 25, 2017
So... if and when Alzner is healthy, does he get his job back?
Trotz's answer to that question was "possibly." Didn't want to get into it since he's not there yet.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 25, 2017
This comes a few days after Trotz praised Schmidt’s play:
Trotz on Schmidt: "Right now, he's making a statement going, 'You're not getting my spot back.'"— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 20, 2017
Reading the tea leaves, it’s hard to imagine Alzner swapping back in for a healthy Schmidt for Game 1, regardless of the former’s health. But could they both be in the lineup, with a forward (say, Brett Connolly) sitting to make room for a seventh defenseman? It’s possible.
The more interesting question at this point, however, is how long is Nate Schmidt’s leash? He’s played well in the past, only to lose ice time seemingly inexplicably to veteran blueliners, so could he be a healthy Alzner and a costly gaffe or two away from being bounced back up to the press box? Unfortunately, that may be the most likely scenario.
2. Braden Holtby would probably be the first to tell you that while winning the Vezina Trophy as the League’s best goalie last season was nice, he’d gladly trade it for a different individual award: the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded annually to the playoff’s most valuable player. Heading into the second round, at least one odds-maker has him on track to do just that (without the whole “trade” part - that Vezina is forever).
Bookmaker Bovada has Holtby at 11/1 to win the Conn Smythe, the best odds on the board, followed by Sidney Crosby (14/1) and Connor McDavid (15/1). Here’s the whole list, including a handful of Caps teammates (guess it’s pretty clear who Bovada has as its Cup fave, eh?):
And, just for fun, here are some other odds and over/unders for the series:
So, where are you putting your fake Internet dollars?
3. The television ratings are in for the Caps’ first-round series, and they’re gooood:
Wow. Caps get 6.24 DC rating for game 6, third highest rating for Caps playoff game on cable ever (after 2 game 7s) https://t.co/Mp7fWSNDnO— Eric Fingerhut (@ericfingerhut) April 25, 2017
And via NBC Sports Group:
The Caps and Leafs did (relatively) big numbers for the whole “featuring a Canadian team” subset of series. But wait... where’s D.C. in this top-10?
Circle back to that first point - Caps games were shown locally on both CSN and NBCSN (and none exclusively on NBC), with the former obviously siphoning off a huge chunk of the latter’s share (and, to a lesser extent, vice versa) in the area.
So for Buffalo, Philly and West Palm Beach, for example, anyone watching the playoffs was watching on NBCSN and NBC (though in Buffalo, there are some folks who watch Canadian channels, and Caps games may have shown on CSN Philadelphia, but that’s neither here nor there). For Minneapolis (twice), St. Louis (twice), Nashville, Providence/Boston (twice), Chicago and Pittsburgh, there were NBC-exclusive games in addition to other games shown on regional sports networks.
Who cares? The NHL and NBC, that’s who... and they’ve gotta be loving their amuse-bouche as they ready to gorge on their entrée-sized appetizer in Round 2. But will they have any room left for the main course or dessert? And when’s lunch, anyway?