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The Morning Narrative: Alz About Alzner, Conn Man and Big Ratings

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Three things we’re talking about this morning when we’re talking about the Caps

NHL: Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

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:

Sure enough...

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?

All of which brings us to today, and Isabelle Khurshudyan’s must-read on Alzner and his future, both short- and long-term:

So... if and when Alzner is healthy, does he get his job back?

This comes a few days after Trotz praised Schmidt’s play:

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:

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?