I love playoff hockey.
Yes, yes, I know. It’s not quite yet time for the Cup race to begin – but this last week of the regular season might as well be the start of the playoffs.
It’s been a while since the NHL’s had such a tight race down to the wire, and the local boys have just as much at stake right now as any of the other five teams also fighting for their playoff lives – and the extra money those games bring into team coffers.
Carolina, Ottawa, New York (Rangers), Boston and Philadelphia can all see their playoff races end in success or failure alongside the Washington Capitals in these final days. And it may well come down to the final minutes of the final games this weekend before the playoff picture is settled once and for all.
The Capitals have been spectacular of late. Arguably, since the trade deadline. Since George McPhee pulled some magic out of the hat and snagged Huet, Federov, and Cooke for a fantastic end-season run, including a brilliant 5-1 series of games away from the Verizon Center, the Caps have looked 180 degrees different than the start of the season.
Scoreboard watching is about as interesting at Caps games as it is watching Huet stone opponents with spectacular saves.
I’ve got to hand it to Ovechkin – not only has the “Big O” pretty much nabbed the goal scoring and points titles, he’s led a remarkably mediocore team from the start of the year to a surging and dynamic playoff hopeful.
Now it is true I’m not a huge Caps fan, simply because of my (still strong) allegiance to the team of my youth. But I love great hockey above all else, and with a smorgasboard of games this week – many with playoff hopes on the line – I will be watching with interest the Caps final run of the season. Yes, they have to win all three home games against Carolina, Tampa and Florida PLUS see one of the five still in contention somehow implode in order to make it to Lord Stanley’s dance…. But I have to say, I’m fairly optimistic the Caps will see a return to the playoffs this year.
I’ll be attending Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay and looking forward to the thrill of playoff hockey. Even if just a taste of it.
It’s been too long, Washington. Let’s hope this year is the one that welcomes you back into the frozen elite.
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs