While you watch…
I made the argument yesterday that tomorrow’s Game 7 in New York could be the biggest game in Washington Capitals franchise history.
After careful reconsideration, I really do think it will be. I just can’t think of a game where they’ve had, simultaneously, so much to gain and so much to lose. Sure, they made it to the finals in 1998. But that team didn’t have the same profile or expectations. And it didn’t play a Game 7 during that run. And it wasn’t given much of a chance of beating a loaded Detroit team anyway. As it turned out, the Red Wings swept.
Anyway, regardless of whether it’s the “biggest” or just “one of the biggest,” we can all agree this is a really big game. With a win, the Caps would advance to the Eastern Conference finals, where they’d play either Tampa Bay or Montreal, two teams that are good, obviously, but beatable for sure. Win that series and, let’s face it, the Ducks and Blackhawks aren’t without their flaws either.
With a loss, they’ll have blown a 3-1 series lead for the fifth time in franchise history, after a season where they made it look like things were different this time.
Bottom line: this particular core of Washington players, led by Alex Ovechkin, may never get this opportunity again. There are 30 teams in the NHL. Half of them believe they have legit Stanley Cup aspirations; the rest are building and stockpiling for the future.
Forget winning it all — just getting to the final four is hard.
Just ask the Caps, who’ve only been there twice since entering the league in 1974.
Related: Ovechkin stands by guarantee, doesn’t ‘care what everybody thinks’
Alex Ovechkin doesn’t care if you think it was a bad idea for him to guarantee a win over the New York Rangers.
He doesn’t care if you think it was a good idea, either.
Because unless you’re on his team, he doesn’t care what you think about, well, anything.
“Like I said, we’re going to New York and finish out the series,” Ovechkin said, per CSN Washington.
“I don’t care what everybody thinks, to be honest with you. I care about what we think here in the group and as a team. You guys can think whatever you want.”
He added, “Right now, it’s not about one person. It’s all about the group of guys that are going to be out there. Everybody can make a difference. … It’s good for us because this is the time.”
We think he’s right about this being “the time” for the Caps.
Not that he cares that we think that.
Related: Trotz loved Ovechkin’s Messier-like prediction
Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival has undergone “successful surgery” to repair a fractured left ankle, the club announced today.
Said Dr. Michael Terry in a release: “The procedure went very well and we anticipate him returning to full hockey activities in approximately 12-16 weeks.”
If that timeline holds, Rozsival, 36, will miss the rest of the playoffs. A pending unrestricted free agent, the injury may also hurt his chances of signing with a team for next season.
David Rundblad is likely to replace Rozsival when the Blackhawks open the Western Conference finals versus Anaheim.
Related: More minutes? Timonen will ‘take whatever I get’ after Rozsival injury
If the Vancouver Canucks don’t get Jordan Subban signed by June 1, the 20-year-old defenseman (and brother to P.K. and Malcolm) will re-enter the draft.
That obviously wouldn’t be ideal for the Canucks, especially considering the lack of dynamic defensemen in the organization, not to mention their aging core of blue-liners.
And besides, a team never wants to waste a draft pick.
Subban, a fourth-round pick of the Canucks in 2013, finished his fourth season with OHL Belleville with 25 goals and 27 assists. While his size, or lack thereof, makes him anything but a sure thing to play regularly in the NHL one day, Vancouver GM Jim Benning will still have some questions to answer if a deal doesn’t get done.
PHT reached out to Subban’s agent, Mark Guy, for an update on the negotiations.
“All I can tell you at this stage is that we are continuing talks with the Canucks,” wrote Guy in an email.
Late last month, Benning said that he was “confident at the end of the day we’re going to get a deal done.”
But the question has to be asked — what’s the holdup?
Related: P.K. Subban thinks brother Jordan will be ‘the best of all of us’
From Erik Erlendsson of The Tampa Tribune:
This, of course, is related to Ryan Callahan’s emergency appendectomy that’s expected to keep the veteran winger out of the lineup tonight in Montreal.
While Lightning coach Jon Cooper wasn’t ruling anything out, including Callahan playing, it sounds like Jonathan Marchessault, an undrafted 24-year-old who’s played just two games for the Lightning, will get the call over Jonathan Drouin, the third overall pick in 2013 who appeared in 70 games for the Lightning this season, plus three more in the playoffs.
Drouin last played in Game 4, a 6-2 Tampa Bay defeat.
Marchessault had a team-high 67 points in 68 games for AHL Syracuse during the regular season. He had one goal and one assist and was named the game’s first star in his last NHL appearance, on Apr. 11 versus Boston.
Related: Cooper says Drouin will play at some point in second round