Alex Ovechkin would draw huge fan interest should the Caps make it to the post-season. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
The first rule of sports journalism is check your bias at the door. There are no pom-poms in the press box.
That said…go Caps!
With apologies to Olli Jokinen and the people in New England not already consumed with the Red Sox, any first round series with Alex Ovechkin would automatically generate 10 times the excitement of a tilt involving either Boston or Florida.
I admit there’s some intrigue involved with the Panthers and Bruins. Would Jokinen, having heard so much about how the playoffs are a different game, but never having experienced it first-hand, show up to his first post-season match with a tennis racquet and flippers?
Would Bruins coach Claude Julien use the old sports adage “defense wins championships” as the final leverage to employ the dreaded 0-5 forechecking method he has been sitting on the whole regular season?
As interesting as those prospects are, I get far more excited thinking about watching Ovechkin shift up to playoff gear and crashing another team’s defense like waves pounding a beach.
And I get a little dizzy just contemplating the possibility of a “Sid versus Ovie” marquee in Round 1.
I’m a big believer in, if you’re going to be bad, be all-the-way bad. Late-season death rattles that bump a team up to ninth place, are, well, death. No playoffs, no really high pick.
See Leafs, Toronto.
But the exception to the rule comes in the form of Edmonton’s unlikely push toward a post-season berth.
First of all, after last year’s miserable collapse down the stretch following the Ryan Smyth deal, Oilers fans deserve some excitement.
Secondly, the more meaningful games young guys such as Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano play and succeed in can only mean good things for their development – and the team’s.
Then there’s the fact the Oilers sacrificed their first round pick by signing Dustin Penner to an offer sheet last summer. That selection, of course, now belongs to Penner’s old team, the Anaheim Ducks.
As GM of the Oilers, Kevin Lowe’s biggest concern is hoping his squad squeaks into the West’s top eight. But failing that, I’m sure he’d like to delay Anaheim GM Brian Burke’s stroll to the draft podium as long as possible.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every second Friday.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.