The Washington Capitals won Game 6 in Philadelphia to force a seventh game. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
With Game 7 of the Philadelphia-Washington series set for Tuesday night, the NHL still has ample time to do something about this.
Hey, if the league can change its rules in the middle of the playoffs, certainly the fellows who run the NHL have the power to mandate that the Flyers and the Capitals must play a best-of-nine…or 11…or 25.
Sadly, this series will come to an end Tuesday night in Washington and if the league really wants to increase its mass appeal, it will do something, anything, to prevent that from happening. Simply put, this series has been one of the most compelling in years in the NHL and is putting on display everything the league would like the casual sports fan to see.
First, it features some of the most impressive young talent in the sport, and not just on the Washington side that features an embarrassment of young riches in Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green. Mike Richards is giving every indication he’ll be a future star in this league and is proving to the Flyers they would be well advised to lock him up for a ridiculous number of years at big money. (Oops, already did that.) Jeff Carter finished second to Ovechkin in shots Monday night with seven and Braydon Coburn is rounding into one of the league’s top young defensemen.
Second, it features some of the most mind-boggling displays of skill, as evidenced by the ridiculous passing play on the Capitals’ first goal and the tour de force display by Ovechkin in a game in which he finally broke out offensively.
On top of that, it has been fiercely physical, consistently intense and pockmarked by periods of brilliance by goaltenders Cristobal Huet and Martin Biron.
So now, after going down 3-1 in the series, the Capitals head back home for Game 7 with a rejuvenated and wildly confident Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom. Should the Capitals advance, those three might not have enough energy left to get them through another round, but coach Bruce Boudreau is well aware he’d be bordering on unstable if he decided to hold back his top horses. So, Ovechkin takes a two-minute shift. If he’s going to respond with effort the way he did Monday night, Boudreau might as well throw him out there and tell him he doesn’t want to see him back until the intermission.
All the momentum is swinging Washington’s way going into Game 7, but the Flyers have proved to everyone in the hockey world they’re not about to go quietly into the night. Whatever the result of this series, both teams have a good reason to feel pretty darned optimistic about their futures.
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