Tag Archives: Capitals

The Grandest Of Finales?

First and foremost, I’d like to take the time to congratulate Fan Interference on celebrating its one year anniversary yesterday. Cheers!

Now, all I want for graduation is a Stanley Cup Final that lives up to the hype of the Conference Finals that come before it. In turn, not to be subjected to a similar fate of years past by having a curtain in the form of an anti-climatic close to what the NHL heralds as “a best versus best” series.

With that in mind it may be hard to duplicate the atmosphere of a  Chicago v Los Angeles or a Washington v Montreal match up with a trip to the Cup Final on the line. Considering how often those previous teams play one another. What may not be difficult to request is, having a Final reach a winner takes all game 7. Its been noticeably absent, in fact you have to go back to 2011 when the Boston Bruins went into Vancouver and came out on the other side 4-0 victors.

We, as fans have been robbed of such a luxury in the years between. In 2012, Steve Bernier plastered Kings defensemen Rob Scuderi into the glass, resulting in a major penalty. Los Angeles then bombarded Marty Brodeur on the ensuing 5 minute major on their way to a 6-1, game 6 victory. In 2013 Chicago tallied two goals in 17 seconds crushing Bostons late 3rd period lead in their last ditch effort to force a game 7 in Chicago. In 2015, Chicago yet again doubled down scoring the only two goals against Tampa Bay in game 6 to hoist their 3rd Cup in 5 years. Lastly, 2016 saw the a narrowly focused, much matured Sidney Crosby land his second ring, in a series where San Jose was never out of it but also never truly in it either.

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For a multitude of reasons 2017 has been a year of interesting narratives, putting it lightly. But in terms of hockey, what it could potentially offer is that game 7 that has eluded fans for quite some time. Washington, who easily up to this point has established themselves as the best team in the league, beefed up by trading for Kevin Shattenkirk. Clearly the mentality is to win, now more than ever.

We’ve been teased with the notion that this is Washington’s year many a time in the past. But, with the additions of players like Justin Williams, TJ Oshie, Lars Eller, Brett Connolly, and the recently mentioned Kevin Shattenkirk. It be difficult to argue that the road to the Cup, does in fact run through Washington. Much forgotten the years of repeated playoff disappointments which come as early as last years defeat at the hands of Sidney Crosby. Washington has reloaded, beefed up, and have a frightening mental infatuation with putting those less than fortunate seasons behind them, forever.

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Chicago, since the 2008-09 season has established themselves as the poster child of consistency in the NHL. Currently running through their opposition as if they were constructed of wet tissue paper, including their eyebrow raising 4-1 victory Wednesday night over Pittsburgh. Patrick Kane is back to his form which saw him win league MVP last season, while Jonathan Toews has recovered from his mid season slump.

Go down the roster, if you fancy, and attempt to pick out a match up in which your favorite team has the clear cut advantage. Even Bill Belichick would quiver in his boots at the thought of a 7 game series against the NHL’s most formidable playoff foe. Home ice advantage for the Hawks means you best win every game on your home turf, something Chicago doesn’t always let their opposition do.

Chicago has the experience, bar none. With the lethal combination of Kane and Toews.

Washington has the firepower and the confidence to go shot for shot with anyone in the league. Not to mention that Ovechkin and Backstrom go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Washington versus Chicago is the series you didn’t realize you needed in your life until right now. For the Caps they have a charismatic captain desperate for the one piece of hardware needed to complete his star studded resume. For the Hawks, one more Cup would put them in the realm of immortality, along with Gretzky’s Oilers, and Bossy’s Islanders of the 80’s.

Separately the journey to this years Cup Final won’t be easy on either side. Washington will surely see Pittsburgh again, while Chicago will have to take care of Minnesota and Los Angeles. But a hockey nut can dream, right?

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If, by chance these two organizations meet for the right to compete for hockey’s ultimate prize, you best not blink. As for those smiles? Surly they won’t last.



The West Is Won

Ever since Chicago reclaimed hockey supremacy back in 2010, the Western Conference has continued to evolve into hockey’s preliminary conference. The same cannot be said for the East. They on the other hand have appeared to take a noticeable step back from its business associate.

To the right of the Mississippi river there is a lot of disparity.

The playoff picture is far from completion; in fact the remaining few games on the season could make or break a teams season. Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit hold the unfortunate title of bubble teams. A crucial match up between Boston and Detroit tonight in Boston is shaping up to be must watch television. With a loss, Boston can plan their golf weekend early. With a win for Detroit, their incredible playoff streak will continue.

With all do respect to both teams, the chance that either of them will make a significant amount of noise in the big dance is minor.

That being said, who can you expect to make it out of the East and successfully match up with hockey’s superiority?

How about that city connected by three rivers?

Since their title in 2009, the Penguins have been massive underachievers. That’s right, Sidney Crosby resembles more of a Mike Modano than a Wayne Gretzky at the moment. In order for Pittsburgh to regain its footing, they need ‘Sid’ to be the superstar he has always been predicted to become. That, and for Fluery to cease letting everything under the sun in the net.

That’s not to say they can’t catch a conveniently well times hot streak, but that road travels through Washington and New York.

Lightning, as the saying goes, can’t strike in the same place twice correct?

Well the circus act that has been the Lightning’s season thus far has continued. Stamkos needs surgery to repair a blood clot in his arm and is expected to miss upwards of three months. Victor Hedman also suffered an upper body injury which could sideline him for the start of the playoffs. Hedman was the undisputed backbone of the Lightning last post season, so life without him will be difficult to say the least.

Don’t fret, they recently recalled Jonathan Drouin from the minors. For those who don’t know Drouin, wanted a trade from Tampa earlier in the season. His insubordination landed him in the minors, which he never reported to. Nice kid.

Regardless, Tampa didn’t have much of a choice: they needed to replace the massive gap Stamkos’ injury left behind. Drouin? He was the next best thing.

Florida, well isn’t this a pleasant surprise? For the first time since 2012 the Panthers are back in the playoffs. This time they have a beautiful nucleolus of young and veteran players who have played a ton of meaningful hockey. Roberto Luongo in the process also makes his return to the playoffs, and they’re going to need him. In order for Florida to advance, they need superb goal tending from a less than likely source. Luongo felt the extreme heat from playing in Vancouver, when he couldn’t withstand it they did away with him.

Life doesn’t offer very many chances to succeed a second time. He, has that.

Your safest bet? Washington.

If history truly is doomed to repeat itself then, well, history isn’t on Washington’s side. The last time they enjoyed this much success was 6 years ago: the same year they lost to the 8th seeded Montreal Canadians in 7 games. If the regular season ended today, the Capitals would be facing off against the 8th seeded Philadelphia Flyers.

Philly has been playing with a ton of purpose as of late, and it has helped propel them past Boston in the playoff race. However, Washington has always found a way to choke in the playoffs in historical fashion.

I’d love to sit here and tell you this is Washington’s year to take a cup home, but I can’t. But I can tell you that they’re the favorite to come out of the east.

While I’m not entirely convinced Washington can pull it off, I’m convinced they can end an annoying stigma. That being the West is far superior to the East, that gap is far more narrow than most would like to admit.