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Morning Reading List: Welcome to the Circus


(Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)


In what may be the least shocking news that can come during the playoffs, Alex Ovechkin was named one of three finalists -- along with Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk -- for the Hart Trophy.

Michael Wilbon talks about the circus coming to town this Saturday and what it will mean to have possibly the most pomp and circumstance of this postseason occur now with the latest installment of the Capitals vs Penguins rivalry.

Go behind Mike Wise's latest column on the insanity that was Game 7 in the video below. Also, if you missed the column itself, check it out here.

NBC announced that the Caps/Penguins Game 1 will not be preempted by the Kentucky Derby. (Some of you may remember when the network cut away from overtime between Buffalo and Ottawa for pre-race coverage of the Preakness.)

Time for the rest of the D.C. Sports Bog specials:

  • Once upon a time, in a galaxy not so far away, assistant coach Dean Evason played against Sergei Fedorov.

  • Speaking of television coverage, check out the ratings for the Caps/Rangers series. And Smokin Al Koken's prediction.

  • You'll also find some extra quotes from the Game 7 scene.

Puck Daddy's Dmitry Chesnokov spoke to Fedorov and Simeon Varlamov about the emotions from Game 7 and facing the Penguins.

The Hockey News lists its round one MVPs for each team in the playoffs and also gives you the top-10 first-round vindications.

"Welcome to the Circus"
Not only the Capitals and Penguins gearing up for this second round match up but so is the rest of the hockey world, the sports-watching world and probably some innocent bystanders, who have been swept up in the growing wave of anticipation, too.

This is the NHL's dream series, or so many think. The one the league has waited for since the lockout to capture the imagination of both die hard hockey fans and casual sports fans everywhere. (The Globe and Mail)

The Toronto Sun examines some of the bigger storylines of the series to come.

ESPN's Scott Burnside breaks down the series -- a word of warning though, the regulars on this blog likely won't agree with his prediction.

The Hockey News previews all of the second round match ups, although you might not fancy their prediction either.

Maggie the monkey, on the other hand, had a pick you might like over in the TSN studios.

By Katie Carrera  |  April 30, 2009; 5:30 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: More on Ovechkin's Hart Trophy Nomination
Next: Talking Points: Ovie vs. Crosby

Comments

Great so a furry crab eating monkey who was 2-6 in the first round picks us.

Who cares! This will be a series dreams are made of. LGC!

Posted by: trunkenmath | April 30, 2009 5:55 AM | Report abuse

Well, you know it's big if Wilbon's writing about hockey!

Posted by: JS26121820 | April 30, 2009 6:40 AM | Report abuse

There were questions regarding the Hart last night and when the voting takes place. The voting is done, over, complete. All of the 2008-09 regular season award voting is complete. The top 3 vote getters are announced as nominees. That allows for very good discussions to take place in hockey circles as well as give 2 others recognition for some time before the actual award presentation. The purposely have the voting take place before the playoffs because they are regular season awards and playoff performance is not supposed to affect the outcome of the voting.

I like this format because it recognizes the performance of players. For example, we all know Lundqvist is an outstanding goaltender, however he has never won the Vezina. He has been a 2 time nominee though which tells those of us that aren't Rangers fans that he's a good goaltender when he's playing us in the playoffs, not just completely lucky.

Think about it, even if Ovi does not get named the Hart Trophy recipient it will be nice knowing that he was considered in the running by folks outside of our Washington Capitals family.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 30, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Once again the Caps get the Shaft. Everyone Shoeing in Pitt to win the series. All except for Melrose. Whatever, I'll be happy as long as someone punches Crosby in the face every game

Posted by: CapsFan44 | April 30, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I did not think basketball season was over. What is Wilbon doing writing about hockey. Must have taken little pieces from other stories for that article.

I didn't realize that there were so many stars in this Pens-Caps series. Really?

Coverage is nice to have, but don't let those who could care less about it (i.e. don't even mention it or want to discuss it in his own chats) write about it. I think they look a bit foolish.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | April 30, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

@CapsFan44 "Once again the Caps get the Shaft. Everyone Shoeing in Pitt to win the series..."

No worries. Just makes the victory sweeter.

Posted by: Caps16Fan | April 30, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Minor off topic:

Is it me (and if it is.. oops!) but is the note on Ticketmaster for the pre-sale event that says the tickets are being "geo-Limited" new? Or did they do this for the Rangers series too and I just missed it? It would be great to NOT see any yellow this time around. I was a the last home regular season game vs the Pens and there was WAY too much yellow.

Posted by: jdhoover | April 30, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Two things I don't get:

1. The media speaks of Pitt's apparently overwhelming "firepower". So they have Malkin, Crosby, and a resurgent Gonch. We have OV, Semin, and Greener. Oh, and Nicky.

2. They also talk about the "matchup" between Crysby and OV. What is this matchup they speak of? I didn't think OV's line even plays against Cindy's much.

The real key to this series, as I've said before, is Varly and Defense/great offense. They know that Varly *will* cough up some rebounds, they know he hasn't been tested much, and they know he's young and potentially fragile. So excited to see how he responds!

Posted by: snakegriffin | April 30, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Just for the record, Barry Melrose was almost 100% in his predictions for the first round, including Anaheim over San Jose and Chicago over Calgary in the west. If Barry is picking the Caps, that's better than some goofy monkey.

Predictions do not matter and are better left for people who need a life. On paper and during the regular season, the Caps were/are clearly the better, more skilled team, compared to the Penguins -- better goaltending (now), more depth on offense, and frankly, even a little better on D, if you count the team's respective playoff performances. And if anyone thinks Dan Bylsma is a better coach than BB, well, stop smoking those things from Mexico.

Posted by: bucknelldad | April 30, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Varly hasn't been tested? Come on folks, if he would have been playing Theo-like at the start of game 7, Antropov's goal would have made it a 3-0 lead. Goal 1 would have been Avery's shot in the first minute, and goal 2 would have been Antropov's breakaway.

Don't sell this kid short. He made nice saves throughout the series. Remember, good positional goalies make a majority of their saves look routine.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 30, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm not saying he hasn't made great saves, I'm just saying he hasn't faced a great offensive team who's going to force him to make a lot of great saves. A lot of the Pens goals in the first round (at least that I saw) came off rebounds, so our D and backcheckers really need to be active to negate that. I'd love to see OV backcheck a little more aggressively in this series as well.

Posted by: snakegriffin | April 30, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

One other thing to remember folks is that Philly had been reeling at the end of the season. They couldn't even manage to pull 1 point out of their last two games of the season to secure home ice against the Pens. Who did they play? The Rangers. When the Caps turned the series around they did it against a very confident Rangers team that was on a roll. They had won their last 3 games of the season, and were up 3-1, that makes the run 6 wins in 7 games. Then the boys raised the bar.

This will be a good series. Both teams are young and so I expect to see some mistakes. However, this is probably the beginning of many match-ups between these two teams, more than likely they will be meeting in the Conference Finals rather than the 2nd round in years to come.

Hey, a run to the Stanley Cup will be even sweeter if the Pens are one of the teams rung up. It'll be nerve racking and frustrating at times but a blast.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 30, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

My point in my last entry is that the Pens didn't play a team that was hot. NJ probably got the toughest draw in the East, and Boston got a gift.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 30, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

My thoughts on predictions? Well, if people are paying attention to what a monkey predicts, you know how stupid they really are.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | April 30, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Varly did play great against NYR, but it is a very valid point to say he wasn't tested in the way he will be in this series. Who do the Rangers have that's a really good finisher? There were tons of plays they had in that series that were nicely set up, but Varly never had to face a shot because they don't have a decent sniper. The Penguins do not have this limitation. Defensive discipline will be ever so much more important, and while Varly was tested by the Rangers in terms of having to stop quality shots, he was not tested in terms of volume of shots. I still will take him over Fleury though.

Re: Wilbon, did anyone watch the talking points with Kornheiser? That was the most laughable hockey analysis. I like Michael, I really do, but for the sake of all involved please go back to the NBA and Tony please go back to doing whatever it is you do in between PTI and MNF. Thank you.

Posted by: JS26121820 | April 30, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad everyone is picking the Pens. It'll make the Caps work harder instead of coming out like they did in Games 1 and 2 when they were already being hailed as shoo-ins for the Conference finals.

Posted by: CapsChick | April 30, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

The monkey picked us!!!

Posted by: nhcaps | April 30, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Wilbon? He must have found some of Tarik's notes after Tarik used his desk for some video footage.

Posted by: beeman | April 30, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

who on here made 50 predictions that would happen over the course of the season?

update please

Posted by: _stevo | April 30, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I thought the monkey picked the Rags?

I read the Wilbon piece. He needs to stick to his sports: basketball, baseball and football. A regurgitation of news and quotes from last week and in the past week that has already been widely reported isn't anything new. His article is a waste of newsprint and electrons.

Posted by: Greg S. | April 30, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Excellent, everyone is picking Pittsburgh to win, so we're the underdogs again. You know what happens when people start counting this Caps team out...

Posted by: AMHV2772 | April 30, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Some of these Pens fans think they are going to take over VC Center.

They dont seem to understand...

- We have bought most of these playoff tickets AND season tickets for next year
- Scalping will run them $100+ at least and they probably wont be able to pay at...
- Hopefully Caps fans that need to sell are smart enough to make sure it stays within the friends and family group..i.e other Caps fans.

Our only issue:
- The jokes with season tickets that are Caps fans UNLESS the Pens are in town...You have no place in this series...sorry...it's a sore spot...

Posted by: SA-Town | April 30, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Anyone notice that 2 of the remaining 4 teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs are from the Southeast division?

Posted by: underpar1 | April 30, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I agree with SA-Town, you cannot be a Caps fan and a Pens fan. Pick one or the other, and if it's Pitt stay home and watch on TV.

What's the over/under on how many "You can't spell Crosby without Cry" shirts will be at game 1?

Posted by: ds_kelly | April 30, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Nice job by Scott Burnside to not mention Nick Backstrom!

Posted by: Zornado | April 30, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Still relishing in the series win!

My favorite quote (found in Steinberg's bog):

John Tortorella, on the third: "It was still a game to be had. Who makes the next big play? They did. We didn't. They win the game."

I guess its true, but when your team only has one shot on net in the third period of a game 7, well, that had better be a very good shot, or a very lucky shot (ala Semin's shot in the first, where we only had 2 shots on net).

Anyway, I would be more concerned that his team only had 1 shot in the third period of a game 7 more so than his team not having made the big play. (though, their first two periods were their best in this series)

Whatever, just brings a smile to my face :)

GO CAPS!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | April 30, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

That was JSchon that did the 50 predictions. He updated several times earlier in the season. Many came to pass pretty quickly. I haven't seen any of his posts in a while.

Posted by: tominfl1 | April 30, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Scalping will run them $100+ at least and they probably wont be able to pay at...

Posted by: SA-Town | April 30, 2009 9:36 AM


Why do you think that?

Posted by: akus2 | April 30, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Wilbon, what a bandwagoner. He's consistently ignored the Caps throughout his years at the Post. I'm not about to listen to him now. And don't get me started about Tony K. Sure, he wrote a lot about the Caps - only to constantly diss 'em. They can both get lost. The Caps and Caps fans don't need them.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | April 30, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The more commentators who pick the Pens the better.

Semyon looked so cool in Game 7, it injected a ton of confidence all around. Nonetheless, I'm with those who believe he has not been tested to the extent that the Pens will test him. I think he'll pass.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 30, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I think not having Brash for the first five games is going to hurt us, we play with more agression with him in the line up, this leaves us with just one heavywieght Erskin but we need him to keep up the great D he has been playing, I think with Carlson moving up the the bears that we should recall mcneill or arsene even thow both are D-men I would like to have one of them on the fourth line wing to do the heavy lifting that will come up in this series, without a player like this in the line up the pens will take advantage of us

Posted by: t-bone67 | April 30, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The monkey picked us!!!

Posted by: nhcaps | April 30, 2009 9:23


Well, we need to get the monkey off our shoulders and win our series against these Pens!

GO CAPS!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | April 30, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to disagree with THN on OV as our "MVP" of the series. He was great, no doubt, and a solid leader. But without Varly, I don't think any of us think we would still be playing (or watching).

But the h/t to Poti for thriving on the MSG negative vibe was great. I think it was the NBC where he skated off after an interview and cupped his ears to hear the boos. Of course, most Rags fans had left in disgust by then.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | April 30, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Well, Pens have more experience where it's needed most -- in goal and on defense, and play a safer, more mature game. The Caps may have some advantage in pure talent, but even if they do, it's not yet clear that it's translatable to the playoffs. So you can see why neutral observers seem to favor the Pens.
*Shrug*. Who cares?!

As a Caps fan, I'm very optimistic. The weight of the world is off the Caps' shoulders, they know they can deal with adversity, and with Pens as their opponent they will have no trouble keeping focus. So everything is in place for them to play their best hockey -- if so, I think the Pens will be skating uphill most of the time.

Posted by: VladG | April 30, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that some folks are looking at goaltending as one of the "strengths" over the Pens. You are looking at a rookie goalie with exactly 7 playoff games under his belt against a goalie that has taken his team to within 2 game of winning the cup. Maybe the monkey is right!

Posted by: BiggJohn | April 30, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Sorry.....SIX playoff games!

Posted by: BiggJohn | April 30, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

@BiggJohn: I guess you're not counting his time in the Russian leagues and their equivalent of the Stanley Cup Finals? If we did, then he can't really be considered a "rookie". Regardless of how he's been tested or not, he's shown that he could withstand the pressures of the game. The Penguins can bring on their shots. Varlamov will rise to the occasion.

Gooo Caps!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | April 30, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

@akus2

Not disrespect there...Not alot of people can afford $100+ tickets right now...

Most of the Caps fans you see in the upper deck pay WAY less then $100 a ticket. They buy in bulk.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 30, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

@LeftCost

No...I don't count those games. The NHL is a MUCH different game. Many people dominate in Europe and that play doesn't translate. Should we count PeeWee playoffs? Junior? he IS a rookie and has limited experience. he did play well against the Rangers and did what he had to do. The Pens will be a much different test and my point is that it is amusing to think that somehow he has an edge over someone who has been there and had success.

Posted by: BiggJohn | April 30, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

According to ESPN.com:
http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/playoffs/2009/news?columnist=burnside_scott&id=4111485

We will lose in 7.

Basically, it appears the Pens are tougher than us.
I guess little Matty Cooke is the difference maker.

& Brash will be there in game 7 to stop him.

Posted by: Rocc00 | April 30, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I love that the fanbase is longing for Donald Brashear. A guy that didn't dress for 3 out of 4 games and averages around 3 minutes of ice time is the player that people are looking to to be a difference maker. Too funny!

Posted by: BiggJohn | April 30, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

@akus2
Not disrespect there...Not alot of people can afford $100+ tickets right now...
Most of the Caps fans you see in the upper deck pay WAY less then $100 a ticket. They buy in bulk.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 30, 2009 10:47

But you did not say not alot of people You said

Some of these Pens fans think they are going to take over VC Center.

They dont seem to understand...

- We have bought most of these playoff tickets AND season tickets for next year
- Scalping will run them $100+ at least and they probably wont be able to pay at...

so the them that your talk about is "these Pens fans"

Posted by: akus2 | April 30, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

It seems most of the predictions are going with the Pens and the difference maker being their defense. When I look back at the numbers over the last part of the season, Pitts definitely had the edge defensively. But some things have changed since then. We got Pothier back and we have Varly in net.

My heart is with the Caps and my mind says Game 7 OT. Its anyone's series, no favorite.

Posted by: bigschu8 | April 30, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

@akus

Caps fans dont have to pay what Pens fans do..so simple economics would say there wont be as many of you.

But if you think that Pens fans are rich as hell, will come down to DC and spend 5 times what Caps fans pay, on a limited number of scalped tickets anyway..then you certainly deserve to take over the arena...bring it...Im betting it will be RED....

Posted by: SA-Town | April 30, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

@SA-Town

Way to go out on a limb there partner. Imagine the Caps arena being red. Simple LOCATION and AVAILABILITY dictates that there won't be as many Pens fans...not economics. Hard to believe that us dirty, coal mining, steel working folks can figure out something that somplicated huh?

Posted by: BiggJohn | April 30, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse


I love that the fanbase is longing for Donald Brashear. A guy that didn't dress for 3 out of 4 games and averages around 3 minutes of ice time is the player that people are looking to to be a difference maker. Too funny!

Posted by: BiggJohn | April 30, 2009 11:11 AM

Welcome to the big time - Learn satire - else get a upper laureate degree & pack a lunch, you are going to need it after a comment like that.

Posted by: Rocc00 | April 30, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

SA-Town.
The only issue i addressed is the one that you said.

That Pen fans could not afford a $100 ticket from a scalper, and i could not understand why you said that.
Are you saying the people who root for the Pens have no money, or the Pens fans are not that passionate that they would never pay that amount or people who live in that area are poor?

$100 bucks from a scalper? LOL...ok.

I just looked online and seen 2 tickets in section 427 for $198.

Ahh maybe i should wait and buy them from a scalper and save 2 cents.

Posted by: akus2 | April 30, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

BiggJohn,

I have seen the verizon Center 1/2 full with Pens fans..

My point is those days are over...

@akus
I know that some Pens fans will make their way in, but to my point above...your not going to see 30% like years past...And yes...I dont see 5-7k Pens fans coming down paying $100+ for a ticket to sit up top...there wont be that many available at that price anyway...

Im not calling Pens fans poor...if I wanted to do that I would probably have to look at foreclosure rates and unemployment in Western PA, and I really dont care to go there.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 30, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the big time - Learn satire - else get a upper laureate degree & pack a lunch, you are going to need it after a comment like that.

I am speechless. That comment should have been written in crayon. Although it IS lunchtime so maybe I should have packed something. Thanks for the advice.


Posted by: BiggJohn | April 30, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

unreal.

Posted by: akus2 | April 30, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

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