Wed May 06 06:51pm EDT
Here are your Evening Puck Headlines and Previews: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• Three bits of video before the epic Game 3 between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins this evening. First, as you can see above, is Alexander Ovechkin(notes) getting caught on camera singing along to the "You Suck" portion of the Caps fans' "Rock and Roll Part 2" post-goal celebration. Cue "if this was Crosby it'd be on the cover of TIME Magazine" harangue. [YouTube]
• If that first clip has some of our Pittsburgh readers a little cheesed off, here's catharsis: a video that allegedly shows a Capitals fan getting a one-punch knockdown from a Pittsburgh fan. Definitely Capitals jerseys. Looks like D.C. Otherwise, we're at the mercy of the YouTuber that posted it for details, and they claim arrests were made. [Busted Coverage]
• Finally, stop by Dan Steinberg's D.C. Sports Bog for footage of Charles Barkley putting Ovechkin over as a better athlete than LeBron James on TNT. In the span of a year, the NHL has gone from getting dissed by Tiger Woods to getting pimped by Sir Charles. Not too shabby. [The Bog]
Preview: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. EST; TV: VS., CBC). Capitals lead the series, 2-0.
Keys for the Capitals: The Capitals did two things very well in Game 2 that they didn't do all that well in Game 1: win face-offs and not allow the Penguins to rush out of their own zone. Whether it was the forecheck or a shift in defensive alignment, the odd-man rushes of Game 1 went the way of Crystal Pepsi in Game 2. Assuming Simeon Varlamov(notes) gives them what he's given them, the only defensive improvement would be to clear out the crease after Crosby's three doorstep goals. And whatever the hell they're doing with Evgeni Malkin(notes), keep doing it.
Keys for the Penguins: Getting the last change could certainly be a boon to Malkin's line; then again, Malkin's line could be Crosby's line, at least at different junctures of the game. There are times against Varlamov when it seems like the Penguins are too occupied with getting the perfect chance; if nothing else, Crosby's goals showed that hard work will earn results. The Penguins have been the better team at even strength, and the power play looked better in Game 2. There are signs of encouragement, even if public moaning about interference and Ovechkin's big curved stick indicate the level of desperation at hand tonight.
Keys for the Bruins: Is the power play in a funk or about to emerge from it? Boston hasn't posted a power-play tally in the series, prompting discussions of personnel shake-ups, but it was aces in the third period of Game 2 ... even if nothing found its way past Cam Ward(notes). Carolina, meanwhile, hasn't given up a power-play goal at home in three playoff games. As usual with the Hurricanes, they can be disrupted with a vigorous forecheck against a defense that still has its weak moments.
Keys for the Hurricanes: The Eric Staal(notes) line isn't going to have the upper hand on Zdeno Chara(notes) every night, so secondary scoring looms large. Carolina got the shorty from Matt Cullen(notes) in Game 2, and that was a huge difference-maker. They need Chad LaRose(notes) and Cullen to produce; they need strong shifts from Rod Brind'Amour's(notes) trio. Defensively, the Hurricanes were very strong in their own zone for 40 minutes and then needed Cam Ward to bail them out in the third period. They've outshot Boston 23-16 in the first and then have been outshot 44-29 in the other two periods this series. Play a full 60.
Meanwhile, in the rest of creation ...
• NHL ratings success stories are found throughout the first round, including the highest numbers for the New York Rangers in 12 years and the Boston Bruins' highest ratings ever on NESN. But in Washington, a ratings ... decline? [Sports Media Watch]
• The Hart Trophy finalists are also your Pearson Trophy finalists. [NHL]
• Bettman remains committed to the Coyotes. [Coyotes]
• The Falconer does a nice service, breaking down the ills of the Phoenix franchise in an easily accessibly review. [Bird Watchers Anonymous]
• Interesting piece about how Los Angeles Kings ownership supported Gov. Schwarzenegger in cramming "the largest one-year state tax increase in U.S. history" into the California budget. [Sports By Brooks]
• Team USA upsets Finland at worlds, setting up a semifinal showdown with the Russians on Friday. [Inside the Kings]
• Will the Dallas Stars land Swedish goalie Jonas Gustavsson, and will he make more of an impact than Fab ... Faberge ... Rob and Fab ... that other dude who made such a splash last offseason? [Dallas Stars]
• Finally, a big BOOOOO-URNS to the NHL for attempting to manufacture a controversy by pimping this clip as "Crosby Reacts To Ovechkin Stick-Gate." Stick-Gate? For reals?