Little darling, it's been a long, cold, lonely winter. Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here. Here comes the hockey - here comes the hockey - and I say it's alright. With apologies to the late great George Harrison for that bastardization, I must admit that the past two weeks without NHL hockey have been rough on my evenings. I actually watched figure skating in a vain attempt to fill the void, hoping against hope that someone would skate out of nowhere, catch Johnny Weir with his head down and send him into the middle of March. Alas, tonight my thirst will be slaked, as the Caps and Leafs are one of six games on the NHL calendar.
As the Caps are in Toronto to begin their 26-game march to lottery positioning, players will be fighting for 2006-07 jobs which should mean plenty of hungry hockey players - good efforts with the occassional good result. And as the Hershey Bears head towards the AHL playoffs, it will be interesting to see how many of the team's prospects are allowed to compete (and win) in Hershey versus getting evaluated at the NHL level. For now, the big league team is rife with players who have spent significant portions of this season in Hershey, including yesterday's call-ups Jakub Klepis and Mike Green. As Coach Hanlon put it, "Everyone is playing for their livelihoods."
Today's WaPo expands on the idea that the rest of the season is a casting call, while the WTimes scoops the WaPo by announcing that Alexander Ovechkin is expected to play (and if it's in the WTimes, it must be true). Today's Toronto Star agrees, declaring AO "ready to roll" and the Toronto Sun has a wonderful piece entitled (though mis-punctuated) "Ovechkin for MVP?"
Thread of the Day: Poll: What Is The Most Exciting Play In Hockey?
Elsewhere 'round the rinks:
- Former Ranger, North Star (briefly), Shark (even more briefly) and Miracle-on-Icer Mark Pavelich was born in Eveleth, MN on this day in 1958. In Pav's first three NHL seasons he averaged better than 30 goals and 75 points per campaign - not bad for an undersized kid who seemingly made a career out of beating the odds.
- Speaking of Olympic champions, on this day in 1960 the U.S. Men's Ice Hockey team won gold at Squaw Valley, defeating the Czechs 9-4.
- Finally today, the "Is Sports Illustrated Ripping Off The Rink, Or Coincidences In Sports Pseudo-Journalism" story that I mentioned yesterday apparently has some legs, as it was first commented on by Buffalo's Best Blog, then picked up by Deadspin and finally (perhaps) noted in a thread at Boston Sports Media Watch (post #447 et. seq.). The resulting attention has caused my traffic to skyrocket, so welcome to any first time readers and to long-time readers like Tom Layberger as well.
Update (11:13 a.m.): Now the story's made the front page of Boston Sports Media Watch (towards the bottom of today's entry).