Capitals, Lightning Clash Thrice in Two Weeks; Don't Like Each Other Now
Creating a season schedule in pro sports leagues are as much an art as they are an algorithm.
This season in the NHL, for whatever reason, sadism became part of the equation.
How else can the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals and already anointed Prez Trophy winner Tampa Bay Lightning be tossed together three times in two weeks less than one month from the playoffs?
This was kinda like a best-of-three playoff atmosphere where the 'Ning could basically serve notice but the Caps still had a division to clinch:
- Sat 16 Mar ... Tampa Bay won, 6-3, at home;
- Wed 20 Mar ... Tampa Bay won, 5-4, in OT in DC; and by now,
- Sat 30 Mar ... Washington was getting a tad testy.
For the Caps, that usually means Tom Wilson takes center stage somewhere in the proceedings. All he needed was a willing opponent, whereupon Erik Černák picked up the gauntlet and prompty got dropped:
Fortunately, the Slovak version of Dolph Lundgren escaped with only a bitta dental work required:
Cermak held his own going against Wilson but that was no slip pic.twitter.com/Qrip5W1bjR— kenneth howell (@tampaken) March 31, 2019
It's not often that an Alexander Ovechkin landmark takes a back seat to anything, but this one did:
The Crushin' Russian's 50th goal of the season helped the Caps to a 6-3 decision they were so ready to ring up:
This marked the eighth time in his career that Ovie's reached the 50-goal level.
It's far from a sure thing these two clubs will clash in the Eastern Conference finals like they did when they gave everyone their money's worth last spring, and fights are much rarer in the playoffs.
If one arises, though, odds are we've just seen a preview of it.