Fresh off of cooling down those red-hot Hurricanes, the Capitals are now threatened with the red-hot Jeff Halpern, he of the 15 points in 13 games. Or is that the Treasonous Jeff Halpern? Maybe. We did appreciate Halpern’s time in Washington, particularly his enthusiastic dislike for all things Pittsburgh; everyone can get behind that. We appreciate almost as much the irony in his bolting of the young, struggling, re-building 2005 Caps (not to mention his captaincy, after that lovely season-closing speech on Fan Appreciation Day) for the lush, contender-laiden fields of Dallas, only to end up in imminently struggling, re-building Tampa. From his perch as a center in the Lightning lineup, he will have a fine view of his now-division-rival Caps as they ascend to the realm of Contender he so eagerly sought (perhaps as eagerly as that $2 million/year salary he got from the Stars). Oh the irony. Jeff Hamlet.
Expect a couple of things from tonight’s game. First, expect to see Alex O. further extend his lead in the NHL scoring race against a dilapidated Tampa lineup. Evgeni “not MVP” Malkin has helped already with a pair of consecutive pointless games (hmm, sounds like a certain teammate’s last two playoff games), and Ovie can do a big part in putting that race to rest tonight. Second, expect the Caps to be tied for that eighth spot in the Conference by about 10:30 PM. Boston may have fought off Toronto on the road earlier this week, but they’ve lost 8-2 at home against the Leafs before and they can do it again. So in tomorrow’s “If the playoffs started today…” columns, we’ll see Montreal vs. Washington as the first matchup. And disregard Boston’s precious game in hand. Such things mean nothing to a fraudulent, slumping team.
As if that weren’t enough to look forward to, we can also eagerly anticipate a flood of glowing stories tomorrow morning dramatically chronicling the return of everyone’s favorite anointed golden boy prince. He feels “strong”, and “a lot better”. Wow. If that doesn’t spell “sizzle” and/or “dazzle” I don’t know what does.