It was billed as the hockey playoff series everyone wanted to see, and for six games it was. With three overtimes in that spell — and two other games that easily could have been pushed into extra frames, too — the Capitals-Penguins second rounder felt like an instant classic heading into Game 7. All it needed was a respectable finale.
It didn’t get one.
Instead, Pittsburgh’s experienced markmen carved up Washington’s rookie goalie, Simeon Varlamov, jumping out to a 5-0 lead before finishing with a 6-2 victory in D.C., which spent much of the third period reminiscing about a strong season and wondering what might havce been.
That made for a deflating end to Alex Ovechkin’s second playoff campaign, with Washington’s transcendent star thoroughly outshone by Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby, whose two goals and an assist paced Pittsburgh’s stunning Game 7 rout.
In fact, while conventional wisdom holds there’s nothing like a Game 7 in hockey, this graph from the WASHINGTON POST’s writeup of the game tells you all you need to know about what got the Caps into trouble:
Varlamov wasn’t totally to blame; he didn’t get much help from his teammates, who were outplayed in almost every sense of the word. They took bad penalties. They were beaten to loose pucks. They made mental miscues when the team could least afford one.
The game began with Ovechkin being stopped by Marc-André Fleury on a breakaway after 3 minutes 1 second with a brilliant glove save. It was all downhill from there for the Capitals.
There you go, and there go the Caps in a game which could have cemented Washington’s status as a burgeoning hockey town. Instead, it’ll just be a quiet one until training camp starts this summer.
If it helps cushion the blow, the Caps didn’t go quietly into the night alone. The Mavericks are headed to the golf course, too, thanks to a dominant performance by, who else, Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony, in a 124-110 victory.
Only Dirk Nowitzki really showed up for Dallas, which is nice considering the fact that his pregnant fiancee most definitely couldn’t be there. And while the final scoreline shows a 14-point victory for Denver, it felt bigger than that, since the Nuggets opened up an equal 14-point lead by halftime and never really looked back.
Not to be overshadowed by the exploits of his own team on the court, Dallas owner Mark Cuban had his apology to the mother of Kenyon Martin labeled as insincere by none other than K-Mart himself. And he had company, with Carmelo also questioning whether Cuban could possibly be sincere with an apology posted in the middle of the night on his personal blog. In fact, while we’re at it, I’d like to apologize to my second grade art teacher. I really didn’t mean to spill all the macaroni for those zebra designs on the floor, and I really shouldn’t have laughed so loud when they flew all over the floor and you had to throw them out. If I knew how little money you made, I never would have laughed.
Meanwhile, Urban Meyer now seems to be taking the whole insular identity of college campuses a little too seriously. In the aftermath of his second national title as Gators coach, Meyer is out for vengeance against all his critics, particularly those who may have set foot on the Gainesville campus before he got there.
Case in point: Last fall, former Gators quarterback Shane Matthews, a proud, former greasy-haired Florida alum, offered up one of the stronger rebukes of Meyer’s game strategy after UF’s lone loss, to Ole Miss.
At the time, Matthews called the Rebels’ man-to-man defense on Florida’s wide receivers an outright affront to the team’s passing game, questioning why Meyer wouldn’t take advantage of what seemed like mismatches.
That led to a stern speech at a Gator Club (read: really rich alumni) rally where Meyer said former players who criticized any part of the program could buy a ticket to a game, not hob nob in the team’s athletic offices.
Needless to say, that’s made plenty of headlines because it was uttered by Urban Meyer, since anything he says at this point ends up on a front page in any state with an SEC school.
For his part, Matthews is just amazed that the entire episode has become such a media flashpoint.
“I’m as Gator as there is and very supportive of the program,” he said on ESPN Wednesday. “You can be critical of a coaching decision here and there, but that’s just being a Monday morning quarterback, everyone does that.”
He’s that, and a well-known radio host, so it is kind of his job to critique coaches’ decisions. It’s not like he’s some Florida high school football coach. Maybe Meyer can consider that the next time he launches a diatribe, or maybe not. After all, Urban Meyer does what Urban Meyer thinks he should, when he thinks he should.
• The spiraling investigation into O.J. Mayo’s recruitment has led to, fittingly enough, O.J. Mayo. He met with federal investigators about his brother yesterday, who also may have received kickbacks from Mayo’s former handlers.
• Anyone surprised that LeBron James was a unanimous pick to the All-NBA team? Anyone? OK then.
• Rampage Jackson beats up some fat mock fighter in a video game. See, it’s funny because Rampage Jackson is a crazy person. He might go steal a car and run over a smart car to celebrate!
• You know, thinking about Cuban and K-Mart makes us wonder, who would win in a fight between the two?
• This has got to be the stupidest promotional item we’ve ever seen. Even Dale Earnhardt Jr. won’t go anywhere near that thing.
• Is the world ready for Kimbo Slice the boxer? We’re still not sure the world was ready for Kimbo Slice the MMAer, and we know he wasn’t ready for it.
• Does Cristiano Ronaldo look a little too tranfixed in this video to anyone else? And if you spend 10 or more seconds looking at a boner, does that make you at least ambiguous.
• Just when you thought things might finally be looking promising for the Eagles, one of Andy Reid’s sons goes and gets himself sent back to the slammer. Nice work Garrett Reid. Donovan McNabb doesn’t send his condolences.
• Mike Holmgren may want to come back and coach, but at least we know that Dick Vermeil isn’t walking back through that door.
• Wait, so just because Al Davis hated Tim Brown, that means he hates all black players from Notre Dame? Is there a significant difference between those two classifications? How many other black Notre Dame alums have played in Oakland?