- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

SATURDAY’S BEST BET ON TELEVISION

A win against Memphis would put Maryland in its first regional semifinal since 2003. 3:20 p.m., Chs. 9, 13

HOCKEY HISTORY 101

The ire poured on Alex Ovechkin after Thursday night’s game makes it clear the NHL needs a history lesson.

Blogs and other media outlets that cover the league were all atwitter about Alex Ovechkin’s celebration of his 50th goal of the season. Ovechkin dropped his stick and pretended it was a burning ember.

The act, which lasted only a few seconds, left Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet seething. Caps coach Bruce Boudreau wasn’t pleased either, and he made that clear to Ovechkin on Friday.

Then there’s Canadian pundit Don Cherry, who has criticized No. 8’s antics in the past and no doubt will do so again on his segment Saturday night.

Apparently they’ve all forgotten that choreographed post-goal celebrations have a long history in the NHL. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, enforcer Tiger Williams marked goals by riding his stick up the ice like a witch on a broomstick. After breaking the rookie scoring record in 1993, Teemu Selanne held his stick to his shoulder, tossed a glove in the air and pretended to play “Duck Hunt.” Milan Hejduk once dived headfirst and swam to the red line. The list goes on.

The NHL has done a lot in the past five years to relegate itself to a fringe sport, and censoring the league’s most exciting player isn’t going to draw any fans.

TWT Five Caps’ first-round matchups

With the Eastern Conference playoff race so tight, the Capitals could face any of seven teams in the first round. Here’s a look at a few, from most favorable matchup to least:

1. Carolina — Hurricanes are 15th in goals allowed, and the Caps are quite familiar with their division foe.

2. Montreal — Canadiens have allowed more goals (215) than they’ve scored (212) and are under .500 on the road.

3. Philadelphia — The Flyers rely on a pair of streaky goaltenders, and the Caps would be out for blood after last year’s Game 7.

4. New York Rangers — After adding Nik Antropov, Derek Morris and Sean Avery, the Rangers could beat anyone in the first round.

5. Pittsburgh — The Penguins have lost once in regulation since Feb. 14 (to the Caps, notably). Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are the most dangerous center combo in the league.

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