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On the Brink: Washington Capitals in T-R-O-U-B-L-E ... Bounce Back Hawks ... NBA Especial: On Frozen Poll

Capsdown Good afternoon everyone, thanks for checking back. Been unavailable the past few days because I was in Tampa helping out a friend, but I'm back in the 954 and ready to talk a little hockey.

Thanks for understanding.

Anyway, been away but have been watching the games. Impressed with the bounce back of the Blackhawks (not so much the complaining of Mike Keenan), digging the Canucks and thinking my Cup pick of a Red Wings repeat wasn't a bad one. Detroit really needs to finish Columbus off quickly, in my opinion, but I don't think that will happen. Well, they'll be going back to Motown. I think C-bus wins one at home, leaving the Wings to win the series at home.

Oh, and how good do the Bruins look? Or is it that Montreal just sucks really bad? Honestly, the Canadiens look awful and, I know this sounds funny coming from a Florida hockey writer, but the Habs don't deserve to be here. They lost four straight to back into the playoffs and are looking like a team that should be playing golf right now.

The Panthers, in my opinion, would lose to Boston in 5 or 6, but would have put up a better show than this. We'll see what Montreal is made of when the series goes north, but I don't think they have anything left.

And you have to give credit to the Rangers for really turning their fortunes around. Since beating Montreal on March 7, New York has won five straight -- including the first two games of its series in Washington. On the Panthers final day at the arena, I went around asking guys who they liked in this series. Almost all of them picked the Rangers because of the goaltending issue. Henrik Lundqvist could save the Rangers; Jose Theodore could cost the Capitals.

Well, in Game 1, that's what happened. Lundqvist survived a hard-charging Caps team in the first and lifts the Rangers to a 4-3 win. Theodore gives up four stoppable goals, and in a surprise, is lifted for Game 2 in favor of 20-year-old rook Simeon Varlamov. On Saturday, the Rangers took Game 2 in D.C., going back to NY with a 2-0 lead and complete control of this series. Even last year, the fresh-faced Caps at least got one win at home before going on the road.

Bruce Boudreau made a big move in pulling his starting goalie after one bad start in the playoffs. Say what you want, but Theodore put Boudreau in this situation. I don't think the coach should have panicked so quickly, but Theodore has shown no reason why he should be trusted he could come back either.

"Like I said the day before, I didn't see that coming, to be honest," Theodore told The Washington Post's Tarik El-Basir about getting the hook.

"As one thing through my career that no one could take away was I was always a fighter and able to bounce back through big challenges. And for me, that was a big challenge. But I didn't have a chance to bounce back because I didn't play."

Game 3 in tomorrow in NY, and the pressure is squarely on the Caps and their offensive stars. The Capitals have enough weapons to get back in this thing, and I don't think for one second that the series is over. Alexander Ovechkin could get rolling and Mike Green could start putting some pucks in and whomever is in goal (Varlamov gave up one yesterday but do you put the 20-year-old into a must-win at the Garden?) needs to make some stops.

The Rangers aren't a bunch of worldbeaters, but they are playing well right now, playing together. And Lundqvist is awesome. But the Caps can get back in this thing. They just better hurry up.

-- If you haven't done so, visit El-Bashir's Capitals Insiders site. Chock full of good Caps stuff. Would be remiss if I also didn't point out Corey Masisak's site @ The Washington Times. The Caps are well covered. And smothered.

-- Got to like the way Chicago has handled the postseason pressure. Sure, the home team is expected to go up 2-0, but the Blackhawks have been able to win two straight over the JokiKeenans by showing some real resiliency. In Game 1, the Hawks are down 2-1 after Mike Cammalleri scores early in the third, but Martin Havlat scored late to tie it then puts one past Kipper 12 seconds into overtime for the win.

Last night, the Hawks were down 2-0 but stormed back by getting three goals in the second period and held on for another 3-2 win. Jonathan Toews was the hero this time, getting the first and third goals for a Chicago team flying high as it heads to Calgary.

For some good Chicago info, check out Chris Kuk's site @ The Chicago Tribune. When I want Flames news, I go to Flames Insider.

-- Big game today in Philly as the Flyers try to get back in this series with the Pens. Game time @ 3 p.m. on NBC.

-- TSN says sources tell them that Paul Kariya will not play for the Blues tonight when they play host to the Luongos.

-- The Bs could be without Milan Lucic for a game or two after he crosschecked Maxim Lapierre last night. He's got a meeting with Gregory Campbell's dad today.

-- South Florida's other winter team makes its playoff debut tonight as the Heat visit Atlanta at 7:30 on Sunshine Network. Your thoughts on the Heat's postseason chances below as we offer a bonus On Frozen Poll!

Also, thanks to all who took part in our last poll (regarding the Panthers' logo in the urinal). Very popular poll, with votes coming from throughout North America, with votes coming in from Brazil, Israel, France, Germany, Finland, South Korea and even India. Not too late to vote. Most people think it was disrespectful, FYI....



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