The best male hockey players are not competing in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. That’s because the National Hockey League (NHL) decided not to allow its players to participate in the Winter Games this year.
So let’s check in on some of the big stories in the best hockey league on Earth.
Washington Capitals: It seems funny to say, but the Capitals have been lucky so far this season.
The Caps have long specialized in losing heartbreaking seven-game series in the NHL playoffs. But this year, the puck seems to be bouncing Washington’s way.
The Caps have an excellent record of 34-19-7 (34 wins, 19 losses and seven overtime losses) even though they have outscored their opponents by only seven goals.
Alex Ovechkin is leading the way with 36 goals. The superstar left wing is also playing a terrific all-around game, having dealt out 31 assists. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie are all helping on the front lines, while John Carlson is having an outstanding season on defense.
Could this be the year the Capitals finally get lucky in the playoffs?
Vegas Golden Knights: The biggest surprise of the season by far is that the Las Vegas team — in its first season in the NHL — has one of the best records in the league (39-16-4).
When the Golden Knights became the league’s 31st team, the NHL allowed the other 30 teams to protect most of their best players. Then Vegas picked from the leftovers to form its team.
It turns out the leftovers are pretty good. While the Golden Knights do not have any big-name stars, they have three very solid lines that can put the puck in the net. Vegas is second in the NHL in goals per game.
Add steady goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban, and the NHL’s newest team is a legitimate contender.
Outdoor hockey: For the past 10 seasons, the NHL has played at least one regular-season game in an outdoor stadium. Fans have flocked to games in such famous sports palaces as Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. More than 100,000 fans filled the University of Michigan’s football stadium to watch a hockey game on New Year’s Day in 2014.
On March 3, the Capitals will host the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. It should be a great game in a very cool place.
If you can’t get to the game, don’t worry: It will be televised on NBC.
Let’s hope the weather cooperates. Temperatures in the Washington area have reached the 70s a couple of times this week. Not exactly hockey weather.
Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 23 sports books for kids. His latest, “Lucky Enough,” has just been published.