This NHL postseason is heading in very interesting directions. With the exception of the 4 vs 5 match-ups, every favorite has advanced to the second round. Some high seeds, namely Vancouver, Philly and Boston, were stretched to the limit in round one and managed to live on. Still, things look fishy. Chicago coming back to force a Game 7? The Caps down 0-3 to the Lightning!? I smell a conspiracy!
I know, I know. "A conspiracy? Oh no... you're a Caps fan, aren't you?" Yes. But there's something to it this time. It can't all be coincidence!
There are the obvious, 'it's printed in the NHL media guide' conspiracies. With Phoenix singing its swan song as an NHL locale, the NHL needs non-traditional market teams to thrive this playoff season to prove that expansion and relocation were good ideas. Not coincidentally, Nashville, San Jose and Tampa Bay are all still alive. Would anyone be surprised to see a Nashville/Tampa Bay Cup Final during which Gary Bettman waxes poetic about the success of such teams? Then he'll drop the bomb of moving the Islanders to Mexico City.
Then there is the human interest story that would be a Detroit vs. Tampa Bay Final: Stevie Y, the savior of the Red Wings franchise, comes back with his new, young, talented squad to show his old town that he has a hockey mind to go with his exceptional playing and leadership ability. You know the NHL wants this. Yzerman would still get cheered. They'd probably break out Scottie Bowman and Brendan Shanahan for this one. Chris Draper might cry.
Then there is the lack of a 'Sid vs. Ovi' storyline this spring. Why even play the Eastern Conference playoff games unless you can constantly compare the two competing poster boys for the NHL!? Crosby hasn't played a game in over 4 months and you still hear commentators comparing him to Ovechkin. If the Caps don't advance to the next round, will it be because any Caps wins are wasted on a Penguin-less playing field? Hmmm...
Then come the television ratings. After having been short-changed by only getting 5 games of New York-viewed games, Bettman is eager to stretch this series out to 7 games. It would be like the 2004 Yankees/Red Sox, 'down 0-3 and roar back to win' series: a ratings explosion. Why not. Let's Play Seven! Versus needs this!
On the more Roswell-type conspiracy side of things, it also appears that someone has replaced Nicklas Backstrom with a clone that is missing the chromosome required to shoot the puck. Couple that with the nanobots clearly implanted in the Caps' defensemans' minds, telling them to redirect pucks into their own net, and Washington is at a huge disadvantage in this series. Oh, and Guy Boucher is obviously a cyborg from the future. Watch out Sarah Conner!
Finally, there is the most obvious conspiracy: Beard-gate. Thousands of wives and girlfriends are fed up with the plethora of facial hair surrounding the Caps this postseason. Obviously, they've all banded together to ensure we have to shave sooner than later. I don't know how they're doing it, but don't doubt for a second that the women in our lives are behind this.
So close your blinds and put on your tin-foil hats. It's time for Game 4. Watch out for the black helicopters.