In one of the stranger hockey-adjacent stories in recent memory, fans attending Thursday night’s Game Four match-up between the Capitals and Lightning in Washington via public transportation are getting some help from a small Middle Eastern country. The Washington Post reported this evening that the D.C. Metro subway and bus system will stay open for an extra hour on Thursday night, until 12:30 a.m. ET, to accommodate fans attending the game which will begin at 8:00 p.m. ET and the decision comes courtesy of Qatar. The country recently invested in the development of Washington’s City Center and now will support that investment with an additional $100K to keep public transportation operating late tomorrow night. The same extended hours are in effect tonight for Game Three, due to a similar fee paid by the Exelon and Pepco companies, but the investment by Qatar is certainly more intriguing. Perhaps Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the country’s monarchical head of state, has his eye on a Stanley Cup ring if the Capitals go all the way this postseason.
- For those attending Game Three tonight in Washington, they will again be missing out on Nicklas Backstrom. The Caps announced that Backstrom would not play tonight, making it his fourth missed game in a row, dating back to the final game of the Penguins series. Backstrom continues to be sidelined with a hand injury and while the Capitals have three convincing wins thus far without him, his absence is a growing concern. If Backstrom’s hand injury keeps him out for the remainder of the playoffs, Washington may find it difficult to close out the Eastern Conference finals or come away with the Stanley Cup in the next round. The star center would be a major boost to the team if he were to return and we will continue to monitor the situation.
- Draft-eligible defenseman Will MacKinnon announced his commitment to the University of New Hampshire today. The Ohio native is set to join the Wildcats next season. MacKinnon is an intriguing prospect out of the USHL. Prior to this season, MacKinnon was considered a likely mid-round pick after showing his defensive ability with the U.S. National Development U-17 team last season, but his transition to the Des Moines Buccaneers this year has not produced the anticipated boost in scoring and most of his hype has dried up. At this point in his development, MacKinnon appears to be a low-offense, defensive-minded defender, but at just 5’11” it is fair to question if he can play that style at the next level. MacKinnon could very well wind up in a situation where he goes undrafted this year, but improves his draft stock for 2019 with a strong freshman season at UNH. MacKinnon also has be benefit of being the son of experience NHL executive Dan MacKinnon, who is currently the Sr. Director of Player Personnel for the New Jersey Devils. Perhaps New Jersey or one of the elder MacKinnon’s past stops – the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators – could take a late flier on the college-bound rearguard this season. Drafted or not, look for MacKinnon to provide an immediate boost to a Wildcats team that struggled this season and for him to potentially pair up with Florida Panthers draft pick Max Gildon.