After an off-day in the Stanley Cup's conference finals - and nearly a week off in the Calder Cup conference finals - the pucks are set to restart in earnest this weekend with the Capitals now one week into their summer vacation.
On the Caps front, not a lot has happened since the team spread across the globe following the end to their season, only George McPhee's quote this week in the Post that he prefers trades to free agents - although that's not much of a surprise, as he usually holds his cards very close to the vest, but there seems to be a definite direction he wants to go with this team.
Not much will be happening until after the NHL Awards June 18th, when Alexander Ovechkin finds out if he's the back-to-back Hart Winner and Mike Green finds out of he wins the Norris (and thankfully for him, the voting was done before the playoffs). Following that, the NHL Draft takes place in Montreal, which figures to be a busy place for McPhee if he truly wants to go the trade route, since teams want to set deals up before free agency opens up on July 1st.
While the Bears have been off since Sunday, they resume their series Friday at the aptly-named Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence tied at one, with Game 4 coming Sunday and Game 5 Monday before the series possibly could head back to Pennsylvania for Wednesday and Thursday next week with at least one victory for Hershey.
Unfortunately for the Capitals, the Hurricanes seem to be suddenly bitten by the injury bug, and had they been able to deliver a much more complete game eight days ago, they'd have an excellent chance at the franchise's second Stanley Cup appearance.
Pittsburgh ground down the 'Canes in Game 1, and once again, was able to limit Marc-Andre Fleury's somewhat adventurous goaltending by keeping down shots on him, although ex-Cap Matt Cooke's slew foot injury of Erik Cole could provide a spark for the 'Canes like Aaron Ward's injury in the Bruins series gave Boston. However, Carolina will need to grab Game 2 if they want to take this series, as it's going to be tough to win four of five against the Penguins.
Out west, the Blackhawks look to recover from a costly giveaway in overtime of Game 2, as Brian Campbell's gift now has Chicago in the predicament Carolina's trying to avoid. Right now, Detroit is the team to beat, because if their only perceived weakness - Chris Osgood in net - is as solid as he's been lately, the Red Wings are the odds-on favorite to become the first team to repeat as champs since Detroit claimed the Cup at then-MCI Center in 1998.
The lull is a stark reminder of the hockey-less summer that's upon us, as the off-days will really begin to mount before teams look to improve themselves for the 2009-2010 season in a couple of weeks.