NHL Blog Beat – April 4, 2014

Analysis of the Capitals decline, how Sidney Crosby carried the Penguins this season, the best possible NHL first-round matchups and more in today’s collections of hockey blogging goodness.

BACKHAND SHELF: Justin Bourne suggests complaints over Alexander Ovechkin’s weak backchecking in a recent game was overblown.

Adam Oates (center)and Alexander Ovechkin could face the heat for the Capitals missing the playoffs.

Adam Oates (center)and Alexander Ovechkin could face the heat for the Capitals missing the playoffs.

RUSSIAN MACHINE NEVER BREAKS: Peter Hassett with arguments for and against firing Capitals head coach Adam Oates.

JAPERS’ RINK: Reviewing the Capitals death march through the month of March.

SB NATION: Adam Gretz explains how Sidney Crosby has carried the Penguins this season.

GRANTLAND: Sean McIndoe ranks the best possible NHL matchups in the opening round of the upcoming playoffs.

ISLANDERS INSIGHT: Andy Graziano weighs in on recent speculation the NY Islanders could be sold to Philadelphia lawyer Andrew Barroway.

DOBBER HOCKEY: Eric Daoust on the impact of injuries for fantasy GMs.

THE HOCKEY WRITERS: Kathy Mizera on the emotional toll of playoff elimination.

THE PREDATORIAL: Kristopher Martel examines if it is time for the Nashville Predators to engage in an overhaul.

LITTER BOX CATS: Francisco Oporta explores the reasons behind the hatred among NHL fans and pundits of the Sunbelt franchises.