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Ovechkin, Crosby favor NHL going directly into playoffs

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Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are on the same page: They would like the NHL to go directly to the playoffs if and when play resumes.

The two rival Metropolitan Division captains shared their views Thursday during a video conference call hosted by the league.

“I mean, you try to get in as many games as you can, I think. But I wouldn’t mind starting right in the playoffs,” said Crosby, whose Pittsburgh Penguins were third in the division standings when the season was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Crosby acknowledged the more regular season games that can be squeezed in would be better for the integrity of the playoffs.

Ovechkin had the same idea.

“For, me of course, the more games we play, it’s going to be better for our fans and it’s going to be better for teams fighting for the playoffs,” said Ovechkin, whose Washington Capitals lead the division. “But I’d rather start the playoffs right away.”

Ovechkin then broke into a smile and said, “Sorry guys,” referring to the other three players on the video call. Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno didn’t take offense and said: “Don’t say sorry to me. We’re in a playoff spot.”

The calls featured representatives from each of the eight Metropolitan teams. Similar calls featuring players of teams from the league’s other three divisions will take place into next week.

There is no timetable for when play will resume and it has not been determined whether the league will complete the regular season. There were 189 games left on the schedule when play was stopped, and both conferences featured tightly contested playoff races.

In the East, Carolina and Columbus were tied with 81 points in holding the conference’s two wild-card spots, with the New York Islanders (80 points), New York Rangers (79) and Florida (78) all in contention.

Teams also had not played an equal series of games, with the Islanders having played 68 to Columbus’ 70.

In the West, Winnipeg (80 points) and Nashville (78) held the conference’s two wild-card spots, with the Predators having the edge over Vancouver despite being tied in points. Minnesota sat a point back.

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For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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