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We can understand if you don't want to take the time to grade your tech-support help on the other end of the telephone, but when we're talking about the dollars and emotion you've invested in sports, we think it's worth the effort. It's time for ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Standings, in which SportsNation grades organizations on everything from ticket prices and stadium experience to the talent on the field, court or rink. Which team will end up on top this year? It depends on what you say.

Take part in the 2011 MLB survey
2010 MLB Ultimate Standings
1. Los Angeles Angels (Overall: No. 3)
2. Tampa Bay Rays (Overall: No. 6)
3. Colorado Rockies (Overall: No. 13)
4. Minnesota Twins (Overall: No. 14)
5. Atlanta Braves (Overall: No. 15)

Take part in the 2011 NFL survey
2010 NFL Ultimate Standings
1. New Orleans Saints (Overall: No. 1)
2. Indianapolis Colts (Overall: No. 4)
3. Green Bay Packers (Overall: No. 9)
4. Arizona Cardinals (Overall: No. 19)
5. Baltimore Ravens (Overall: No. 20)

Take part in the 2011 NBA survey
2010 NBA Ultimate Standings
1. Orlando Magic (Overall: No. 2)
2. San Antonio Spurs (Overall: No. 7)
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (Overall: No. 10)
4. Dallas Mavericks (Overall: No. 24)
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (Overall: No. 25)

Take part in the 2011 NHL survey
2010 NHL Ultimate Standings
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (Overall: No. 5)
2. Detroit Red Wings (Overall: No. 8)
3. Washington Capitals (Overall: No. 11)
4. San Jose Sharks (Overall: No. 12)
5. Chicago Blackhawks (Overall: No. 16)

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With apologies to our Canadians friends (and their compatriots in Minnesota, Michigan and other places where plugging in your car at night doesn't mean you've gone electric), the NHL schedule would usually find itself relegated to the shadows on a night featuring a big NBA game (Spurs at Magic), a mildly compelling college football bowl game (San Diego State vs. Navy) and anything the NFL cares to offer (even Panthers at Steelers).

But the Penguins visiting the Capitals is not your typical NHL game.

Maybe the Capitals are just beginning to emerge from a recent seven-game losing streak, and maybe Alex Ovechkin isn't scoring goals this season, but is the NHL still the best show in town when these two teams meet?

Bernie (DC)

Pierre do you think this down period for the Caps will make them strong by the end of the season? Are do you see this as a symptom of bad things to come? (For Bruce B or GMGM)

Pierre LeBrun
Pierre LeBrun

Bernie, in chatting with GM GM during the worst streth of the skid, that's what he truly believed. That this adversity would really help them down the road. Full transcript

Candy (Washington)

When will Ovechkin score a goal??

Barry Melrose
Barry Melrose

That's the question of the year. I never thought I'd see Ovechkin go into January with under 15 goals. Obviously this has to change for Washington. The good news is the Caps and Ovechkin have played two good games in a row. Maybe Thursday night against Pittsburgh will be the jump start that Ovechkin needs. Full transcript

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The NHL could not have drawn up a better situation -- and for once, that's not a backhanded slap at Gary Bettman's penchant for shooting his league in the foot (like, say, overlapping the Bruins and Flyers in Game 6 with Game 7 in Pittsburgh).

The Penguins and Canadiens will have the sporting stage almost completely to themselves when they take the ice for Game 7 in Pittsburgh. No NBA playoff games. An MLB slate loaded with both afternoon starts and late games on the West Coast. No impending Thursday tee times for Tiger Woods. If you're looking for sports Wednesday night -- and don't have Phil Hughes or David Price in fantasy baseball -- you're watching hockey.

But what's the best outcome for the sport? Does the NHL need Sidney Crosby to draw in casual fans for the next two rounds, or is a Cinderella -- especially one from the sport's heartland -- always the best way to create rooting interest?

Mark (New York)

What are your thoughts on Crosby's play this series? He has 1 goal and 4 assists (Ovie had 5 goals and 5 assists against the Habs) and seems to be reverting extremely to his whining and unsportsmanlike conduct. It seems whenever he is on the ice, Crosby is either yapping at the refs or taking a cheap shot at a Hab (like his cheap shots against Subban and Plekanec in the third last night).

E.J. Hradek
E.J. Hradek

As always, Sidney has been the focal point of the opposition. He competes hard every night and contributes in other areas. The Canadiens have to expend energy on him all over. He has shown some signs of frustration this series. That's really to his detriment, because the just feeds into Montreal's psyche. He'd be better served to keep that frustration under his hat. It's a physical, hard game and he wants to win. It just bubbles over. As for Alex, he did everything he could do. He is a different type of player. I just think that in some cases all of these guys try to do too much sometimes. That's when they get into trouble. We have a Game 7 coming up, so we'll see if Sidney can add Wednesday night. Full transcript

Mark (New York)

The Pens seemed to have been willing to scrap the excessive shooting on Halak to instead screen him much more effectively and try to get the puck in from the cycle or out farther from the crease. Is this the same type of adjustment Washington should have made after continually peppering Halak with no success?

Scott Burnside
Scott Burnside

Jason; In hindsight I'm sure Bruce Boudreau et al wish they'd tried something different but they seemed incapable of getting out of their habit of blasting away. In Game 1 of this series, for instance, the Penguins gave up shots and patiently waited for lanes to open up. It's not easy and the Habs have been great about not giving those lanes. As for working the puck low and trying to get Halak going side to side or jamming the front of the net, I think that's the key to success for the Pens, something the Caps didn't do much of especially later in that series. Full transcript

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It's just like the census, only this one is fun and doesn't come in the mail. And nobody from FOX News or MSNBC will yell at you about it. It's time for ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Standings, in which SportsNation grades organizations on everything from ticket prices and stadium experience to the talent on the field, court or rink. Which team will end up on top this year? It depends on what you say.

Take part in the 2010 MLB survey
2009 MLB Ultimate Standings
1. Los Angeles Angels (Overall: No. 1)
2. Milwaukee Brewers (Overall: No. 7)
3. Tampa Bay Rays (Overall: No. 16)
4. Minnesota Twins (Overall: No. 23)
5. Philadelphia Phillies (Overall: No. 24)

Take part in the 2010 NFL survey
2009 NFL Ultimate Standings
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (Overall: No. 3)
2. Green Bay Packers (Overall: No. 13)
3. Indianapolis Colts (Overall: No. 14)
4. Tennessee Titans (Overall: No. 15)
5. New England Patriots (Overall: No. 19)

Take part in the 2010 NBA survey
2009 NBA Ultimate Standings
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (Overall: No. 5)
2. San Antonio Spurs (Overall: No. 9)
3. New Orleans Hornets (Overall: No. 12)
4. Houston Rockets (Overall: No. 17)
5. Orlando Magic (Overall: No. 18)

Take part in the 2010 NHL survey
2009 NHL Ultimate Standings
1. Carolina Hurricanes (Overall: No. 2)
2. Detroit Red Wings (Overall: No. 4)
3. Washington Capitals (Overall: No. 6)
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (Overall: No. 8)
5. St. Louis Blues (Overall: No. 10)

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The Flyers edged out the Rangers Sunday in a game between teams fighting for the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, the back end of a home-and-home set that marked arguably the first and last instance of regular-season drama in the NHL. But after the marathon of often meaningless games, we're finally to the playoffs, where the handshake lines get long, the beards longer and the overtimes, if we're lucky, longest of all.

So is the NHL setting itself up for a marketing disaster?

The Olympics were great because we got the Canada-USA final everyone on this side of the Atlantic wanted. No matter how good a game it might have been, Finland-Czech Republic wouldn't have generated much buzz. So it is with the potential for a rematch between the Capitals and Penguins in the East.

On paper, Alex Ovechkin's top-seeded Caps and Sidney Crosby's fourth-seeded Penguins should meet in the second round ... except the NHL resets the pairings after each round of the playoffs, meaning even if the Penguins and Caps both win in the first round, they only meet in the second round if there are no other upsets. And at least for casual fans, Ovechkin vs. Crosby might be a bigger draw than even Lord Stanley's Cup. Pick winners.

Sam (State College)

Last year is over, and this pens team is not the same as last year. But am I the only one not freaking out? Obviously I would have loved my pens to beat nj/was, but the playoffs are a whole different story. I not saying the pens don't have concerns, but am I wrong for not jumping off a bridge like many others?

Pierre LeBrun
Pierre LeBrun

They have the knowledge of winning a championship and those Cup rings are very important. They bring calm and confidence to a dressing room come playoff time. But I still think Washington is the team to beat this year. Full transcript

Tim (Guam, Western Pacific Ocean)

Can the Caps actually adopt and play a defensive game come the playoffs? The scoring in buckets theory really isn't playoff hockey for most successful Cup teams.

Scott Burnside
Scott Burnside

Tim: Agreed that it's been a long time since a team played a run and gun style and won a Cup (okay, how about the Oilers anyone?), but I also think the Caps' defensive deficiencies have been a bit overstated. The first round will be a good barometer, I think, as they should cruise through whichever team they face, but it will give a good indication of whether they can tighten up when needed. I suspect they will. Full transcript

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