Rink to Rink: prepare for overreactions

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Sports writers, bloggers, fans and assorted ragamuffins will often take one game to judge a trade  (or on opening day, a season). Yes, I filed the Philadelphia Flyers under “loser” for the deadline but some people on Twitter made it seem official after one bad game. Remember kids, a lot can happen in one game.

You know, like that time a bunch of scrappy Americans upset a Russian superpower …
Washington Capitals 3, Buffalo Sabres 1
Thanks, American hero Ryan Miller! OK, enough of that, now get back to work because you’ve already lost your first game back and the Sabres are 0-2 this week. (Hockey can be really cruel.)
Oh no, the Flyers are RUINED! Leighton was chased from the net in the second period after allowing 4 goals on 26 shots while David Booth powered the Panthers’ surprising outburst with 1 goal and 3 assists.
Games reviewed after the jump.

I’ll let Mike Babcock’s hilarious quote in the AP article linked above tell most of the story:
“We were poor. We were poor in goal. We were poor in the back end. We were poor up front. We were poor in the work ethic department.”
In other news, Ryan Kesler is my hero.
This game didn’t start off that badly for the Oilers, considering the fact that they dressed an astoundingly sub-par group of defensemen. They even had a 2-1 lead at one point in the second period. The Blackhawks eventually scored four unanswered goals to take the game but Devan Dubynk cannot take much of the blame; he turned aside 42 of 47 shots.
After a spotty (at best) Olympic run by Finland’s mandatory starting goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, the goalie allowed 4 goals on 21 shots. The Wild also managed to score 4 goals without a single PP opportunity. Not a great performance by the Flames. (Oh, and the other Finnish goalie – Niklas Backstrom? He earned a shutout.)
It took exactly one game for Peter Mueller to make both a good impression (PP goal) and bad impression (bad penalty) with the Colorado Avalanche. Nonetheless, Matt Duchene scored the game winner to take the win. Craig Anderson made 31 saves, proving irrefutably that he should have been in Vancouver watching Ryan Miller play for Team USA.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.