Bruins angry about "dirty hit" by Matt Cooke

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We’ve this type of hit too many times this season, and it seems that
every week we’re writing about another player leaving the ice on a
stretcher as the result of a questionable or dirty hit. Yesterday
Marc Savard suffered a concussion
and briefly lost consciousness as
the result of a blind-side hit by the Penguins’ Matt Cooke.

The issue at hand is the fact that currently there exists a gray area
when it comes to these sorts of hits; obviously elbows to the head are
illegal but the blind checks that are causing a number of these injuries
are not. Mike Richards was not suspended earlier this season for a very
similar check on David Booth; the slight difference there was the fact
that Richards’ shoulder and not his elbow did the damage. However, both
hits have the exact same devastating effect.

There’s no question that Cooke will be suspended for this hit and it
could be a lengthy one; he’s already been suspended three times by the
NHL and twice this season. Of course, Bruins
coach Claude Julien believes it was a dirty hit:

“It’s pretty obvious that was definitely a dirty hit,” said Bruins
coach Claude Julien, who said Cooke should be suspended. “That’s
probably the classic blind-side hit to the head.”

Watching the replay of the hit, it certainly appears that Cooke lays
his elbow and arm into the head of Savard. Cooke maintains that he was
just finishing his check, but even if that was the case there’s no need
to lift your arm for the hit.

These type of open ice, blind sided checks that occur after a player
releases the puck are exceptionally dangerous, but they are still not
illegal…technically. Sidney Crosby wants clarification.

“At some point, there’s got to be a clear indication from
the league (what’s legal and what’s not) because we’ve seen this so
many times now,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “You don’t like
to see anyone, your own teammate or an opposing player, lay on the ice
like that.”

I understand the thought that there
needs to be better clarification in the rules in regard to these type of
hits, but there’s no question that the elbow in this case did the
damage. So whether the hit itself is illegal or not is irrelevant; he’ll
be suspended and it should be for a long term this time around.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.