Keith Tkachuk announces his retirement from NHL

Tkachuk.jpgWe’re coming to the end of an era.

The past few years, and
continuing on this year and into the next, the NHL is losing some of
it’s most memorable players from the 1990’s. Many of the players that
have retired or will retire soon had some great seasons this past
decade, but I’ll always remember them for what they did for this sport
in the 1990’s.

Those ten years, the NHL experienced some amazing
growth both as a league and in popularity among the fans. At the core of
this growth was a number of extremely exciting players that helped make
the NHL into what it is today. Forget the issues the NHL is having that
led up to the lockout, or even what’s gone wrong afterward; these
players defined the game for a generation.

With Mike Modano likely
playing his final games this season, the past
few years (and the next few) will see a number of the best players from
the 90’s retire: Sergei Federov, Jeremy Roenick, Nicklas Lidstrom, Teemu
Selanne, Paul Kariya and even Chris Chelios (who is amazingly still
playing) have all or will end their careers soon.

Tonight, Keith Tkachuk announced his retirement. He has most of
the past seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues, and will play his final
home game on Friday.From a statement released by the NHL:

“I have been privileged to have a long career in this terrific
league
and play for first class organizations,” said Tkachuk. “My thanks go out
to my current and former teammates, the St. Louis Blues, Phoenix
Coyotes, Winnipeg Jets and Atlanta Thrashers
organizations and most of all to my parents, my wife Chantal, my kids
Matthew, Braeden and Taryn along with all of my other family members for
all of the support they have given me throughout my career.”

Tkachuk
will go down as one of the greatest American players ever to grace the
ice in the NHL, with 525 career goals (to this point) and 1,033 points
in 1, 134 career games. He finished with 50+ goals twice while with the
Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes and along with Jeremy Roenick was crucial
in establishing hockey out in the desert.

It’s going to be sad to
see Tkachuk go, who was a great ambassador for USA hockey. Here’s to two
goals, an assist and 6 penalty minutes in his final game. It would only
be fitting.

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    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.

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    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.