Forget the 'conspiracy', Canucks have other issues

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Canucks.jpgIt happens in all sports, not just the NHL. Fans become convinced
that there is a ‘conspiracy’ in place against their team, some sort of
call from a higher authority that determines the trajectory a team
takes. This is amped up even more, when penalty calls and decisions made
by NHL officials can have a direct result on a playoff series.

Detroit
Red Wings fans are convinced the NHL has it out for their team.

Dallas
Mavericks fans are convinced the NBA decided their loss to the Heat in
the finals (although with NBA officiating, that may have some merit).

Now,
it seems, the Vancouver Canucks could have a target on their backs. With Mike Murphy, former coach of the Kings, as the VP of hockey operations there are claims that he’s calling the shots in favor of the Kings.

I’m
not buying it.

Bad calls are made against every team, in every
sport, all the time. In fact, as
Greg Wyshynski puts it on Puck Daddy
, the War Room decisions are a
consensus of a group of people. It’s not just Murphy making the
decisions.

If the NHL really had it out for the Red
Wings, then the league wouldn’t have called back several borderline
goals by the Dallas Stars two years ago. They wouldn’t have given Todd
Bertuzzi a goal this season when he “kicked” it in when the back of his
skate.

What is really unfortunate, is when the media plays up the
conspiracy theories as well. From
Ed Willes of The Province:

Oh, the call on
Daniel’s non-goal will make for some talk-show fodder
today, particularly because it’s now clear the NHL wants the Kings to
win.

To be fair, Willes’ article harps on how the
Canucks are doing everything wrong if they hope to beat the Kings, and
that should really be the focus of this series. Forget the penalty calls
or the controversial goal; the NHL makes horrible war room decisions
all the time, not just against the Canucks or the Red Wings.

Let’s
talk about how Roberto Luongo looks just as bad as he did coming back
from the Olympics. How Henrik Sedin is struggling to live up
expectations. How the Vancouver defense is left standing around and
watching as the Kings forwards overmatch them game after game. That is
where the focus should be. Forget conspiracies, it’s just a way of
forgetting what the real issues are with your team.

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.