Penguins loss not just Crosby and Malkin's fault

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Crosby7.jpgDavid Staples of the Edmonton Journal
has a great post up this morning
, on how the little moves made by
GM Bob Gainey have certainly paid off this postseason. While many teams
went after the big name acquisitions (and only Dany Heatley’s trade has
truly paid off for the Sharks), the Canadiens decided to instead go for
role players, hard working forwards that have made a big difference for
the Habs in the postseason.

He also breaks down what happened with
the Penguins, saying this wasn’t just about Crosby and Malkin not
having a good series:

* Some folks may suggest Sidney
Crosby choked, or that Evgeni Malkin
did. While neither had his best game, Crosby did help manufacture one
Pittsburgh goal with tough play in front of the net. The real goat on
the Pens was Marc-Andre Fleury, who has a great reputation but lets in
far too many soft goals in big games for my liking. Yes, he had a strong
enough series against Detroit last year, but that came after stinking
it out the year before.

While Crosby and Malkin were
certainly outplayed by the Habs’ dynamic duo of Brian Gionta and Mike
Cammalleri (that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write), you can’t put
all the blame squarely on their shoulders.

In their biggest game
of the season, Fleury was downright horrible; inexcusable when compared
to what was happening on the other end of the ice. No matter what his
overall playoffs record may indicate, Fleury has had just one truly
memorable performance in the postseason. Even then, he was marred by
soft goals and despite what some claim he’s yet to prove himself an
elite goaltender in the playoffs.

What has to be most concerning
for the Penguins is what has happened on the blue line and along the
wing. The Penguins received nearly zero production from their secondary
scorers and while this team is known for it’s depth at center it’s the
lack of depth along the wing that was the ultimate kick in the teeth.

The
Penguins are a team that has been built on star power, much like the
Capitals, but it was an overall team effort by a number of role players
that ultimately made the difference for the Canadiens.

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.