GMs focus on headshots, shootouts at meetings

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headshots.jpgThe NHL’s general managers met in Philadelphia for reasons beyond honoring Coyotes GM Don Maloney as the best general manager of the year. As it turns out, they also discussed some of the league’s most pressing issues, including hits to the head and the excessive effect shootouts have on the way teams play.

The area that looks to see the most change is in headshots, though. TSN has the story, including thoughts from the always outspoken Brian Burke.

The league’s brain trust spent significant time discussing the addition of a major penalty and a game misconduct for east-west, back pressure, or blind side hits; as well as handing out supplemental discipline.

… “It’s one thing to suspend a player, but that has no impact on the game. It doesn’t penalize the team for that game, and our feeling is that it should be five and a game,” explained Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke. “It goes to the Competition Committee next and then the Board of Governors. I can’t imagine that there would be any opposition to it – we have to take that hit out of the game.”

As Burke mentioned, the rule still needs to pass through the Competition Committee and Board of Governors. It’s clear that the league is trying to curb those dangerous hits, though.

It sounds like talk about changing the shootout format is mainly preliminary. Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland proposed changing from a five minute OT to either an eight minute or 10 minute extra period. The goal is to increase the chances of a game ending before it gets to that point.

I’m glad that hits to the head are getting attention, but I’d love to see the league improve the way it handles shootouts. That being said, the idea of reducing the skaters to 3-on-3 toward the end of the overtime period strikes me as a weak band-aid solution. In fact, that might be even worse.

Then again, this is coming from someone who wants shootouts done away with altogether

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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NBCSN screen
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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.

Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
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Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.