Toews, Kane hit bonuses; Blackhawks over the salary cap by millions

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Kane8.jpgYou have to give Dale Tallon credit. He was given free reign to do
whatever was needed to build a Stanley Cup champion and that’s exactly
what he did. He may not have been able to stick with the team due to an
inability to work a fax machine, but he was able to bring a Cup back to
the city after a very, very long time.

Now comes the hardest part
of all: keeping this team together.

We’ve chronicled in the past
how the Blackhawks will be facing salary cap hell next season, but until
now we didn’t realize just how bad things were. Even with the cap
jumping up next season, we were under the impression that the Hawks
would be right up against the cap; instead, the Hawks are actually over
the cap already.

By $4 million. With only 14 players under
contract next season.

Why so much over? Turns out that Patrick
Kane and Jonathan Toews hit on all over their entry-level bonuses this
past season. With the Hawks already hard up against the cap for this
season, the “excess” goes against next year’s cap. From
James Mirtle:

‘A’ Performance Bonuses, meanwhile, are things like number of goals,
assists and points, targets that are set by teams, players and their
agents when the contract is signed and that max out at $850,000 a
season.

Both players maxed out all of their ‘A’ and ‘B’ bonuses this year to
push their team over the cap, meaning that while every other team will
be working with about a $58.5-million cap next season, Chicago’s cap
“penalty” will mean a ceiling of closer to $54.5-million.

The good news is, I guess, that most of the players entering RFA or
UFA status this summer were just role players for the Hawks during their
Stanley Cup run. Then you have players such as Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager,
Niklas Hjalmarsson and Antti Niemi all set to become RFA’s this summer;
those are players you would think the Hawks will want to keep.

But how?

As of right now, the Blackhawks have no ability whatsoever to sign
any more players. They’ll either have to restructure contracts or move
some players in order to free up cap space; then they’ll be lucky to be
able to fill out the rest of the roster with players getting the league
minimum.

The core of the Blackhawks will remain in tact, and I don’t believe
fans will have to worry about this team being blown up just as soon as
they reach the pinnacle of greatness. But expect this team to look very
different next season. Players like Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, Dave
Bolland, and even Brian Campbell could be moved this summer in order to
get the Hawks back where they need to be. [Update: Forget Brian Campbell – he has a NTC.]

That still leaves several RFA players to be signed as well, and you wonder if even moving some of those named above will be enough. You know the Blackhawks want to keep Niemi, but how will they be able to afford it?

Stan Bowman, come on down.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for today

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After the Eastern Conference Game 2s played out on Saturday, we’re getting the Western Conference set today. You can watch the action via NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Here’s a quick overview of where specifically you can watch the contests:

St. Louis at Dallas (3:00 p.m. ET)

If you want to watch the game on television, NBC is the channel to do that. If you want to stream the game with the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Nashville at San Jose (8:00 p.m. ET)

The game will be televised on NBCSN. You can also stream the contest by clicking here.

Here’s some relevant pregame reading material:

With Eaves injured, Nichushkin will play for Stars in Game 2

Hitchcock, Blues know they need to slow down the Stars … but can they?

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning: