Who could be the 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees?

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derianhatcher.jpgIn any selection process, there will be parties who are excluded. When it comes to the Hockey Hall of Fame, it might just be a matter of time for some (like, say, Joe Nieuwendyk) while many worry if they’ll never see the day when they are inducted (sadly, that might apply to Pat Burns). While some retired players might be nursing their wounded egos, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Who will make it next year?”

Great hockey history blogger Joe Pelletier posed that question, too, and looked at which players will be eligible for the first time in 2011.

2011 first-time eligible players:

* Ed Belfour
* Trevor Linden
* Glen Wesley
* Derian Hatcher
* Stu Barnes
* Mattias Norstrom
* Dallas Drake

Of that group, only Belfour has a shot. Trevor Linden is my hero, and Derian Hatcher was my favorite villain, but neither are Hall of Fame worthy. Trust me, that hurts to say it, but it’s true.

I cannot help but agree with Pelletier; it’s good news for the 2010 near-misses to see that Belfour is really the only major competitor. Belfour does have some impressive numbers, though, with 484 regular season wins and 88 in the playoffs. His accomplishments also include a Stanley Cup victory, two Vezinas, a Calder trophy, four William Jennings Trophies for the league’s best GAA and five All-Star appearances.

The jilted potential Hall of Famers might have to put a lot of eggs in the 2011 basket, though, because Pelletier points out the stacked 2012 class.

2012 is a much deeper class:

* Jeremy Roenick
* Mats Sundin
* Joe Sakic
* Curtis Joseph
* Brendan Shanahan
* Olaf Kolzig
* Teppo Numminen
* Markus Naslund
* Gary Roberts
* Claude Lemieux
* Bobby Holik

Wow, what a list! You would have to think Sakic and Shanahan are locks. Sundin will make it too, though maybe not in the first year.

While I’d say that Nieuwendyk, Adam Oates, Doug Gilmour and the other players who did well in our poll of hockey bloggers have a good chance in 2011, it’s clear that the committee is pretty hard to figure out. Ultimately, the hope is that the most deserving get elected. Hockey fans can debate if that happen, but really, those discussions are nothing but good for the sport.

That doesn’t change the fact that I’m disappointed Pat Burns was overlooked.

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:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.