Tonight’s slate of games includes four contests, including an interesting matchup that professional wrestling announcers would probably describe in “irresistible force versus immovable object” type terms. Let’s preview those games now. As always, all times are Eastern (ET).
Boston @ Washington
This game is that irresistible force (the Capitals offense) vs. immovable object (Claude Julien’s defensive-minded system) battle. Although don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the Bruins offense has been that anemic; they most recently pounded the New Jersey Devils 5-1. The Capitals have been pretty stingy, too, only allowing 11 goals in five games as Michal Neuvirth seems pretty comfortable in their net.
Calgary @ Nashville
Rumor has it that Predators starter Pekka Rinne will return from injury today, although I wonder if it might better if rookie Anders Lindback deserves one more start. For one thing it would give Rinne a little extra time to heal and Lindback was pretty effective in his three starts, going 2-0-1 with his only loss coming against the Capitals in OT. Combine his solid play with Rinne’s struggles against the Flames (0-2, 4.83 GAA in three starts against Calgary) and I think the Predators should at least consider starting Lindback.
Vancouver @ Minnesota
While Henrik Sedin gained the glory in the form of a Hart and Art Ross Trophy last season, Daniel Sedin wasn’t far behind – he just missed some games with injury issues. To further illustrate his also-elite status, the “Shooting Sedin” comes into tonight’s game with a 15-game point scoring streak dating back to last season. Both teams could really use this win, as the Canucks are 0-2 on the road while the Wild are only 1-2 at home.
Carolina @ San Jose
The Sharks didn’t have much luck at home against a Southeast Division opponent (blowing a 2-0 lead against the Atlanta Thrashers), so San Jose hopes for more luck against the Hurricanes. The numbers are on the Sharks’ side, though, as San Jose won four of its last five home games against Carolina and hasn’t lost in regulation at home against Carolina since March 2000, according to Stats Inc.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
—Martin Jones is a calming presence in the Sharks’ net. (Sports Illustrated)
–The Rangers should go after Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. (The Hockey News)
–Some people have pretty wild hockey tattoos. (BarDown)
–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)
–A great piece on how Bruce Boudreau impacted the Ducks and Capitals. (Sportsnet)
–It should be an interesting off-season for the Anaheim Ducks. (Daily Breeze)
—Adam Henrique is a funny guy. He took to Twitter to try and get himself on the cover of NHL 17:
Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.
(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)
You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.
Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.
Letang told his side of the story:
The Capitals disagree:
While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:
No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.
If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.
The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.
(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)
Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.
A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.
First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.
Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.
Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.
In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.
This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.
It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.
(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)
There are a few things we do know already.
For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.
Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.
In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.
There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.