When Joe wondered whether the NHL made the wrong choice when it didn’t postpone Sunday’s Toronto Maple Leafs-New Jersey Devils game, he rightly focused on how much danger fans might have gone through to attend the snow-challenged contest.
Apparently the “state of emergency” in New Jersey affected players on each team, too. While the Leafs’ bus had trouble navigating the snowy roads of Newark, Devils forwards Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias faced a true air conditioned nightmare last night.
We’ll go into greater detail about their long night on a New Jersey highway, but here’s a quick synopsis: Elias and Zajac left the game around 10:45 pm yet they didn’t get home until about 7:30 in the morning. Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger captures the experience of spending nearly eight hours stranded between exits 10 and 11 on Route 280 in Newark.
“The company was good but the situation was terrible,” Zajac recalled today after the Devils practiced at the AmeriHealth Pavilion in snowy Newark. “It wouldn’t have happened in Winnipeg. A little snow doesn’t shut down the whole state (province).”
“We slept in the car. All we had was one pack of peanuts,” Zajac said. “They shut down 280 and we were in the middle of it. It was at a standstill.”
Elias kept the motor running and the heater on all night.
“We did nothing. We sat there frustrated. We listened to some music– 102.7 FM– and I dozed off a couple of times,” Elias said. “I had my car on the whole time. I wasn’t going green at that time.”
Well, good thing Elias wasn’t low on gas/battery power, right? If they were in a buddy comedy such as “Pineapple Express,” then surely they would have been forced to abandon their car for a snowmobile and hijinx would ensue.
Instead, they were forced to take place in a hard-skating practice just a few hours after they got home.
Hey, they’re hockey players though, right? A little snow probably didn’t stop them growing up, so why would it now?
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.
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:
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.
—Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta
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.