Hat Trick with Mike Milbury – Gleason’s KO is OK

Each week here at ProHockeyTalk, NHL on NBC’s Mike Milbury gives us his take on three hot topics of discussion around the league. We’re happy to have Mike join us and give us his unique and fiery opinions on what’s going on in the NHL.

Some Leafs players were upset by Carolina’s Tim Gleason squaring off with non-fighter Nikolai Kulemin. What’s your take on that fight?

I thought Kulemin pushed Gleason and Gleason pushed him back. There’s no sign anywhere that says you can’t fight a European. You know, he pushed him several times and I don’t blame him at all for fighting him.  I thought it was a well deserved slap in the head. If you don’t want to fight then do what the animals square off in the forest: Avert your eyes, don’t look at him. You put yourself in that position you deserve to get whacked.

I will say this though. Ron Wilson says he put himself in the position to get whacked and he got whacked. Why would he say that? That’s how I feel and I think he’s right, but I’m tired of hearing him throw his own guys under the bus. He does that way too often for my liking. He can be a terrific coach but it looks like he’s had his fill of it. It’s disappointing when you see a guy do that to the player.

Marc Savard is out with yet another concussion.  Should this be it for his career or is he going to have to be really careful next time around?

I think everybody should be really careful any time around with concussions. It’s not just because of the original problem and now this is a follow up to that. Maybe it’s a separate incident this time, but nobody knows. I think they’re going to give him plenty of time and he’s gone home early to hang out and I’m glad they’ve done that.

He can get out of the view of everyone and not sit around and answer questions like “How you feeling, how you doing” and nobody’s going to mess with him once he’s home. It’s just a matter of time and evaluation and some people here have suggested they shut him down for the year but I’m not going to play doctor and pretend to get inside Marc Savard’s head.

Closing it out with a light question: Wayne Gretzky turned 50 and aside from that making us feel a bit older, is Gretzky the greatest player of all time?

Wow jeez, it’s his birthday. You don’t want me to give him an un-present. He’s amongst the top four or five greatest players ever. You can make a case, obviously, with statistics he’s the greatest player ever. Those things differ generation to generation but there isn’t any question that he’s one of the greatest players and the greatest business assets the NHL’s ever had.

I think it’s a shame it ended so badly in Phoenix for him and the league. I think that fence needs to be mended. If I gave him a birthday present it’d be to give him a position in the league or with an organization that reflects the status and respect that he has so richly earned.

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.