It makes sense that the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are squaring off on Super Bowl Sunday, because the two heated rivals are playing a game of inches right now. This is the hockey equivalent of a football game in which two teams grind out three yard rushes over and over again, waiting for the other side to give in.
The Penguins blinked first, as Brooks Laich scored a rebound goal to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.
Despite the fact that Pittsburgh trails going into the first intermission, the pace and style benefits Dan Bylsma’s star-starved Penguins, who must prefer the game’s current North-South attitude. The first period featured precious few second chances and moments of sustained pressure for either side, as both teams are moving the puck out of their zones with dizzying speed. That being said, the Capitals might be able to exploit some opportunities from the point, as they did on the game’s only goal.
While that mode of play lacks for creativity, the pace of the game has been impressive for an unusual afternoon start time.
The period ended tensely, as Mike Green was bloodied when a Brooks Orpik shot hit him in the ear or the side of the head. Green was able to leave the ice under his own power; we’ll let you know if he sustains a serious injury from that errant puck.
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Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.