Mike Milbury

Mike Milbury’s Hat Trick: Bertuzzi’s elbow, Buffalo’s playoff hopes, return of Sidney Crosby

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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.

1. Todd Bertuzzi escaped punishment for his elbow to the head of Chicago’s Ryan Johnson. Do you think the league is being inconsistent in their handling of blows to the head?

No, I don’t think so. It’s tough being totally consistent when every hit is different. It was a reckless play that deserved to be called. It was just stupid technique and it merited a major and was properly punished, I guess. I guess they felt it wasn’t severe enough. He went in recklessly but not with any intent. That’s the way I view it.

Do you think Bertuzzi’s mid-game apology to Johnson played a part in helping him get off?

No, it shouldn’t. If I kill your wife and went in and apologized to you five minutes later, I still killed your wife.

2.  Some nights the Sabres look unbeatable, others they’re getting beaten by teams they shouldn’t lose to. How do you like the Sabres chances in the playoffs?

Well… I don’t think they’ve got a ton of offensive weapons, they’ve got a couple. They rely on their goaltender an awful lot. They’ve still got a chance to make it but I certainly don’t put them in the top echelon of the Eastern Conference. As we all know anybody that makes it has a chance to advance so you can’t rule them out.

Of all the teams you’re looking at, realistically, the one that would make you happy in terms of a draw right now would be Buffalo, Tampa second because they’ve muddled along for a while now. But… Be careful what you wish for.

3.  Sidney Crosby was cleared to skate on game days with the Penguins today. He’s not practicing yet, but do you see him taking the ice with the team in the playoffs?

I think they’ve got to be really careful with him. They should be really careful with him. He’s an incredibly valuable asset to the organization and to the league. I saw him practice a bit on tape, just one-on-one stuff and he looked good enough to buy a ticket to watch just practice. It was an impressive little display that he put on.

They’ve got to go through the whole rigmarole of easing him back in and being careful. I can’t play doctor, he certainly looked good enough to me during his little workout session but once contact comes along who knows. I think everyone is encouraged by his progress and hopeful but… If he’s not going to make it back it won’t be for a lack of trying.

PHT Morning Skate: Sharks name stray cat after captain Joe Pavelski

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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.

–The stray cat that ran onto the ice prior to Game 1 between the Sharks and Preds has been named after Joe Pavelski. (Associated Press)

–Speaking of that black cat, here’s a mountain of pucks shaped like the cat. (The Score)

–When Lukas Head was younger, he played with Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban. Here’s his story. (Toronto Star)

–Watch the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Stars and Blues. (Top)

–A look behind the scenes of the NHL draft lottery. (Canadian Press)

–Two-time Olympic gold medalist Sharon Szabados loves curing and the Oilers and she was forced to make a tough choice on Saturday. (Sportsnet)

Pascal Dupuis, who was named one of the Masterton Trophy finalists, is adjusting to retirement. (NHL.com)

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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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.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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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:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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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.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta