BIll Daly, Henrik Sedin

To touch or not to touch: Should captains handle the conference title trophies?

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One of the more bizarre things you’ll see after each conference title is decided is how team captains handle the presentation of the conference championship trophy. Superstitions are things that many hockey players take very seriously. Like we saw during 24/7, Sidney Crosby goes through the same routine each game day before even getting his equipment on. Even his equipment isn’t absolved from superstition.

When it comes to touching either the Clarence Campbell Bowl or the Price of Wales Trophy though, some take it as serious business and even think there’s a correlation between touching it and going on to win the Stanley Cup. As we saw the other night, Canucks captain Henrik Sedin wanted nothing to do with touching the Campbell Bowl after the Canucks took care of the Sharks in five games. It’s a lonely life being a conference championship trophy sometimes.

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Whether your team’s captain touches it or not is up to them or the rest of the team whether or not they want to invite their idea of a jinx into the rest of their playoff lives but as Emily Kaplan from NHL.com discussed today, there’s really not a lot to the whole thing.

Since 2001, teams who have touched their conference trophy are 4-5 in the resulting Stanley Cup Final.

Basically, it’s a coin toss and ultimately up to the team’s to figure out if they want to leave their fate up to the bogeyman. Last year, Flyers captain Mike Richards put his hands all over it in front of the home fans in Philly and they went on to lose in six games to the no-touch Chicago Blackhawks with Jonathan Toews.

You don’t have to go far back to find previous trophy grabbers whose teams did go on to win the Stanley Cup as Sidney Crosby did so in 2009 when the Penguins disposed of Detroit in seven games. Of course, he didn’t touch it in 2008 and the Red Wings took out Pittsburgh in six games. In both of those years, Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom opted not to touch the Campbell Bowl.

It’d be far more fascinating if there were a correlation between touching the conference title and whether or not that helped you figure out who won the Cup, but unless Vincent Lecavalier or Zdeno Chara touch the Price of Wales Trophy tomorrow night in Boston, we won’t know if there’ll be a faceoff of the mystical kind against Vancouver in the Stanley Cup finals.

What makes this debate over whether or not to touch the trophy even sillier is the fact that teams will slap on the conference championship hat and celebrate on the ice together but they won’t touch the trophy. Fans don’t even want to buy the conference championship gear because if your team ends up losing in the finals you’re left with a $30 reminder of what ultimately was a failed season. I guess we just want a little consistency here is all.

Our hope for tomorrow night is that we’ll see the Eastern Conference champion grab the Prince of Wales Trophy and skate it around in spite of superstition. Not so much as a means of going over the top to celebrate the wrong title but just to spite people’s thoughts of jinxes.

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

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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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.