Darcy Hordichuk, Shawn Thornton

Boston Bruins have the edge in all-time matchup with the Vancouver Canucks

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The Vancouver Canucks haven’t won a single Stanley Cup since they entered the NHL in the 1970, right around the time the Boston Bruins were a dominant force thanks to Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito & Co. The Canucks began their franchise in the Eastern Division with the Bruins, which planted the seeds for Boston’s early (and overall) dominance between the two teams.

NHL.com’s John Kreiser put together an interesting take on the Bruins and Canucks’ all-time records against each other, although it’s important to note that the teams obviously don’t play against each other often these days.

  • In 108 contests, Boston is 68-24-15-1 against the Canucks while Vancouver is 25-66-15-2 against the Bruins. Kreiser notes that 25 wins is the lowest amount of victories the Canucks franchise has against any team they’ve played at least 100 games against.
  • Again, their rivalry was especially one-sided in the beginning, when the Canucks were scrambling to build their teams while the Bruins were in the middle of their “Big, Bad” era. Boston went a ridiculous 20-2-1 in their first 23 contests.
  • Perhaps the Canucks aren’t big chowder fans? The Canucks managed a desolate 8-38-7-1 mark in road games in Boston, although they’ve only played in Massachusetts twice since 2003 (winning a shootout in their most recent appearance on February 6, 2010).
  • The Bruins are considerably more comfortable visiting scenic Vancouver. Boston is 29-17-8 when visiting the Canucks, including wins in four of their last five road games in Vancouver. Kreiser also points out that they’ve never been shut out by the Canucks in Vancouver. The Bruins have five out of the six shutouts in the all-time rivalry overall.

Of course, if you’ve followed hockey for a while, you know that even results from the most recent regular season only matter so much once the playoffs begin. In other words, these numbers are for your entertainment more than anything else.. Both teams have overcome some first round hurdles on their way to the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins beat their long-time tormentors (the Montreal Canadiens) while the Canucks finally overcame their recent headaches (the Chicago Blackhawks). Turning the page on past frustrations is a big part of getting this far, let alone hoisting the Cup.

Kreiser also points out some bigger picture factors that probably are a stronger indicator of Vancouver’s chances than their historical record against the Bruins.

Those aren’t good numbers for the Canucks – but here’s a couple that are in their favor. They are the first team since the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens to lead the League in both goals scored and goals against, and those Canadiens won the Cup. The Canucks also won the Presidents’ Trophy – and the last four Presidents’ Trophy winners to make the Final have gone on to win the Cup.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.