Predators defenseman Francois Bouillon suffers setback in concussion recovery

While concussions aren’t being talked about so much with the season being over and the new one not quite upon us yet, some players are still doing their part to bounce back from injury last year. One of those players is Predators defenseman Francis Bouillon. Bouillon suffered a concussion back in January against the Blackhawks thanks to a wicked hit from Troy Brouwer and missed the rest of the season with the ailment.

Bouillon has spent the better part of his summer working out to get back in shape and try to return to the Preds lineup in time for the start of this season. Those efforts may be delayed now as Bouillon says he’s suffered a setback in his recovery from the injury.

Bouillon told Richard Labbe of Cyberpresse in Quebec about how he’s had to slow down his recovery efforts (translated link) thanks to having headaches once again. Bouillon’s (poorly) translated quote from the site tells us that with it being so long since he was hurt, he’s concerned for not just next season but for his career as well.

“That’s the trouble with concussions, it’s more complicated than a knee injury, we never know when you will return. It’s been six months since I did not play. This is worrying, and I’m getting impatient. I do not want to talk about retirement, but of course I still think a little. At least the leaders of the Predators do not put me in pressure. They fully understand my situation. “

The Predators are good for not stressing that Bouillon hurry back from such a potentially debilitating injury. One thing the Predators do have on their team is depth along the blue line. With the likes of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter leading the way and having guys like Jonathon Blum, Kevin Klein, as well as a potential future star in Ryan Ellis they’ve got guys to fill out the roster. Not having Bouillon’s veteran leadership and physical play, however, will be tough to replace.

Bouillon joins a list of other players looking to get back next season, or at all, from concussions. Most famously there’s Sidney Crosby who continues to get himself back into form in Pittsburgh. Boston’s Marc Savard continues to lay low after suffering another concussion back in February and his future is very much in doubt. David Perron in St. Louis is still trying to fight his way back to the ice after a blindside hit from Joe Thornton ended his season.

Concussions may not be getting much press during the offseason, but their effects are certainly being felt with numerous teams today and Bouillon’s setback is a reminder of how hard and perilous it can be.

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.