Brett Connolly

Lightning prospect Brett Connolly injured at Team Canada WJC camp

August is usually when things get quiet hockey-wise, but for the World Junior Championship teams, it’s their time to see what they’ve got talent-wise. Team Canada’s development camp is under way in Edmonton, and while the rosters aren’t set yet for the Canadians, they’re able to get a good look at what they’ve got for now.

The one thing you want to avoid in these situations is injuries, and Team Canada got a scare tonight as 2010 Tampa Bay Lightning first round pick Brett Connolly left the ice with what appeared to be a leg injury when he was tripped up from behind by 2011 Colorado Avalanche first round pick Duncan Siemens.

NHL.com’s Mike Morreale has the update from Edmonton on how Connolly is doing.

Team Canada head coach Don Hay doesn’t believe the “lower body” injury to be serious despite the fact he needed the assistance of two persons to exit the ice surface and reach the trainer’s room.

“I was talking to the doctor and we’ll re-evaluate (Friday), but right now it doesn’t look as bad as maybe first thought,” Hay said. “It may be a bad bruise. He’ll be able to recover to play over the weekend.”

It’s good that Connolly isn’t hurt as bad as was initially thought, and for the Lightning they’re even happier to hear that. While Connolly may not have been likely to challenge for a roster spot this year, hopes are very high for him to eventually be a big scoring contributor for them in the future.

Connolly was a key member of Team Canada’s WJC team last year in helping them to win the silver medal and being one of seven players from last year’s team at this summer’s development camp means he’s in line to earn a spot on the 2012 WJC team. Canada will be looking to get revenge against Russia after being upset in the gold medal game 5-3 back in January.

With the event being held in Edmonton and Calgary this time around, Team Canada’s home ice advantage in the tournament will be immense as will the pressure to win gold for the first time since 2009. Losing in the finals the last two years to the United States and Russia is leaving a bad taste in the mouth of Team Canada. Making sure their best players are in shape and healthy is key, and Connolly will be a big part of this year’s team. If Team Canada can get things figured out and keep the injuries away, they’ll enter the tournament once again as heavy favorites expected to take home the gold in January.

Just for Men: Sidney Crosby

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People love star athletes because they can do amazing things. Even so, people also often love to see the occasional moment of weakness.

Aside from the occasional injury hiccup, Sidney Crosby‘s been as advertised after being a super-hyped No. 1 overall pick. He has that “Golden Goal,” two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup ring and plenty of individual accolades.

… Yet he can’t really grow much of a beard.

Granted, his facial hair is thicker now that he’s “Sid the star nearing 30” rather than “Sid the Kid,” but no one will confuse him for Brent Burns and his living-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods beard.

For some, especially Crosby-haters, it’s fodder for mockery.

For the rest of us, it’s merely comforting to see that people like Crosby are human and actually have a few flaws.

Game 5 will be ‘the most important game of our lives,’ says Caps’ Beagle

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Not many people expected the Capitals-Penguins series to be over in five games, but there’s a chance that could happen before the end of the week. After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Capitals are one loss away from being bounced from the 2016 playoffs.

The Capitals failed to take advantage of the fact that Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 because of his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3. Letang is now set to return for Game 5 which makes Washington’s task even more difficult.

“We didn’t take advantage of it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per NHL.com. “One thing I said to the guys coming into this, and we talked it about it yesterday, was when Kris got his suspension, is that they’re going to rally. Their whole team, their forwards are going to come back. They talked about they didn’t play their best game (in Game 3) and now they have Letang out and everybody had to step up on their side, and I thought they did.”

If you look back at the regular season, the Capitals were head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and the league for a good portion of the season. Washington finished 11 points ahead of second place Dallas in the league standings and it looked like they had the team that would finally take them over the hump.

Although things look gloomy, it’s important to realize that the series is far from over. Many NHLers would tell you that the fourth win is always the hardest to come by in a best-of-seven series, and by no means is anyone expecting the Capitals to wave the white flag.

“Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed, but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, per NHL.com. “We’re looking forward. Our back’s against the wall and the most important game of our lives is coming up.”

Game 5 goes Saturday night in Washington.

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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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.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.