Boston Bruins Victory Parade

Report indicates little progress between Brad Marchand, Bruins; Should Tyler Ennis be watching?

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The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reports that “only crickets are being heard” when it comes to Brad Marchand’s contract negotiations with the Boston Bruins.

While that might seem like a bad joke for Bruins fans, the fact of the matter is that the team has about $7.6 million in cap space to cover three roster spots (including – presumably – Marchand’s). In other words, it’ll probably just come down to a compromise on money, duration of the contract or some combination of those two factors. It’s hard to fathom a situation in which Marchand isn’t harassing opponents and occasionally filling up the opposition’s net in a Bruins uniform in 2011-12.

What might be the most interesting part of Shinzawa’s brief discussion of Marchand’s contract talks was the player who Shinzawa believes may be watching those negotiations most closely: Buffalo Sabres forward Tyler Ennis. Shinzawa thinks that Ennis could ask for a similar amount of money to what Marchand receives next summer – and Ennis might be able to tack on a “premium” price if he has a strong season in 11-12.

Ennis, the No. 26 pick of the 2008 draft, will be in Marchand’s position in one year: restricted with no arbitration rights. Through his first two pro seasons, Ennis has been a Marchand comparable. In 2009-10, Ennis, as a first-year pro, had three goals and six assists in 10 NHL games. Last year, Ennis punched in 20 goals and 29 assists for 49 points, 8 more than Marchand (21-20-41). If Ennis submits even better numbers this year, the undersized Buffalo forward could be looking at a premium on whatever Marchand scores from the Bruins.

source: Getty ImagesRe-signing Ennis might be a bit of a challenge for the Buffalo Sabres next summer, especially since he will be joined by restricted free agent defensemen Tyler Myers and Marc-Andre Gragnani. There is, however, a small problem with the Ennis-Marchand comparison: they make very different impacts on games on nights when they fail to score.

For one thing, Marchand brings an agitating role that rubs opponents the wrong way more often than it hurts his own team – at least last season. On the other hand, Ennis frustrates opponents with his craftiness, imagination and offensive skill.

Marchand also spent time on the Bruins’ penalty kill, while Ennis’ shorthanded time was negligible last season – another indication that Marchand’s influence extends beyond box scores.

Marchand: 1:20 shorthanded minutes out of 16:46 total minutes per game in the playoffs; 1:34 in 13:59 per game in regular season.

Ennis: one second of shorthanded time out of 16:38 total minutes per game in the playoffs; two seconds in 15:40 per game in regular season.

If Ennis’ agent is savvy, he’ll make the focus merely about points scored and argue that Ennis deserves just as much money – if not more – than anything Marchand will receive. Yet if the Sabres dig a little deeper, they can counter that Ennis played easier minutes than his supposed comparable.

Either way, I’d expect Marchand to be with the Bruins and Ennis to play for the Sabres for quite some time, unless something drastic happens in either case. It just seems like Ennis-Marchand is an apples-to-oranges comparison, unless points end up being your only barometer.

(H/T to The Sporting News.)

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

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.