We’ve had so much talk of concussions here of late thanks to the issues Sidney Crosby is dealing with in trying to come back from his own that the other players who are struggling with their own problems get lost in the mix. We heard from Nathan Horton earlier about how he’s fully recovered from his and he’ll be ready to go in training camp. David Perron is yet to get back on the ice after suffering a concussion last November and who knows when or if we’ll hear from Marc Savard again.
Colorado’s Peter Mueller missed all of last season after picking up up a concussion in a preseason game against Los Angeles thanks to an errant stick to the head. That concussion coupled with the one he received late in the 2009-2010 season helped conspire to keep Mueller out of action. As Adrian Dater of The Denver Post writes today, Mueller has put all of that behind him and he’s ready to start anew this year.
“I’m excited to be a hockey player again,” Mueller said Wednesday in his first public comments since last September. “Obviously, I’ve had concussions in the past and it’s something I have to deal with, but right now everything is in the right direction. Everything is pointing forward. I’m excited that it’s all behind me.”
Mueller, a left winger whose good health could be a major key to how successful the Avs are this coming season, has been skating regularly and will undergo physicals with the rest of the team Sept. 16. Assuming he passes, he’ll be on the ice with no restrictions the next day, the first of training camp.
The Avs are going to need Mueller if they plan to keep up with everyone in the Western Conference somehow. The team made a dynamic switch in goal getting rid of both Brian Elliott and Peter Budaj and bringing in Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere. They also added Jan Hejda to paper-thin defense that will have to play above their heads to keep the team in games. Add that to a forward corps that boasts Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk, and potentially 2011 first round pick Gabriel Landeskog and there’s reason to be hopeful for a run at the playoffs in Denver. After being so miserable two out of the last three seasons, however, it doesn’t look too promising.
If Mueller can get back into the form he’s shown he’s capable of as a 20-goal, 50-point per season threat, marks he reached in his rookie season in Phoenix, the Avalanche at least don’t have to worry about keeping up offensively. Defensively, however, is another issue entirely. That’s not totally for Mueller to worry about though. Staying healthy and producing offensively are what’s on his plate for now, let’s just hope that he can avoid any further concussion problems. We’ve had enough of those to last for a long time.
What a start.
This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.
This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.
What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:
This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.
There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.
If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.
— Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.
— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.
— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.
— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.
— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.
Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.
You can see that incident below:
Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.
Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.
This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.
In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.
Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints
For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.
Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.
In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:
After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.
Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.
Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: