Detroit Red Wings v Phoenix Coyotes - Game Four

Could Shane Doan be a trade deadline target if the Coyotes falter?

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The Phoenix Coyotes have had a lot of ups and downs over the last decade or so, whether it’s been on the ice (missing the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons before Dave Tippett took over) or with their well-publicized ownership issues.The one constant has been power forward Shane Doan, often a standout player who’s been a member of the franchise since their last season in Winnipeg and has ranked as one of the league’s most respected leaders since he became their captain in 2003-04. It’s likely that he’ll cross the 300 goal mark with the only team he’s ever played for next season.

All of that sentimentality aside, the sad reality of sports is that even the best relationships must come to an end at some point. There’s no denying the loyalty of the 34-year-old Canadian winger, but with the franchise’s future in Arizona in doubt and Doan’s own contract ready to expire after the 2011-12 season, it’s reasonable to wonder if he might be a popular trade target if the Coyotes struggle without Ilya Bryzgalov in net.

That’s the idea that ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers brought up in a mailbag a few days ago and Lyle Richardson elaborated upon tonight. Before I get into my own thoughts on a possible Doan trade, here’s what Spector had to say about the concept.

Doan might be available if the Coyotes are out of playoff contention by the trade deadline, but it’s not a certainty.

A recent report in USA Today noted Coyotes GM Don Maloney wanted to meet with Doan prior to training camp to discuss a new contract.

(snip)

Doan has been very loyal to the Coyotes franchise dating back to his time in Winnipeg, so it shouldn’t be assumed he’s keen to test next summer’s UFA market.

Still, if Doan decides to wait until the end of the season to talk contract, or it appears the Coyotes are headed to another city following the season and they fall out of playoff contention by February, rumors of a deadline trade to a Cup contender – such as the Blackhawks – will run rampant.

Again, Doan has been very loyal to the Coyotes and could very well sign a contract extension before the trade deadline comes around. Still, let’s take a quick look at which teams might want to keep Doan on their radars.

Note: Doan registers a $4.5 million salary cap hit, but that amount would be greatly reduced around trade deadline time. Still, cap space will be given at least some consideration in this discussion.

source: Getty ImagesChicago (current cap space: $3.04 million): Rogers mentions Doan as a good fit for the Blackhawks, which makes sense since his rugged play and experience would be worthwhile if Chicago finds themselves in another grudge match against the Vancouver Canucks. That being said, they probably need a pure No. 2 center more than anything else.

Vancouver ($2.53M): Speaking of the Canucks, they could really use a top-six forward and Doan would make an already agitating team that much tougher to play against. How many teams would want to deal with Doan, Ryan Kesler, Maxim Lapierre and Alexandre Burrows in a best of seven series?

Detroit ($5.85M): Red Wings fans learned to hate Doan in their last two first round series, but if Detroit wanted to go all-in during what could be Nicklas Lidstrom’s final season, Doan would give them a physical presence – not to mention a right-handed shot.

Boston ($7.62M): The Bruins have a pretty deep set of forwards, but they also have a ton of cap space and might want a little more scoring variety with hot-and-cold winger Michael Ryder out of the picture. Doan would make the Bruins bigger and badder by bolstering a beefy group that already includes Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.

Los Angeles ($9.34M): Obviously, the Kings won’t have nearly the same amount of cap space after they sign Drew Doughty, but they still should have some money left over during deadline time. Doan seems like an ideal fit for the way Los Angeles does business, although the Coyotes would cringe at the idea of trading their hero to a divisional foe.

Nashville ($15.88M): His full season price tag might be a bit much for the Predators, but adding an impact forward like Doan at the trade deadline might show Nashville’s Big 3 that they’re serious about contending.

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Honestly, the previous list is just a small sampling of the teams who should keep an eye on Doan. In an ideal world, he’ll stick with the Coyotes until he hangs up his skates, but you cannot blame fans of other teams for imagining how he’d fit in as a rental player.

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.

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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.