Eric Staal feels horrible about brother Marc’s struggle with concussion recovery

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When Rangers defenseman Marc Staal went down last year with what was initially deemed to be just a knee injury, it was his brother Eric Staal from the Carolina Hurricanes that put him out of action. As it turns out, an injured knee wasn’t the only problem for Marc as he also suffered a concussion in the hit.

Fast forward to this season’s training camp and Marc is still having issues with post-concussion symptoms and the Rangers are proceeding very carefully with him so he doesn’t see his condition worsen. Staal is being kept out of physical practice situations as well as the team’s first three preseason games before heading to Europe to start the season. Staal’s symptoms are affecting him enough so that the coaches sent him home on Monday after not even skating with the team.

Eric Staal is feeling awful about what his brother is going through in trying to prepare for the season. Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer gets the word from the Hurricanes captain about how he hopes his brother can get well soon.

“There were times he was making progress and doing well, then had some setbacks,” Eric Staal said. “He took some time off, then tried to amp it up again and it was difficult for him. He dealt with it most of the summer.

“I think right now they’re just being real cautious with where he’s at and make sure he’s 100 percent healthy. Hopefully he can keep progressing in the right direction and he can get back going, because he’s one of their best players and he wants to be out there with their team.

“It (stinks). It’s not fun for him or fun for me.”

The story about how the Staal brothers have been close their entire life and how three out of four of the brothers are in the NHL is one we’re all familiar with. Seeing a situation like this that develops because of how hard they play, even against each others, is sad to see come up. Getting to see both Marc and Eric at the All-Star Game in Raleigh last season made for a real treat, especially playing together on the same team.

Seeing the brothers deal with an issue like this that links them together, however, is one that’s rough to see play out. Both players are important to their teams and Marc’s All-Star season last year was a sign to the rest of the league that he had arrived as a force in New York. Marc’s recovery for the Rangers is vital to their success.

The Rangers’ depth on defense isn’t exactly stellar and having to get someone to fill the minutes that Marc plays is going to be rough. Staal’s skills and all-around game make him one of their best players. Thankfully, the Rangers are making the right moves now to make sure he’s fully healthy before getting him back into the mix heavily.

As for Eric, you have to hope his mind is in the right place out on the ice while his brother is recovering. Being responsible for injuring your own brother has to be tough to handle psychologically. The Hurricanes need their captain to be at the top of their game if they’re going to challenge for the playoffs. Even being off for a few games could make the difference between making the postseason and packing it in early.

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.