Cam Atkinson

Ottawa not the only team going young, Blue Jackets bringing youth up to start as well

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While the Ottawa Senators are starting their season with a host of young players, they’ll be happy to know they won’t be the only ones to do that this year.

The Columbus Blue Jackets will be starting their season getting a look at four young players as well after the team went through their last round of cuts. Among those joining the team are 2009 first round pick forward Ryan Johansen, former Boston College standout Cam Atkinson, Russian speedster Maksim Mayorov and training camp surprise David Savard.

The two most exciting guys in this bunch are Johansen and Atkinson. For Johansen, he’ll get nine games to prove that he can stick on Columbus’ roster or else he’s heading back to the WHL in juniors. Atkinson is getting a shot to prove he can cut it in the NHL and avoid being fished out back to the AHL in Springfield.

Johansen and Atkinson have the offensive abilities to help the Blue Jackets become a better scoring team, the key for them is getting the minutes and opportunities to do so. With Kristian Huselius starting the year on IR and the Jackets having limited resources for guys that can score, Johansen and Atkinson could just be the guys making their hopes for the postseason coming true.

Another injury is helping keep spots open at forward for the likes of Mayorov as Jared Boll will start the year on IR with a broken thumb. Boll will be out 4-6 weeks with the injury and while Boll provides toughness, injecting more speed and offense to the lineup is a good thing for Columbus.

As for David Savard, the Blue Jackets being a bit thin on the blue line (thinner with James Wisniewski missing the first eight games with a suspension) giving him a shot to stick around is a shot worth taking for both GM Scott Howson and coach Scott Arniel. While guys like Fedor Tyutin, Marc Methot, Kris Russell, Grant Clitsome, and Radek Martinek are likely there to stay Savard and Aaron Johnson will battle it out to see who can stay in the NHL. They’ll get eight games to do just that.

Much like in Ottawa, these moves aren’t permanent invites to stay in the NHL and it’s up to those players to prove they belong and can be productive NHL players. Guys like Atkinson and Johansen are likely going to get every opportunity to do just that. If the goals come in bunches, they’ll be there to stay as the Blue Jackets try to get back to the playoffs.

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.