Jeff Carter

Jeff Carter not asking for a trade has become quite the story

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Yesterday, we posted rumblings that Blue Jackets center Jeff Carter had asked to be shipped out of Columbus. Those rumblings included a report from RDS — a report that was quickly refuted by Carter’s agent, Rick Curran.

So end of story, right?

Not so fast.

Today, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reported that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson met with Carter in Nashville to discuss the RDS report. “Howson declined to detail the meeting,” Portzline tweeted. “Except to say that he and Carter are on the same page, that there has been no trade request.”

So end of story, right?

Well…

A GM meeting his player over what amounts to an Internet trade rumor is odd. It’s also odd that said GM would inform reporters of said meeting, mostly because of the “where’s there’s smoke there’s fire” adage.

It also didn’t help when TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted the following:

“For those asking about reports of Jeff Carter requesting trade out of CBJ, here’s my understanding: There has been no formal request BUT Carter was devastated/miserable at being traded out of PHI and I don’t imagine CBJ’s poor start and his injury have improved mindset.”

Here’s the thing with this situation (and similar rumblings about Rick Nash) — the rumors aren’t really about the players.

They’re about Howson and club president Mike Priest.

These rumors are direct shots across the bows of two men that have been stunningly inactive as their team continues to flounder. When you’re as bad (and inactive) as Columbus is, you give people lots of time to sit around and pick things apart.

One wonders what’s going on inside their heads. Howson deemed the current situation dire enough to post an emotional plea on the BJ’s website, yet not dire enough to make more significant acquisitions than Nikita Nikitin and Mark Letestu.

As for Priest, he’s shown a crazy amount of loyalty to the architect of a flawed roster. (NB: Prior to becoming team president, Priest was the CFO of JMAC Inc. — the company of BJ’s owner John P. McConnell. Not exactly a hockey background.)

Adding fuel to the fire is that St. Louis, one of Columbus’ Central Division rivals, fired head coach Davis Payne and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock. The Blues were in far less dire straits than the Jackets at the time, yet made the bold move and reaped immediate rewards.

Until Columbus does something noteworthy to fix the team, expect to keep hearing trade rumors around guys like Carter and Nash.

Even if they didn’t really ask out.

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.

***

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.