Dougie Hamilton

Five Canadians to watch at the World Juniors

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Team Canada announced its 22-man roster for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship today. Here are five players to watch, starting Dec. 26 when Canada plays Finland in Edmonton.

Dougie Hamilton (D) – Also known as the guy the Bruins drafted with the second of the two first-round picks the Leafs sent to Boston for Phil Kessel. Hamilton’s been tearing up the OHL with the Niagara Ice Dogs – the 6-foot-4, 193-pound defenseman has 45 points in 30 games.

Ryan Murray (D) – One of two undrafted players to make the cut (the other being forward Tanner Pearson), Murray is the No. 4 prospect in the 2012 draft, according to International Scouting Services. Due to a high-ankle sprain, the 18-year-old has only played 11 games this season for the WHL’s Everett Silvertips.

Jaden Schwartz (F) – The only NCAA player on the team, Schwartz (Colorado College) was drafted 14th overall by St. Louis in 2010. One of four returning members to the squad, the 19-year-old will hope to have a better experience than last year when he fractured his ankle in the second game of the tournament. It’s sure to be an emotional time for Schwartz. His sister, Mandi, a former Yale hockey player, passed away from cancer in April. “She’s on my mind every day,” he said Saturday. “You can’t stop thinking about her. She was there for me so much. She inspires me every day still. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about here. Everything I do is for her.”

Brendan Gallagher (F) – Though small in stature, Gallagher managed to turn a lot of heads at Montreal’s training camp. The Habs drafted the Vancouver Giants (WHL) winger with the 147th overall pick in 2010. “He’s not a big player but has a big heart,” Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. “He goes to the net, he’s not afraid and has good hands.” Of note, Gallagher’s junior coach, Don Hay, is also Team Canada’s coach.

Jonathan Huberdeau (F) – Taken third overall in June by the Florida Panthers, Huberdeau (Saint John, QMJHL) is still recovering from a broken foot that he suffered in early November. Obviously management is optimistic he’ll be able to play or they wouldn’t have kept him. Huberdeau had 28 points in 13 games for the Sea Dogs before getting injured.

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.