Messier, Primeau put their weight behind helmet innovations

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This post is part of a series looking at the issue and impact of concussions in the NHL. ProHockeyTalk and Comcast SportsNet are featuring pieces today as a lead-in to tonight’s special edition of NHL Live on Versus (6:30 p.m. EST.)

Billy Daly and other NHL executives aren’t wrong when they say that concussions are probably an inevitable part of the current game. That being said, there’s certainly room for improvement when it comes to identifying and preventing concussions. Improving mouthguards and softening equipment such as shoulder pads could help, but here’s a quick look at some of the most intriguing innovations in hockey helmets.

“The Messier Project”

Mark Messier was one of the fiercest leaders in NHL history, but one of his post-career focuses is promoting a line of “concussion-reducing” helmets. You can see an older (and admittedly goofy-looking) version of the design in this post’s main image, but Messier told The New York Times that there are some more “traditional” looking options. (Then again, let’s hope that players care more about their health than how cool their helmets look …)

The showstopper is the foam on the inside, which out-performs the standard stuff that adorns current helmets, at least according to Cascade Sports’ research.

source:  (Image via Cascade Sports’ gallery.)

Does the foam/helmet design really make a difference? Such a claim might need some more research, but hopefully an independent party is either looking into it or will study these innovations. Football helmets have seen similar re-designs that sacrifice a little in aesthetics for a jump in protection, so it would be great to see hockey follow suit.

Keith Primeau’s helmet lights

While Messier’s line focuses on diffuses the impact of a concussive blow, the other two noteworthy helmets gravitate toward identification. The Canadian Press caught up with Keith Primeau, who is promoting “Impact Indicators.” The process is simple: if a potential concussion occurs, a light will go from green to red.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I can just imagine the “Rudolph the Concussed Reindeer” jokes now, which is unfortunate because the idea sounds promising if the technology is sound.

A bomb expert’s take

An Ottawa entrepreneur/former bomb disposal officer named Danny Crossman is throwing his name in the hat with Impakt Protective’s “Shockbox,” which has similar aims* as the “Impact Indicator.” The device is capable of measuring the impact of a hit and then immediately sending the data to a smartphone, according to Andrew Duffy of Postmedia News.

***

Obviously there’s a commercial aspect to their endeavors, but it’s still fantastic to see Messier and Primeau putting their name recognition behind a key aspect of concussion prevention: improving equipment. Messier probably said it best to The New York Times.

“Generally in our sport we’ve spent all of our money on technology for improving sticks and skates,” Messier said. “Unfortunately none of the money has been spent on headgear, which is probably our most important equipment.”

* – Yes, I’m also a little disappointed that a bomb expert isn’t coming up with some crazy Kevlar-plated helmet, too.

Holtby ‘wasn’t as sharp as he can be,’ says Trotz

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Presidents’ Trophy winners once again in the regular season, the Capitals once again face an uphill climb if they are to advance beyond the rival Penguins and the second round of the playoffs.

What began with a strong first period for the Capitals in Game 2, albeit without a reward on the score board, faded into a frustrating 6-2 rout, as the Penguins took a commanding 2-0 series lead as it shifts back to Pittsburgh for a pivotal Game 3 on Monday.

Braden Holtby was pulled after the second period. He gave up three goals on 14 shots, while his opponent at the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant with 34 saves.

“He’ll tell you that he can be better. He’s a straight up guy and he will be. I was just trying to change the mojo,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz of his decision to sit Holtby.

“I thought some of the goals, he wasn’t as sharp as he can be for us. He’s a game-changer for us. So when he didn’t change the game, I just looked to change the mojo a little bit there. That’s all. Braden’s our backbone. He has been all year. We’ve got to find some goals for him, too. We can’t just put it on Braden Holtby.”

Now in a deep but not insurmountable hole against the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Capitals reportedly held a players’ only meeting following this latest defeat.

After failing to open the scoring in an otherwise dominant first period, Washington surrendered three goals in the second, as the Penguins broke it wide open with their transition game, led by two great plays from Sidney Crosby.

“We can’t get frustrated. I think that would be our biggest mistake is to get frustrated right now,” said T.J. Oshie, before expanding on the meeting between the players.

“It was things that people need to say and things that some people need to hear. We were very together with what we said. I don’t need to go into details. Sometimes in our game … you need to hear from your teammates more than your coach. And tonight was one of those nights.

“It was the players in here and what was said is what needed to be said.”

We’ll find out Monday if what was said actually has any impact on the ice.

Penguins rout Capitals to take commanding series lead

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The Washington Capitals are in trouble. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Again.

Despite a dominant first period, at least in terms of shots on Marc-Andre Fleury and puck possession, the Capitals saw this game go sideways in a hurry during the second period, on the way to a 6-2 loss to the Penguins in Game 2.

Washington is now in quite a hole, trailing its nemesis 2-0 in this second-round series.

Last year, Matt Murray stymied the Capitals. Though it’s only been two games this year, Fleury has stepped up in the absence of the injured Murray and given the Penguins solid goaltending and frustrated a dangerous Capitals lineup.

After withstanding the storm of pressure from the Capitals in the first period, the Penguins broke this game open with a trio of second-period goals. It started with a shorthanded goal from Matt Cullen, and later continued with a beautiful goal from Phil Kessel and then Jake Guentzel‘s sixth goal of these playoffs.

That led Barry Trotz to take Braden Holtby out of the game, after he gave up three goals on 14 shots, putting in Phillip Grubauer to begin the third period. The Penguins continued the onslaught.

For the Penguins, there are some injury concerns to keep an eye on.

Patric Hornqvist left the game in the first period after blocking a shot around his foot or ankle. He didn’t return. Ron Hainsey had to go to the locker room late in the third period after taking an Alex Ovechkin shot up around the head.

Game 3 goes Monday in Pittsburgh.

‘I wasn’t good enough,’ says Lundqvist after double OT loss to Senators

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The task wasn’t impossible, but certainly daunting.

The Ottawa Senators needed five goals on Henrik Lundqvist just to send Game 2 into overtime.

The Rangers goalie had been spectacular for most of this post-season entering Saturday’s contest, but the Senators, led by a sensational four-goal performance from Jean-Gabriel Pageau, found a way to break through for a 6-5 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead against New York.

They did so on just 34 shots through almost 83 minutes against Lundqvist.

“I wasn’t good enough,” said Lundqvist, per the New York Daily News. “Coming up with the extra save there in the end, that’s my job. Even though it’s tough plays on deflections, I’ve got to find a way.”

On three occasions, the Rangers held a two-goal lead. That includes with under five minutes remaining in regulation. They even had a pair of shorthanded goals. But they couldn’t hang on, as Pageau scored twice in the final 3:19 of regulation to record his hat trick.

That set the stage for the eventual winner, as he beat Lundqvist over the left shoulder with a shot from his off-wing on a two-on-one rush.

With the Senators in control, the series returns to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday.

“We played well enough to win this game, there’s no question about it,” said Lundqvist. “It’s really tough to lose this one. Clearly they’ve gotten the bounces here in the first two games.”

Capitals’ Holtby begins third period on the bench, Grubauer takes over in net

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Braden Holtby began the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 on the bench, giving way to Philipp Grubauer.

The Washington Capitals fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 after two periods, with Holtby allowing three goals on just 14 shots. It will be interesting to hear the reason for this decision from coach Barry Trotz following the game.

The Capitals had dominated on the shot clock, but gave up a pair of quick goals to fall further behind Pittsburgh in this game, while trailing in the series 1-0.

Phil Kessel — on a great play from Sidney Crosby — and Jake Guentzel scored 3:10 apart to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.