Dustin Byfuglien Getty

Who were the biggest All-Star surprises?

12 Comments

The 2012 NHL All-Star game rosters have been announced, so now it’s time for the fun part — picking them apart! Here’s a look at some of the biggest surprises headed to Ottawa.

Goalies

Brian Elliott is an intriguing choice. He’s only started 20 games and his partner in the St. Louis goaltending timeshare, Jaroslav Halak, has solid numbers himself (2.19 GAA, two shutouts). Mind you, it’d be hard to dismiss Elliott given he’s second in the NHL in GAA (1.62), save percentage (.940) and shutouts (five).

Another eyebrow-raiser: Carey Price. No question he’s been a workhorse in Montreal, but he’s also 20th in GAA, 24th in save percentage and has as many wins as losses.

Defensemen

Dustin Byfuglien was brutal for the first month of the season, and now he’s hurt. The 24 points in 35 games are nice, but he’s still minus-8 and not that far removed from being called a disappointment.

I get the Dan Girardi selection and am glad he was recognized…but it’s a little like when Ben Wallace went to the NBA All-Star Game (and he went four times). It’s the square-peg-round-hole dynamic: Two guys that like being physical and blocking shots, stuck in a game where nobody cares about defense.

(Also, you could argue Michael Del Zotto should be the Rangers defenseman going to Ottawa.)

Forwards

Mikko Koivu is a surprise. He’s 51st among all forwards in scoring — anytime you’re looking up the points leaderboard at Curtis Glencross, P.A. Parenteau and Adam Henrique, you’re probably not expecting an ASG nod.

Not sure I agree with the Patrick Kane selection — he’s Chicago’s fourth-leading scorer and on pace for a career-low in goals. Makes a mean burrito, though.

It’s probably a PR nightmare to leave Alex Ovechkin off the All-Star roster (for the first time in his career), but I don’t see how he’s more deserving than his Washington teammate, Nicklas Backstrom. Mike Knuble said Backstrom’s been the most consistent player on an inconsistent team. Backstrom also leads the Caps in scoring and 15th in the league in points.

Speaking of teammates making it over more deserving teammates: I didn’t like Corey Perry over Teemu Selanne or Kane over Patrick Sharp.

Rookies

Justin Faulk wins this year’s Representing Awful Team With Token Rookie Game Appearance award (last year it went to Florida’s Evgeny Dadonov.) No way he should be there ahead of Marc-Andre Gragnani or Jared Cowen.

Feel free to add your own All-Star Game surprises in the comments section.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

14 Comments

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

20 Comments

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

22 Comments

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

99 Comments

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.