Red Wings Standing

Fab Five: 5 key contributors to Detroit’s record-setting run

Tonight, the Red Wings will host the Stars at Joe Louis for a shot a history — a win would be Detroit’s 21st in a row at home, setting the all-time NHL single-season mark set 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers.

So, how did the Wings get to this point?

It’s been a balanced, total team effort — head coach Mike Babcock called the Wings “one of the most consistent teams I’ve ever coached” — yet there have been some outstanding individual efforts worth profiling.

Pavel Datsyuk: He’s scored 25 points during the winning streak and has at least one point in 15 of the 20 wins. Datsyuk also drew high praise from Flyers forward Scott Hartnell, who lost 4-3 at the Joe on Sunday.

“They’re a puck-control team and it seems like Datsyuk can hold onto it for five minutes straight, just like [Jaromir] Jagr can. He gets in the corners, passes out there and no matter how good your stick is you can’t get the puck. He’s got great vision where he can find players in the slot, or back door.”

Valtteri Filppula: On pace for a career year, the 27-year-old Finn is second on the team in home goals (nine) and has been a point-a-game guy (26 in 26) at Joe Louis this season.

But the one guy that’s really appreciative of Filppula’s emergence isn’t even a Red Wing — it’s fellow countryman and Anaheim Ducks winger Teemu Selanne.

“I always knew he has all the tools,” Selanne told MLive.com. “He really has no weaknesses. He can skate so well. He’s strong, he can see the game, he can pass.

“I’ve been waiting for a long time because this guy has everything you need to be at the superstar level.”

Todd Bertuzzi: Bertuzzi was placed on a line with Datsyuk and Johan Franzen back in late November…which just so happened to coincide with the start of Detroit’s streak. Bertuzzi had a minus-1 rating through his first 11 games but has been a plus-22 since joining Datsyuk and Franzen, and Big Bert’s inspired play has pleased his head coach.

“I think he’s been real strong on pucks and a real good net presence for those guys and good defensively and energized and playing well,” Babcock said. “It’s given us a real good line there.”

Jimmy Howard: Sadly, he won’t be in goal to set the NHL record — he’s out with a broken finger — but Howard was the goalie of record for the first 17 wins of the streak. That run included shutouts over Edmonton, St. Louis and Buffalo and one-goal efforts against Nashville, Winnipeg and St. Louis. The 27-year-old also made his first All-Star appearance this season and leads the NHL in wins, with 32.

Nicklas Lidstrom: One of the great moments of this streak wasn’t about wins — it was watching team captain Nicklas Lidstrom move past franchise legend Alex Delvecchio for games played (1,550). Only Gordie Howe has appeared in more contests wearing the winged wheel, but soon Lidstrom will hold that record as well.

Regular season and playoffs combined, Howe has appeared in 1,841 games for the Red Wings while Lidstrom is next at 1,808 — meaning that, barring an unforeseen circumstance, No. 5 will break Mr. Hockey’s record this postseason.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) deflects a puck over the net during the first period of Game 3 against the Washington Capitals in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals in Pittsburgh, Monday, May 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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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.

Fleury suits up (but won’t start) and other Caps – Pens Game 3 notes

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been out of action with concussion symptoms, participates in a practice session for the NHL hockey playoffs against the New York Rangers, Monday, April 11, 2016, at their practice facility in Cranberry, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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The Brooks Orpik hit on Olli Maatta isn’t the only factor in lineup changes for Game 3 between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Maybe the most interesting change starts on the Penguins’ bench … where they likely hope that tweak will stay for at least one night.

Marc-Andre Fleury is apparently healthy enough to suit up for the Penguins, although it appears as though Matt Murray will start:

That’s a clear sign that “The Flower” is healthy enough to play, as Murray would be an injury or a coach’s pull away from giving up the net to Fleury. (One would assume.)

Murray has been fantastic for the most part since taking over for Jeff Zatkoff during this postseason, yet you know how the playoffs can be; people may clamor for Fleury after a loss even if it’s not really Murray’s fault.

Circling back to that Orpik hit, the dominoes seem to fall this way:

Penguins: Derrick Pouliot replaces injured Maatta.

Capitals: Dmitry Orlov in for suspended Orpik.

PHT will make note if there are any swerves.