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PHT Morning Skate: Where vandalism gets even dumber

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Vancouver Sun shares another jaw-dropping display of behavior from Canucks fans, as some clever artist decided to vandalize the church that Milan Lucic frequents. Yes, seriously. (Vancouver Sun)

Jeff Skinner was named the Triangle Sports Person of the Year in the Carolina region, edging out Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and golfer Webb Simpson. Not too shabby, kid. (Canes Now)

You can follow the link provided in the parenthesis to read about how Ben Eager is making the most of his ice time and all that, but the real reason to click it is to see the expression displayed on the faces of fans in the photo. (Edmonton Journal)

Brooks Laich and the Washington Post provide your daily dose of depressing Washington Capitals chatter. Seriously, it’s hard to believe how quickly – and dramatically – a team can swing from “hugely fun” to “totally depressing.” (Washington Post)

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun explains why Rick Nash won’t be a member of the Detroit Red Wings – at least if the Columbus Blue Jackets move him before the trade deadline. (ESPN)

Captain fight! Phoenix Coyotes’ leader Shane Doan takes on Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings. This is probably more exciting than the Coyotes’ 1-0 win, to be honest.

Claude Giroux assisted on five of the Philadelphia Flyers’ seven goals last night. That’s like, three Kings’ games worth of offense.

Now that the 21-game winning streak leaves the Detroit Red Wings alone in history, their opponents get a fun extra bit of motivation: who gets to end it? The Nashville Predators reflect on their chance to do just that. (Tennessean)

Word is that the Blackhawks are trying to bring an All-Star Game to Chicago. That sounds like fun, except for the whole “Windy City in late-January” aspect. Burr. (Chicago Tribune)

Max Pacioretty is exceeding all expectations for the Montreal Canadiens. (Montreal Gazette)

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.