Suter and Weber

Predators hope busy deadline wins over Suter, Weber

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When “Moneyball” hit theaters and somehow translated a great but niche book into a big-time money maker, it was hard for hockey people to avoid comparing the Nashville Predators to the Oakland A’s of those days.

The crux of Billy Beane’s radical re-thinking of that franchise revolved around finding a new way to do business after the loss of stars like Jason Giambi, but Predators GM David Poile is taking a different approach. Instead of accepting life as a smaller market hockey team that needs to scrap year after year, the humble old Predators are pushing all their chips to the middle of the table this time around.

Poile doesn’t want to see his slugger Shea Weber or fellow defensive stud Ryan Suter go, so the Predators tried to “court” the duo with a bevy of moves. Poile wasn’t trying to play coy about his motives, either, as you can see in this NHL.com article.

“Obviously, we hope the moves today show Ryan and all of the players on our team that the ownership is committed,” Poile said. “We’ve had plenty of talks with Ryan and it’s been unfortunate that our — I think we’ve done a good job here in Nashville of building our team and the franchise and you can see the building’s getting more full on a regular basis, but unfortunately, from a budgetary situation we’ve had to let some of our better players go from time to time.

“Hopefully, we can stop that. Obviously, signing Ryan Suter would be a huge sign for our whole franchise and our fans … that those days are over and, hopefully, a good playoff run will get Ryan signed up.”

No doubt about it, this isn’t the measured approach usually displayed by Poile. Sure, they’ve gone bold before with the ill-fated Peter Forsberg trade, but that was still a rental. Everything about this run feels different; the big contract for Pekka Rinne, a heavy cost for Paul Gaustad and other stakes-raising moves show that the Predators aren’t going to sit idly by.

Of course, the flip side is that if Suter leaves anyway, Poile & Co. must clean up that mess with a deficit in picks and some prospects. Honestly, I’m not so sure that breaking from the franchise’s script is the best idea, but it’s hard to blame Poile for his urge to pause the cycle of growth and loss.

What do you think, then? Are these gambles worth it or will these acts of desperation come back to haunt them?

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.

***

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.