Joni Pitkanen

PHT Morning Skate: The science of booing

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.

Dan Girardi is the New York Rangers’ 2012 nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy. Hey, it takes a lot of perseverance to block all those shots, right? (NHL.com)

Did Martin Havlat flip Los Angeles Kings fans the bird? CSN Bay Area gets to the bottom of it. (CSNBayArea.com)

Behind the Net seemingly has a scientific study of everything hockey-related? Want proof? Check out this breakdown of the impact of fan chants in Winnipeg Jets games. (Behind the Net)

Want a nice collection of news and views on Alexander Radulov’s pending return to the Nashville Predators? Check out this post by Dirk Hoag of On the Forecheck. (On the Forecheck)

Mike Green continues to put on a brave face, arguing that he’s fine physically – he’s just trying to adjust to Dale Hunter’s new way of operating in Washington. (CSNWashington.com)

Ryan O’Reilly has a broken nose, but won’t wear a face shield. Is that smart or reckless? That’s your call, but add another entry to “hockey players are tough.” (The Denver Post)

Rich Peverley took a surprising amount of contact in Boston Bruins practice on Wednesday. Considering there have been some tough times for the B’s, getting the versatile forward back would be a nice boost. (CSNNE.com)

Rich Hammond looks back at the Kings’ decision to roll the dice with Willie Mitchell with a two-year contract in 2010, as he was dealing with some serious concussion problems. (Kings Insider)

Michael Russo takes a look at Mikko Koivu’s return to the Minnesota Wild lineup and the end of Michael Lundin’s season. (Minnesota Star-Tribune)

Business experts say that Toronto Maple Leafs’ GM Brian Burke’s “head would roll” in their world. Because sports totally follow the normal rules of business, of course. (The Toronto  Star)

San Jose Sharks fans probably wanted their team to go through a grueling bag skate after two listless back-to-back losses in regulation, but head coach Tod McLellan is opting to rest them instead. Probably a good move. (The Mercury News)

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

3 Comments

Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

8 Comments

The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

24 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

13 Comments

With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.