Ryane Clowe

Clowe on controversial interference: “I have no idea what you guys are talking about”

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Ryane Clowe has picked a defense for his outrageous interference play during Thursday’s 6-5 shootout win over Los Angeles.

He’s pleading ignorance.

“I have no idea what you guys are talking about,” Clowe told reporters when asked to explain his motives for reaching over the bench to break up a Kings rush. “I’ll have to see the video or something. Someone show me the video.”

Ask and ye shall receive…

The question now, according to the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek: What should the NHL do about this?

The NHL assesses supplementary discipline for all manner of untoward conduct. Players get fined and suspended for cheap shots, for hits high (to the head) and low (to the knee). Players get suspended for racial slurs and other improper language. Coaches get fined for complaining about referees. The NHL disciplinary process seems like a 24/7 event, with the new discipline czar, Brendan Shanahan, constantly under siege.

But what happens when a player sitting on the bench – say Ryan Clowe of the San Jose Sharks – reaches his stick onto the ice and incredibly plays a puck from there, interfering with Jarrett Stoll of the Los Angeles Kings as Stoll was carrying the puck up the ice? And what if Clowe’s actions happened in a tie game, late in regulation, with the Kings on a power play and maybe in a position to win in regulation? And what if, in actual fact, San Jose goes on to win in the shootout, further muddling playoff positioning in the Western Conference?

The answer, of course, is that nobody knows. This is a fairly unprecedented situation that everybody’s still trying to digest.

Ray Ratto of CSN Bay Area wrote that Clowe “cheated big time Thursday night, and having gotten away with it, denied he did it — which is proof he absolutely did it and knew it.”

Dan Arritt of ESPN LA said based on the reaction of postgame interviews “it’s clear no one had ever witnessed such a play in their careers.”

It will be interesting to see how Shanahan and the league handle this one. Between Clowe, the Nate Prosser headbutt on Jamal Mayers and the Brooks Orpik hit on Derek Stepan (plus Tortorella’s inflammatory comments), it promises to be a busy Good Friday for the NHL’s discipline czar.

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.