Saturday proved to be an ugly night for the NHL playoffs. Game 2 between Ottawa and New York saw a pair of ugly incidents, one involving Matt Carkner another with Carl Hagelin, while Game 2 between Chicago and Phoenix saw Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw go barreling through Coyotes goalie Mike Smith.
NHL head of player safety Brendan Shanahan will spend today and tomorrow meeting up with all of these parties to see if they’re worthy of being suspended. Shanahan will meet with Carkner and Hagelin this afternoon while he’ll meet with Shaw on Monday.
Carkner was guilty of jumping Rangers forward Brian Boyle in the opening minute of the game trying to hand out some frontier justice for Boyle’s treatment of Erik Karlsson in Game 1. Hagelin delivered a dirty elbow to the head of Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, one that knocked Alfredsson out of the game with an apparent head injury.
Shaw’s hit on Smith, meanwhile, looked terrifying at the time as Smith was laid out on the ice with an apparent head injury. Smith wound up staying in the game and finishing it out while Shaw was given a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct. The debate whether it was gamesmanship by Smith or poor injury handling by the Coyotes staff will rage on from here.
Shanahan’s had his hands full already in the postseason giving a two-game suspension to Canucks forward Byron Bitz for a hit from behind on Kyle Clifford while letting Predators defenseman Shea Weber slide with a fine for delivering a wrestling-like head shot of his own to Henrik Zetterberg.
Safe to say Shanahan can’t afford to let too many guys off the hook as players appear to be acting out more recklessly and if anyone’s got to worry about serving time, it’s Carkner and Hagelin.
This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.
The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.
(Watch that goal in the video above.)
It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.
Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.
To start the seemingly pivotal stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an outstanding save on Evgeni Malkin on what sure looked like a scary chance.
The play swiftly shifted from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s end to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ side of the ice, and it seemed like Jonathan Drouin scored a big 1-0 goal in Game 6.
As it turns out, the goal was disallowed thanks to an offside goal review.
Here are a few viewpoints on that moment in GIF form … you can get a fuller view via the video above.
The general feeling among those who don’t have a horse in the race is that it was the right call. (Lightning fans were, uh, not happy.)
At some point, it will probably be kind of boring to hear members of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization praise Jonathan Drouin.
At least if Drouin re-signs with the Bolts after quite the affirming postseason and his ascension amid injuries.
These days? It’s still sort of entertaining.
In the latest case, Jon Cooper was asked to compare the development paths for Nikita Kucherov vs. Drouin. After empathizing with the pressure Drouin carries as a high-end pick (vs. Kucherov’s ability to come in under the radar), Cooper had some very positive things to say about No. 27.
” … So many people think, well, you’re just going to step in the league at 18 and be dominant,” Cooper said. “I truly believe Jonathan is going to be dominant in this league, but it’s hard to do at 18. He had to work through it, and that’s it.”
Drouin, now at 21, has 12 points in 15 playoff games.
In other Lightning news, it sounds like the team will roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, an alignment that has been working well lately and also came through at times during the 2015 postseason.
The Penguins, meanwhile, replace Beau Bennett with Conor Sheary.
Tonight could be the final game of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. You can catch Game 6 via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (8:00 p.m. ET)
The television broadcast of Game 6 is on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Bolts lead the series 3-2.
Here’s some relevant reading material to get you ready for tonight’s game:
—Malkin guaranteed a Penguins win in Game 6
—Lightning coach doesn’t seem flustered by Malkin’s guarantee
—Kucherov continues to be clutch for the Bolts this postseason
—Marc-Andre Fleury: ‘I should have been better’ in Game 5