Backstrom

Capitals disagree with, don’t understand Backstrom suspension

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The Washington Capitals have issued the following statement on their team website:

We disagree with the NHL’s decision to suspend Nicklas Backstrom.

This has been a competitive and physical series, and we do not understand why a suspension was imposed in this case while other incidents in this series have not been reviewed.

Our singular focus now is on Game 4, and we look forward to the energy that our great fans provide.

As reported earlier, Backstrom was suspended one game for cross-checking Boston’s Rich Peverley in the face. He’ll sit out Thursday’s contest as a result, something the Capitals are clearly not happy with.

The Caps’ statement comes just three days after the Rangers posted a similar critique on their site regarding the Carl Hagelin suspension, saying they were “perplexed in the ruling’s inconsistency.”

Washington players were also critical of the Backstrom suspension, according to the Washington Times:

“Sometimes you think it’s right decision, sometimes it’s not, sometimes you want to laugh,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “So right now I think it’s kind of bad decision. But there is nothing you can do.”

Defenseman Karl Alzner believed Backstrom cross-checked Boston Bruins forward Rich Peverley to the face by accident but still was not surprised by the suspension.

“Not really. See for yourself, it doesn’t look good,” Alzner said. “I haven’t heard any of the reasoning why it’s a game, why it’s not more games, why it’s [not] no games. I haven’t heard any of the explanation. That’s kind of what we were expecting: match penalty.”

And finally, some feedback from the Twittersphere:

Damien Cox, Toronto Star: “Rangers, Caps both ripping Shahahan decisions in media releases. Never happened with [Colin] Campbell. Sheriff has tiny support base, it seems.”

Joe Haggerty, CSNNE.com: “Words from Caps’ statement would probably have more clout if it actually came out of George McPhee’s mouth rather than in faceless statement.”

Jamie Baker, CSN Bay Area: “So now I’m really confused b/c the Capitals said they are confused but I thought everyone in hockey was already confused. #SoConfusing”

Video: Phil Kessel displays incredible hand-eye coordination on goal

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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.

Judge for yourself: Was Drouin’s would-be 1-0 goal offside?

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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.)

Lightning coach believes Drouin ‘is going to be dominant in this league’

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 30:  Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders  during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 30, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images)
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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.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning – Game 6

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 22:  Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning collides with Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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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