Brendan Shanahan

Shanahan: Weber ruling didn’t open door to playoff violence

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“[Brendan] Shanahan’s playoffs have been a bust since he turtled in making a decision on Shea Weber’s flight of UFC fancy in Game 1 of the Nashville-Detroit series. Since then it’s been a traveling freak show of late hits, scrums and head shots targeting both elite players and the odd mediocrity, too.” – Jeff Blair, Globe and Mail

“The NHL wonk in charge of making miscreants stay after school did nothing more than fine Weber a mere $2,500, and only that because that was maximum allowed by the collective bargaining agreement. No suspension. No missed games. No real punishment. Just a silly fine for a serious act. Shanahan got pantsed. He clowned his own league. He turned the best time of the year into a joke.” — Steve Rosenbloom, Chicago Tribune

“I think the league had a pretty good opportunity to set the bar, and I guess they did.” – Zetterberg

To all of the above, Shanahan respectfully disagrees. The decision to let Weber off with a fine had nothing to do with the on-ice violence that followed.

Shanahan told USA TODAY Sports that he asked his hockey operations colleagues (who total almost 100 years of NHL playing experience) this question: “Did you ever sit in a dressing room in the playoffs, and say, ‘I was going to play this one straight tonight, but Shea Weber didn’t get suspended so I’m going to go to a completely different planet and go off the rails?’”

Shanahan added: “I don’t think Andrew Shaw decided to run a goalie because of Shea Weber. I don’t think he woke up that day and said, ‘I think that decision means I can run goalies.’”

At least one NHL coach would agree.

“Players don’t sit at home and say, ‘well if he didn’t get suspended I can do it,’” Bruce Boudreau told CBC.ca. “In hockey, things happen in an instant. It’s not a premeditated type thing, where you go and see if I can get away with hitting his head into the glass. To me it happened in an instant. I don’t think given that situation again, Shea Weber would do that but I mean it was there and he did it.”

He added: “It’s only the people that want to make a mountain out of a molehill and have nothing better to do that are trying to make this more than it is.”

For what’s it worth, I’m with Shanahan and Boudreau. If there was any connection to the Weber ruling and the subsequent offenses, it was miniscule relative to the attention it’s received.

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.