Barry Trotz

Trotz laments Preds’ elimination: “This was a team that had all the depth”

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To hear Barry Trotz tell it, the story of Nashville’s season went bad, good…then disappointing.

“The first 20 games, we were not a good hockey team,” Trotz told The Tennessean. “We were real young in some areas. We weren’t very detailed; we didn’t know how to win.

“And then we became a real good hockey team. And then, at the appropriate time, the ownership stepped up and added some pieces that we thought would be necessary to go deep into the playoffs.”

And then? For the second straight year, the team was bounced in the second round — this time by an upstart Phoenix club that seemed to out-Predator the Predators.

“We couldn’t solve the riddle of Mike Smith and the Coyotes’ defense,” Trotz explained. “In the first couple of games, it was our defense, or lack of, that prevented us from winning. Stealing Game 1 [4-3 in overtime] the way they did really gave them a lot of confidence.”

Trotz didn’t put much credence in the idea that suspensions to Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn derailed his club, though numbers suggest they played a part. The Preds only managed to score three goals over the final three games of the series (after scoring six in the first two) — a stretch that coincided with Radulov and Kostitsyn being banished for Games 3 and 4.

By the time Game 5 rolled around, the two were out of synch, combining for just three shots on goal in the elimination contest.

That said, Trotz believed his team had enough depth not just to overcome the Radulov/Kostitsyn fiasco, but also to beat the Coyotes and make a deep playoff run.

“This was a team that had all the depth,” Trotz said. “Whereas in the past we had some talented teams, but we didn’t quite have the depth at certain areas or enough experience in certain areas.

“This team had pretty good balance all the way through.”

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.