Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo

Luongo: ‘I was emotional and I said what I said’

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If there was a most memorable sound bite from the 2013 NHL trade deadline, there’s no question it was “My contract sucks,” by Roberto Luongo.

Luongo delivered the remark, only half-jokingly, after the Canucks failed in their efforts to trade the veteran goalie. The 34-year-old even said he would “scrap” his 12-year, $64 million deal if he could.

Shortly after, Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis suggested Luongo may not have meant what he said.

“I think that he was very emotional and I think these days are emotional for everybody,” said Gillis.

“So, when you have a day like this where your whole life could be turned upside down, then you speak to you guys (media) right after, I think there’s an opportunity for things to be said that in the clear light of day might not be reflective of how he really feels.”

Today, Luongo addressed his remarks.

“I was emotional and I said what I said,” he said, per the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap.

Luongo will be on the bench again Saturday night versus Calgary as Cory Schneider, fresh off a shutout of the Oilers, gets another start.

Meanwhile, Vancouver hockey fans are still talking about what happened — or rather, what didn’t happen — Wednesday. The big question: Did the Toronto Maple Leafs actually have any intention of taking Luongo, or were the Canucks just strung along as a way for Leafs general manager Dave Nonis to get back at Vancouver GM Mike Gillis?

From The Province:

The tension between Nonis and Gillis, which threatened to blow a couple of times during this process, reached a tipping point on Wednesday in the final hour before the deadline. To that point, the Leafs had been preoccupied with Kiprusoff, the veteran Calgary ‘keeper, who they felt best served their need for an established goalie.

Kiprusoff, however, told the Leafs he wasn’t interested in relocating to Toronto, which threw Nonis and Gillis back together. Actually, it threw together Nonis and Lorne Henning, the Canucks’ assistant general manager, and Henning suggested the Leafs offer young goalie Ben Scrivens and a pair of second-round draft picks as compensation for Luongo.

Nonis, who’s petrified of Luongo’s contract, thought about this, then countered with his own offer: Eat part of Luongo’s contract and we might have something. That proposal was rejected, which you’d think would have ended this chapter of the saga.

You have to know it couldn’t possibly be that easy.

The Canucks are incensed that Nonis introduced this new wrinkle in the 11th hour of the negotiations. They believe this was his payback to Gillis, who succeeded him as the Canucks’ GM in 2008, and owner Francesco Aquilini, who abruptly dismissed Nonis days before hiring Gillis.

It’s not clear when Luongo will be back in goal for the Canucks, who find themselves jockeying with the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Northwest Division. Vancouver hosts Phoenix Monday, but doesn’t have back-to-back games until April 15 and 16 in Nashville and St. Louis, respectively.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) deflects a puck over the net during the first period of Game 3 against the Washington Capitals in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals in Pittsburgh, Monday, May 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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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.

Fleury suits up (but won’t start) and other Caps – Pens Game 3 notes

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been out of action with concussion symptoms, participates in a practice session for the NHL hockey playoffs against the New York Rangers, Monday, April 11, 2016, at their practice facility in Cranberry, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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The Brooks Orpik hit on Olli Maatta isn’t the only factor in lineup changes for Game 3 between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Maybe the most interesting change starts on the Penguins’ bench … where they likely hope that tweak will stay for at least one night.

Marc-Andre Fleury is apparently healthy enough to suit up for the Penguins, although it appears as though Matt Murray will start:

That’s a clear sign that “The Flower” is healthy enough to play, as Murray would be an injury or a coach’s pull away from giving up the net to Fleury. (One would assume.)

Murray has been fantastic for the most part since taking over for Jeff Zatkoff during this postseason, yet you know how the playoffs can be; people may clamor for Fleury after a loss even if it’s not really Murray’s fault.

Circling back to that Orpik hit, the dominoes seem to fall this way:

Penguins: Derrick Pouliot replaces injured Maatta.

Capitals: Dmitry Orlov in for suspended Orpik.

PHT will make note if there are any swerves.