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Sedins approach career crossroads

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Despite all the drama elsewhere, the Vancouver Canucks’ success still depends greatly on the Sedin twins’ ability to create offense.

At least, that’s the way it’s been for several years. The question is: how much longer will the facsimile forwards be the identical faces of the Canucks franchise? The 2013-14 season should have an enormous impact on that question, whether it’s Henrik and Daniel Sedin making the decision or the Canucks making that call for them.

The decline?

Both players’ $6.1 million cap hits are set to expire next summer. They’ll turn 33 in September, so it’s crucial for the Canucks to reach a consensus on their long-term value.

There has been plenty of debate during the last few years regarding whether the Sedins remain elite players or not.

Their increasing age implies that a decline is probable, but there’s a compelling counterargument that the Sedins’ cerebral cycling style could help them retain value more successfully than players who rely on sheer athletic ability.

Whether it’s their fault or not, the bottom line is that the duplicate duo’s point totals have stagnated, so the pair likely hopes for a high-scoring 2013-14 campaign.

The Torts effect

The Vancouver Sun’s Daniel Wagner surmises that the Canucks employed an overly complicated powerplay system that didn’t really build the Sedins’ strengths. Tortorella has had his own troubles getting seemingly talented players to score on the man advantage, but perhaps a new voice could revitalize that special teams unit.

Tortorella stated that the Sedins will block shots and kill penalties, but that might be a rarity in the grand scheme of things.

So, all things considered, the pairing’s roles should stay largely the same. The bigger factor might instead be how Tortorella communicates with them, then, as some might wonder how the Sedins will respond to his “demanding” nature. Their relationship with Tortorella is important when you consider the fact that two superstar contracts hang in the balance.

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There are a number of variables that can make or break this scenario, but it all likely boils down to how the 2013-14 season plays out.

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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NBCSN screen
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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.